At the most recent CBE board meeting on October 2, 2012, Trustee Taylor asked to add an item to the agenda. In keeping with CBE policy, she wanted to make a motion to ask the Board to approve a request for information that she had made to the Chief Superintendent. A constituent had asked her if there was a policy or CBE practice regarding recess for Grades 5 and 6 students who are in a middle school (Gr. 5-9) rather than in an elementary school (K-6). She had asked the question of the administration and they had directed her to the following CBE policy about asking questions:
So, Trustee Taylor followed due process. She informed the Board prior to the meeting of her request to add an item to the agenda along with the question she wanted answered. She then received an e-mail in return saying that her request was “inappropriate.” As decisions of the Board have to made at a Board meeting in keeping with the School Act, she continued on with her request to add it to the agenda at the beginning of the Board meeting. Her motion to amend the agenda failed 5-2, with only Trustee Bazinet supporting the idea of actually following CBE policy. (You can watch the video of the start of the meeting on the CBE website as soon as it is posted).
Now, to be clear, it would have been perfectly acceptable for the Board to have added the item to the agenda and then to have voted against having the question answered when the agenda item came up. No policy would have been breached. However, by not even allowing Trustee Taylor the opportunity to bring the question before the Board, the CBE trustees willfully breached their own policy (which was read aloud to them by Trustee Taylor).
But hey, who needs policy anyway? Wouldn’t it be so much faster to work without formal policies and procedures? Well, that doesn’t always turn out so well…
You may recall at the September 4, 2012 board meeting, Trustee Taylor brought up the subject of trustee and senior administration expense disclosure and was shot down. The next day, the provincial government announced their new expense disclosure policy and stated that they expected school boards to follow suit. The day after that, the CBE put out a statement from Chair Cochrane that they would meet or exceed the expectations in the provincial policy and that the trustees would be “formalizing our commitment at a public meeting in October.” One would expect that a Board motion and some sort of policy would need to be developed first before releasing expenses.
Then suddenly, without any Board discussion or motion being made, and without any policy or process being developed, Chair Cochrane publicly announced on October 1 that the trustee expenses for the past year would be online the next day. This promise has since been taken down, but can still be viewed here. The evening of October 2, Trustee Bowen-Eyre posted the following on Twitter:
The following morning, I could no longer find the expense disclosure on the CBE website, but then found that the link provided by Trustee Bowen-Eyre still worked. Later during the day, they were again linked on the CBE website. Then in the afternoon they were taken down altogether. This confusing turn of events was explained in an article in the Calgary Herald which detailed the serious violations of privacy that were the direct result of not having a policy or even a process in place for disclosing expenses.
But hey, who needs policy when you’re free to disregard it anyways?