Faculty board chair rejects Tory MPP’s ‘unusual’ request for audit


The chair of the Higher Canada District Faculty Board has declined what he calls the “unusual” request by native Tory MPP Steve Clark to have an outdoor auditor comb via the board’s books to search out methods to economize.

Officers on the sprawling rural board already know what precipitated the unprecedented monetary crunch that pressured them to get rid of 160 jobs, mentioned chair John McAllister.

A significant motive is cuts to provincially funded packages, together with declining enrolment and an sudden $18-million transportation invoice awarded by an arbitrator, he mentioned in an interview.

An outdoor audit could be a waste of taxpayer cash, in McAllister’s opinion.

“Our books are open,” he mentioned. An unbiased exterior auditor already opinions the funds yearly, the board has its personal audit committee, and a regional audit crew appears to be like at particular points, mentioned McAllister.

“No, we won’t be benefiting from this supply.”

An open letter from MacAllister was posted Monday on the board’s web site in response to essential feedback made in regards to the board by Clark, who’s the Progressive Conservative MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and likewise the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Clark’s suggestion of an outdoor audit “does little to help us at a time of unprecedented monetary issue,” McAllister mentioned within the open letter.

In an interview, McAllister mentioned his purpose is “to not create a ruckus” with politicians from the province, which supplies many of the cash for varsity boards. “We’re searching for a productive dialogue.”

However It’s “odd” that neither Clark nor Training Minister Stephen Lecce, who additionally made essential feedback in regards to the board, selected to talk to trustees about their considerations earlier than going public, mentioned McAllister.

The board had little alternative however to get rid of almost 4 per cent of its workers with the intention to steadiness the funds as required by regulation, mentioned McAllister.

The funds handed in June eliminates 42 academics, 30 early childhood educators and training assistants, 22 library technicians, 24 workplace help employees, 11 speech-language assistants, 5 principals, a superintendent, a psychological affiliate and all 24 help employees who assist college students with behavioural and psychological well being issues.

McAllister mentioned he saved Clark knowledgeable throughout the “prolonged and clear” funds course of, final writing to him in June with a suggestion to satisfy.

Clark didn’t reply, mentioned McAllister.

The board chair mentioned he discovered it “a bit wealthy” that Clark despatched him a letter on Aug. 7, weeks later, expressing concern “in regards to the impression your lately authorised funds can have on college students within the classroom.

” … I count on the wants of scholars in our native colleges and the entrance line employees who’re so devoted to supporting them to be the precedence of your board in terms of setting a funds,” mentioned Clark’s letter, which was offered to the Citizen the identical day.

The Higher Canada board ought to instantly reap the benefits of the province’s supply to pay for a third-party, line-by-line assessment of faculty board budgets “to search out administrative financial savings and establish operation efficiencies,” mentioned Clark’s letter.

Clark’s employees say he’s not obtainable for an interview. “I imagine the Higher Canada District Faculty Board ought to be capable to work inside its funds of over $342 million to proceed to supply the packages college students want and retain as many employees as attainable,” Clark mentioned in a press release to the Citizen.

Lecce, the training minister, delivered an identical message in regards to the Higher Canada board in a letter to the editor of the Brockville Recorder & Occasions.

“College students mustn’t should undergo due to poor administrative selections by faculty boards,” mentioned Lecce’s letter. “Whereas faculty boards make their very own selections on staffing, class choices and useful resource allocation, we do count on them to place the pressing wants of scholars first. That features psychological well being helps within the classroom.”

McAllister mentioned a serious motive for the board’s monetary woes is an sudden $18-million arbitration award for varsity bus operators. Paying that invoice depleted the board’s reserves and left it with little room to manoeuvre, he mentioned.

The board has been requesting monetary assist for the arbitration invoice since November 2018 — from former Training Minister Lisa Thompson and present minister Lecce — however has obtained no response, mentioned McAllister.

The arbitration award was the results of coverage modifications by the earlier Liberal provincial authorities, he mentioned. “So this isn’t a query of blame right here in any way. It’s only a reality, and a scenario we’re confronted with.”

Nevertheless, McAllister mentioned he was grateful the province did improve transportation grants to high school boards in 2019-20, which implies an additional $three million for Higher Canada that can assist pay for the rising value of gas and different bills.

jmiller@postmedia.com

Twitter: @JacquieAMiller

 


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