The Government of Ontario has announced that it is appointing a supervisor to oversee the financial management and administration of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, with the goal to return the board to fiscal sustainability, ensure there are no labour disruptions in the coming year and to put the best interests of students first.
The Province says that the appointment of the supervisor “follows a practice in the board of running deficits and a determination by the ministry that the board is financially high risk. In each of the last two years, the board has posted operating deficits and is projecting another this fiscal year, despite support from the province. Funding has increased by over 30 per cent since 2003, with per pupil funding up 62 per cent.”
As a result of these persistent financial challenges on July 26th, the Ministry of Education asked Deloitte to conduct an investigation into the board’s finances, who has recommended the appointment of a supervisor based on the board’s inability to meet its financial obligations as a result of several factors including:
- Inadequate financial management practices within the organization and insufficient management capacity.
- The lack of ownership and accountability of department heads for implementing budget initiatives and managing within their allocations.
- The absence of budget controls to facilitate departments spending within their budget allocations.
- A budget that is significantly reliant on a labour strategy that has financial and non-financial risks, including potential for disruption of school for students and staff.
- The financial impact of previous decisions, including unfunded capital construction.
- An inability to develop accurate budgets as well as an inability to develop timely and accurate reports throughout the year.
- The lack of communication and co-operation of key departments on important items such as staffing numbers and budget targets.
Effective immediately, Jim Grieve, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Early Learning Division in the Ministry of Education, will serve as an interim supervisor and on the first day of school, Tuesday September 4th, Norbert Hartmann will take over as supervisor. Mr Hartmann has 35 years of experience in the education sector, Norbert Hartmann has held senior management positions in public and Catholic school boards and most recently served as chair of the Co-Management Team at Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board and supervisor for Toronto Catholic District School Board.
He will be tasked with developing and implementing a balanced budget plan to return the board to a balanced financial position while protecting the best interest of students. He will address the issues raised in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Investigation Report with a priority placed on reviewing the labour strategy, which includes the willingness of the board to endure strikes in order to meet budget obligations, as well as implement the recommendations in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Operational Capacity Report 2011.
The meeting of the Separate School Board that was scheduled for this evening was cancelled.
You can read the full Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board Investigation Report here.
You can read the Hon. Laurel Broten Letter to Parents here.