Monday, September 28, 2009

Bluewater update No. 11

The more aggressive part of myself as a journalist has been extremely envious of my counterparts in Owen Sound / Bruce and Grey counties over the shenanigans that have taken place at the Bluewater District School Board this past year. Kudos to the Sun Times, particularly Maria Canton, for its ongoing coverage of the issues happening in that district.
Two updates posted last week, which as usual the folks over at MendEd had up far earlier than I. Both come out of the board's first trustee meeting of the new school year held last week. My fav of the two is Maria's on the exchange between the chamber of commerce member who called out the two superintendents on plagiarizing and the board chair.
(Peter) Ferguson, the Kimberley architect who pursued plagiarism allegations against two superintendents all the way to the Ontario College of Teachers, was only a minute into his public presentation when Yenssen, chair of the board of trustees for the Bluewater District School Board, ruled he was out of order and demanded he cease speaking.
The two then exchanged heated words back and forth about who was out of order before Yenssen abruptly called an emergency 20-minute recess.
"The board has to govern under the Education Act and our own bylaws. In the past we've accepted delegations that dealt with personnel matters, but after seeking legal advice we will not allow any delegation to speak about personnel matters again," said Yenssen afterwards.
"In the board's view the plagiarism issue is over and we've dealt with it and we'd like to move forward with developing a policy on plagiarism."
But Ferguson maintains his presentation at the BWDSB's first meeting of the new school year was one based on collaborating with the trustees and that he doesn't want "heads to roll"
That article was published alongside another outlining the presentation from Geoff Williams, one of the ministry appointed "Mr. Fix-its" that have been in the board since their appointment by Kathleen Wynne earlier this year.
"The most important thing to realize is that there are ways out of the situation in which they (the BWDSB) find themselves in now, they need to be responsible for the actions that will move them forward and that's clearly the most important thing," said Williams, who was dispatched to Chesley last spring to help the BWDSB work through its then self-described crisis.
"It is possible for them to move forward and build better relations and if they start acting on some of these recommendations, as well as recommendations that they get from other sources, they can position themselves well, but it will take some time."
Immediate changes the board can take, according to Williams, are ones that are already underway or have been fulfilled, such as the Monday launch of the online satisfaction surveys and the hiring of a communications officer.
The changes that will produce long-term improvements in the system, however, will likely only be put in place in time for the next election in November 2010.
I haven't read Williams' report to trustees, but from the commentary at MendEd and elsewhere they appear to be a set of common-sense recommendations many feel the board should have adopted a long time ago. 


Anonymous said...

Curious as to whether the Fix-it Report was presented before or after the dust-up?

Not that it matters I suppose but you'd think that if it was presented before someone there would clue-in?

One also wonders that if the report was so basic in common sense what the hell's been going on up there in the meantime?

Actually, we may already be able to answer that not-so-rhetorical a question:-?