May 26th, 2020

Calgary school board rife with ‘turmoil,’ short-term thinking: report


By The Canadian Press on May 21, 2020.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education after being is sworn into office, in Edmonton on Tuesday April 30, 2019. An independent review has found the Calgary Board of Education focuses too much on protecting individual members and not enough on its long-term financial sustainability. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY – An independent review has found the Calgary Board of Education focuses too much on protecting individual members and not enough on its long-term financial sustainability.

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange ordered a financial audit and governance review last fall of the province’s biggest public school board.

She said at the time that she was disappointed the board announced it would cut 300 temporary teaching jobs instead of working with her ministry to find other ways to cover a $32-million budget shortfall.

LaGrange has issued a ministerial order based on 19 recommendations made in the report by accounting firm Grant Thornton.

Those include hiring a minister-approved governance instructor and evaluating ways to reduce risks associated with the headquarters building it leases in downtown Calgary.

LaGrange says the board has until Nov. 30 to complete all recommendations, or trustees will be fired.

“Overall, the findings are indicative of an organization that has undergone turmoil at the governance level with a focus on process over function and a short-term view of financial sustainability,” said the report.

LaGrange said in a release that the board must act quickly to direct as many dollars as possible to classrooms.

“As the independent report shows, the board’s short-term view focused more on protecting individuals on the board rather than its overall duty. This is unacceptable.”

The review highlighted some positives, such as having maintenance and planning costs in line with other big city school boards and appropriate procurement practices.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 21, 2020.

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