As reported by an official provincial investigation, the current trustees of the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) have had a disastrous record when it comes to the board’s finances.
Trustees have, in the past, made inquiries of the board’s bureaucracy as to the state of the organization’s finances, and were met by resistance. Incredibly, the trustees essentially shrugged and dropped their inquiries instead of pushing harder to obtain accurate and up-to-date information.
How on earth can trustees do their job if they don’t bother understanding their budgets?
Even worse, our trustees (and unelected staffers) have taken an absurd number of foreign trips to countries all over the world. How much have they spent on these trips? Nobody knows. Some information was obtained through freedom of information requests, but the picture is woefully incomplete. The total amount is certainly in the tens of thousands of dollars, possibly in the range of hundreds of thousands. This is only guesswork, of course, since they refuse to release details.
Being a parent nowadays is very hard. Of course it has never been easy, but life in York Region involves unique pressures for parents. Housing is incredibly expensive, along with accompanying factors such as utilities, transportation and food. The vast majority of families have both parents working full-time, and census data suggests that, for the most part, they are living paycheque to paycheque, while carrying a heavy burden of consumer debt (not to mention mortgages).
This can be said to be the price of living in somewhere as wonderful as York Region, and that is fine. However elected officials, including trustees, must absolutely respect the stresses and burdens facing the parents of our school board. As if the day-to-day financial stresses weren’t enough, public schools, dealing with their own budgetary pressures, frequently solicit additional funds from parents.
This is the reality of our school board. Given that reality, it is absolutely outrageous for trustees to fritter away board funds on unnecessary foreign adventures. What’s more, being indifferent to the real financial picture of the school board is totally unacceptable — if parents can’t afford to neglect their finances, why should trustees think it’s okay?
If elected trustee, I will push hard to initiate a thorough accounting of the board’s finances, with the results posted online for everyone to see. Indeed, all the board’s spending, including by individual trustees, should be made public on a regular basis. There should be no more secrecy.
It truly is time for a fresh start!