Meeting Notes - April 16, 2019

I am very pleased that trustees voted in favour of live-streaming our meetings tonight. Previously, I brought a motion which stated:

That the GECDSB undertake a cost effective strategy to live video-stream public board meetings and standing committee meetings.

Many boards in Ontario are already doing it. I believe this to be a service to the community that will increase engagement and transparency. I think that when those two things happen, it makes our decision-making better. Indeed, when I was canvassing last fall, I heard that increased transparency and engagement are important to people throughout many neighbourhoods in the wards I serve. Many people do not even know what a trustee is. That is concerning because we are responsible for oversight of our children’s education as well as over $500 million in public money, between the operating and capital budgets.

The motion passed with the request that administration bring strategies and costs back to the board for approval. There is a wide range in how this could be done, including simply holding a phone and streaming on Facebook. However, I am hoping that we can do something better than that because I think broadcast quality will be important here and because it will show that this is something we take seriously. I thank the Greater Essex Parent Involvement Committee for speaking tonight in favour of the motion as well as the Home and School Association for sending a letter of support.

Trustees also voted on updating our Education Development Charges by-laws. There is one for the City of Windsor and one for the County of Essex / Township of Pelee.

EDCs fund the purchase of land to build or expand schools. The rates are set by school boards according to guidelines defined by the provincial government and they are collected from developers by municipalities on our behalf. They can be set for a maximum of 5 years. The GECDSB last reviewed our EDC by-laws in 2014 and set them at $305 for both the city and the county for a 5-year period.

The current proposal was for a gradual increase in the county up to $682 and to $1455 in the city. The board has sought public feedback over several meetings and multiple reports and presentations were provided by an external consultant.

Trustees questioned why the recommendation was for different fees in the city and county when they have been equal in the past. The reason is that based on population / development projections, this would maximize the fees we could collect for the next 5 years. It is our responsibility to ensure the board has adequate funds, however, trustees were also concerned about the impacts of the increase on development in some areas in the city and county. We learned that, at this time, the government’s parameters do not allow for differential rates.

Trustees also questioned if it is possible to revisit the by-laws before the time period is up if there was a change in demographic projections within our board or the government’s parameters. The answer was yes.

Trustees voted in favour of the proposed by-laws for a period of five years.

Our next meeting is on May 7. All are welcome! Before then, I am excited to attend Southwood’s presentation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, called Willy Wonka Jr., as well as Westview Freedom Academy’s Multicultural Festival, and the GECDSB Night of Champions Special Olympics Gala.

Jessica

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Jessica Sartori