Hartmann at helm

Supervisor to oversee Catholic school board

JAMES RUSK Thursday's Globe and Mail   June 5, 2008 at 5:19 AM EDT

Saying that the province "cannot tolerate" the lavish spending habits of trustees at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, nor their failure to balance their budget, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne took control of the board yesterday.

She appointed veteran education administrator Norbert Hartmann, the author of a scathing report on trustee expenses, as financial supervisor. It is a move that takes all budgetary authority away from the trustees.

In announcing the takeover, Ms. Wynne said that the trustees' actions call their credibility into account and "as a result, I have no confidence in their ability to continue to manage the board's affairs."

The appointment of Mr. Hartmann as supervisor marks the fifth time in the past decade that the province has taken over a board's operations.
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The Globe and Mail

And according to according to Paul Christie, who was appointed by the Mike Harris government as provincial supervisor over Toronto's public school board from 2002 to 2003, it may happen more frequently.

"This isn't the last board that is going to find itself in this circumstance," Mr. Christie said yesterday, pointing to the possibility that the province may eventually do away with local school boards altogether.

"There's no way, in the longer term, school trustees are going to be able to sustain the kind of the role that they have cut out for themselves," the former Toronto councillor said.

"In the absence of their ability to tax or to return to a situation where they can tax, this is going to be perpetual."

Mr. Hartmann's appointment is not an attack on the principle of local governance of schools, Ms. Wynne said in an interview.

"I believe in school boards. They are very good institutions. They provide for good local decision-making. They are the oldest form of local democracy we have in this country. This is not about local school boards," Ms. Wynne said.

Rather, it is about a local school board that is in a state of financial confusion and "the use of public money for private advantage. And that we cannot tolerate," she said.

TCDSB chair Catherine LeBlanc-Miller said that she was not surprised by the appointment of a supervisor, as it appeared to her from a May meeting with the minister that the province was intent on a takeover, largely because of the spending by trustees.

With a report from Karen Howlett
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