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Leadership 1

Understanding the Board Process

1. Number of trustees present for the meeting – 9 + 1 student trustee

Ray E. Mulholland
Judith Bishop Tim Simmons Ronald English Laura Peddle Lillian Orban

Robert Barlow
Wes Hicks Shirley Glauser Jessica Brennan Karen Turkstra

2. Item selected for detailed observation:

I arrived considerably late as I had originally thought the board meeting(s) started at 7,
however, since this was a ‘special’ meeting, it apparently started as early as 6. I missed
the initial presentation of the first action item which was the ARC Policy Implementation.

3. In the space provided below, use your scripted notes to summarize the main points of
debate that occurred regarding the item selected.

The Accommodation Review Committee was the main action item of this meeting. It
was surprisingly a very interesting and eventful meeting to attend. Personalities and
ideologies were clear in the arguments and decisions made. With the change in the board’s
student population, both shifting into different geographical areas and reducing overall, and
with an obviously limited budget, the board is embarking on a plan for school realignment
and closers. The board originally formed on committee for the whole system, but has since
revised the framework to include a subcommittee to overview the review of 3 different
geographical areas: North including: SJA, Delta, SWC, Glendale, Parkview and OP; South
including: SAM, HP, Barton, Mountain and Sherwood; and West including: Ancaster,
Highland, Parkside and Westdale. Saltfleet, Waterdown and Westmount are not included in
the review since they are all over 100% capacity.

The motion that seemed to be of contention was that the issue of secondary
accommodation review be referred back to staff and that a report be brought to the
Committee of the Whole in Feb. 2010. This was passed 5 (+ 2 student trustees) to 4.
Although all seem to agree that the accommodation must go forward, the line seemed to
fall with the urgency versus the time to allow for more review. There were concerns, as
well, about the timing of the main decision which would straddle a municipal election
bringing in new city counsellors and trustees. With this delay, the proposals would be
delayed by 1 year.

As said above, the initiation of the ARC process had already begun. There was
no questioning that schools would be closed, but the urgency with which it would be
done. There seemed to be some unanswered questions, especially as they related to
programs of choice and special programs in certain schools as they may relate to special
funding. Mr Malloy emphasized that this is not a clear and linear process, but that
implicit within the process are many questions that exist and many more that may arise.
In essence, questions would be answered as part of the ARC process, in tandem as the
issues arise and evolve.

4. From your observation and analysis of your scripted notes, what would you say were the
criteria trustees used for making decisions?

Although there was support for the ARC process (this was an ongoing process
from before), the differences in opinion seem to be based on the urgency of the process
versus time to absorb and reflect the process and do it right. The people who voted
against the motion wanted to get on with the process do what needed to be done (let the
ARC committee make its recommendations about closures). The once who voted for the
review and re-establishment of times-lines what a bit more time to consider the process
so that the main decisions would not have to stagger along an election.

5. What appears to be the major difference in the trustees’ role and the role of supervisory

The supervisory officers are experts and guides within the process. Questions are
directed at them; however, it is the trustees who make the decisions. Different trustees
seem to have different opinions, levels of knowledge and expertise related to some or all
of the issues.

6. What were your major learnings as a result of your visit to the Board Meeting?

First, I learned about the issue and more about the ideologies of the trustees as
reflected in the ARC issue. Although there were many matters on the agenda, this
involved the most amount of time. I also learned about the ARC issue itself. Although I
read in the Hamilton Spectator the next couple of days, it certainly had a more in depth
understanding of the issue. As well, it is eye opening to see how influential the trustees
are in comparison to the directors, superintendents and principals.

7. Were there any surprises?

The start time was certainly a surprise. It was anticipated that this would a
contentious issue and the meeting would take extra time. As well, the board was
surprised that there was not more involvement in the way of student and community
voices. For such an important issue, they would expect more representation. I am
surprised they would be disappointed when there has not been great awareness fostered in
the schools and communities. It is not until this week that I had received any hint of it
from my community school.

Another surprise was within the behaviour of the trustees. At some points,
emotions were heightened, and some unprofessional comments were made about
decisions made. Apologies were also issued.

8. Describe how you felt about the Board process you observed.

If this is where the decisions are being made, it is important to understand the
process. I had been to board meetings before, but this did bring more understanding of
the process. One of the concerns I have is the same the board has…how to bring voice
(student and/or parent) to the meetings. I could certainly see the superintendants are
participants and observers as well as principals. I think teachers are, by and larger,
oblivious to the process (myself included) and the student and parent voice (except for
the 2 student trustees) non-existent.

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