By Robert Frank
School board perks are under the microscope, after Quebec Treasury Board Chair Martin Coiteux lashed out against what he considers profligate spending.
The Bank of Canada economist, whom Nelligan voters recently elected to represent them in Quebec City, challenged a school board decision to send officials to posh conventions.
“Some of those expenses are clearly exaggerated,” Coiteux told the Canadian Press news agency.
Last week, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) officials attended a two-day confab in Quebec City.
“The conference at the Château Frontenac was the annual Quebec Association of English School Boards and Association of Administrators of English Schools of Quebec conference of administrators and commissioners,” explained LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day.
“The gathering concerns the entire province of Quebec,” LBPSB vice-chair Angela Nolet, who is running against Stein Day in the upcoming election, told The Suburban. “It was held in Quebec City to be equitable to make it possible for officials from the furthest regions of the province, such as Gaspé, to attend.”
“The professional development is important,” she observed. “It is the only occasion during the year when the commissioners and administration of the nine [English] school boards in the province get together.”
“It’s ultimately less expensive to bring speakers to a single location rather than having them travel to each school board,” Nolet continued. “Some 15-20 workshops are on offer there. We take every opportunity to learn and are always looking for new things to bring back to the classroom.”
For Chris Eustace, another candidate for LBPSB chair, Coiteux’ remarks validated the past 15 years he has spent calling into question such expenses.
“LBPSB has completely abandoned any sense of frugality,” he told The Suburban. “They spent at least $15,000 on last week’s conference: The registration fee for the day conference was $450 per person, and accommodation at the regular room rate was $415 each night. That’s not counting travel expenses.”
“In contrast, each teacher is allocated just $270 a year for professional development,” Eustace noted. “The school that I used to teach at was good enough for Céline Dion. It was good enough for Robert Bourassa and the nearby golf course was good enough for Tiger Woods. I’m so proud of my MNA Martin Coiteux for saying what he did. He’s right on the mark. The spending is outrageous.”
“LBPSB sent nine commissioners,” Stein Day noted. “Council had approved up to 15 delegates, as you know. I am not aware of the number of delegates that administration sent. This was a professional development session for both groups.”
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