Quebec chops $10.9 million from LBPSB budget

Ethics ruling expected by Friday

By Robert Frank

Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) has an interesting year ahead of it, chair Suanne Stein told commissioners during its first full council meeting since they were elected, Nov. 2.

Assistant director-general Carol Heffernan told them that the government was supposed to provide $280 million for the current school year, “but they said they don’t have it, so $10.9 million was cut from that figure and told us ‘Figure out how you’re going to run the school board without it.’”

The newly elected commissioners appointed newly elected commissioner Noel Burke to serve as the board’s new vice-chair and appointed him to represent LBPSB on the board of directors of the Quebec English School Boards Association.

Commissioner Marty Sherman will return to chair LBPSB’s executive committee, which will be vice-chaired by Craig Berger and includes Stein Day as well as Mary Ann Davis, Frank di Bello, Eric Bender as members.

Davis was also appointed to represent LBPSB on the Verdun municipal social development committee.

Stein Day regretted an Education Ministry decision “to cut commissioners’ stipends by 30 per cent.”

Heffernan said that the amount of money that will be divided among 17 commissioners has fallen to $138,337, “about $100,000 less than last year.” Sherman will also take over from Stein Day as chair of LBPSB’s ethics committee.

Conflict case reopened

The Suburban has learned that LBPSB ethics commissioner Bernard Grenier has quietly reopened his investigation of conflict of interest allegations against Stein Day.

The accusations stem from her term on the board of the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA). They are connected to the subsequent disbandment of the Sherwood Forest school governing board, after parents questioned the legality of home and school association activities there.

“I signed five declarations of interest, including one for QFHSA,” said Stein Day, who declined a request that she recuse herself from discussing the issue before council. “I do not need to recuse myself unless there is an actual conflict.”

Former governing board member Cindy Mac Donald complained that the school board has provided misleading information about the case.

“Ethics commissioner Grenier reopened the case during the school board election,” she told The Suburban, following reports that she and two other complainants, Luc Horne and Michèle Poupore, were dissatisfied with how LBPSB handled the case.

“He approached us directly,” Mac Donald said in an interview. “He asked us to provide more information. We submitted some material that had not been forwarded to him. The school board has known about this for awhile, but doesn’t want to talk about it.”

“We expect to hear something at the end of this week,” she concluded.

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