Big differences in public school trustees' committee work

Community Dec 31, 2010 East York Mirror

For them, it beats sitting on a beach in Florida.

Retirees elected to the Toronto District School Board have stepped up to fill spots on the more than 30 committees, boards and organizations requiring trustee representation.

Some are on so many they can't keep track.

"How many committees did I sign up for?" asked Don Valley West Trustee Gerri Gershon, when notified by a reporter she topped the list of most eager participants along with Howard Goodman (Eglinton-Lawrence).

Both are on 13 committees, not including the board itself.

"Noooo, did I do that really?" laughed Gershon, who has been a trustee for the past 25 years.

Asked if she hadn't bitten off more than she could chew, Gershon responded jokingly: "I hope not. No, as I said, first of all I'm an extremely experienced trustee. I understand the workload and I'm able to handle it. As a matter of fact, I have been attending most of these meetings anyways, so it's not a big stretch for me."

Some of the ad hoc committees, such as those reviewing conduct and ethics or overseeing the board's cache of fine art, only meet on an as-needed basis so the workload isn't onerous, added Gershon.

The long list of committees generally focus on individual, board-wide issues such as special education, student nutrition or negotiations with board staff. They don't include any workgroups that might exist at the ward level, such as those examining program placement within a family of schools for instance.

"I'm on a lot of committees," acknowledged Goodman.

However, the trustee since 2003 has stated he spends more than 50 hours a week doing school board work and therefore eschews the description "retired".

It's not an uncommon refrain among some members of the school board who consider the job of trustee full time though they perhaps haven't been paid that way since the early 1990s. TDSB trustees receive an annual honorarium of $25,000, about a thousand less than last year but much higher than the $5,000 they received when Mike Harris was premier of Ontario.

For that money, they're only required to sit on the board (also known as the committee of the whole) and one of its four standing committees. It's up to the 22 members to decide amongst themselves who will fill positions on the board's various statutory, community advisory, and ad hoc committees or with external organizations seeking trustees on their boards.

Who volunteers often depends on whether they have another job beyond being a trustee.

On the list of who sits on the most committees (see sidebar), the also retired Sheila Cary-Meagher (Beaches-East York) and Jerry Chadwick (Scarborough East), John Hastings (Etobicoke North) and Chris Bolton (Trinity Spadina) are not far behind Goodman and Gershon.

On the other end of the scale are Stephnie Payne (York West), Shaun Chen (Scarborough-Rouge River) and Chris Tonks (York South-Weston).

The latter two are young and just entering their second term as trustees. Tonks is a full-time lawyer while Chen is a PhD candidate in Sociology in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Chen is only on one extra committee beyond what is required but said he wanted to sit on more. However, he said he withdrew his name from consideration for the audit committee because there were more volunteers than spaces and he lost an election to be one of the TDSB representatives on the Ontario Public School Boards Association.

Like last year, Payne did not put her name forward for any committees.

A former nurse, Payne now works as the executive director of the San Romanoway Revitalization Association in the Jane/Finch area. She said her regular work as a trustee will leave her too busy for board-wide committees this upcoming year.

Payne said she's asked up to three times a month to be one of the required three trustees participating in quasi-judicial expulsion hearings. "Which is very, very time consuming," she said. "One can go up to four hours on any given day."

Like trustees in four other wards, Payne will also take part in a public process to review accommodation and programming at a family of schools in her area. An elementary school in her ward, Chalkfarm, is also one of the 10 TDSB schools that will be getting full-day kindergarten next September, she added.

"I'm also involved with the new pilot project for a nursing program in our area," she said.

"I know that will take up quite a bit of my time because it's of interest to me. So actually, I don't need to sit on all those various ad hoc committees, I've been there, done that, you know," said Payne, who has been a trustee since 1991.

Big differences in public school trustees' committee work

Employment often determines time availability

Community Dec 31, 2010 East York Mirror

For them, it beats sitting on a beach in Florida.

Retirees elected to the Toronto District School Board have stepped up to fill spots on the more than 30 committees, boards and organizations requiring trustee representation.

Some are on so many they can't keep track.

"How many committees did I sign up for?" asked Don Valley West Trustee Gerri Gershon, when notified by a reporter she topped the list of most eager participants along with Howard Goodman (Eglinton-Lawrence).

Both are on 13 committees, not including the board itself.

"Noooo, did I do that really?" laughed Gershon, who has been a trustee for the past 25 years.

Asked if she hadn't bitten off more than she could chew, Gershon responded jokingly: "I hope not. No, as I said, first of all I'm an extremely experienced trustee. I understand the workload and I'm able to handle it. As a matter of fact, I have been attending most of these meetings anyways, so it's not a big stretch for me."

Some of the ad hoc committees, such as those reviewing conduct and ethics or overseeing the board's cache of fine art, only meet on an as-needed basis so the workload isn't onerous, added Gershon.

The long list of committees generally focus on individual, board-wide issues such as special education, student nutrition or negotiations with board staff. They don't include any workgroups that might exist at the ward level, such as those examining program placement within a family of schools for instance.

"I'm on a lot of committees," acknowledged Goodman.

However, the trustee since 2003 has stated he spends more than 50 hours a week doing school board work and therefore eschews the description "retired".

It's not an uncommon refrain among some members of the school board who consider the job of trustee full time though they perhaps haven't been paid that way since the early 1990s. TDSB trustees receive an annual honorarium of $25,000, about a thousand less than last year but much higher than the $5,000 they received when Mike Harris was premier of Ontario.

For that money, they're only required to sit on the board (also known as the committee of the whole) and one of its four standing committees. It's up to the 22 members to decide amongst themselves who will fill positions on the board's various statutory, community advisory, and ad hoc committees or with external organizations seeking trustees on their boards.

Who volunteers often depends on whether they have another job beyond being a trustee.

On the list of who sits on the most committees (see sidebar), the also retired Sheila Cary-Meagher (Beaches-East York) and Jerry Chadwick (Scarborough East), John Hastings (Etobicoke North) and Chris Bolton (Trinity Spadina) are not far behind Goodman and Gershon.

On the other end of the scale are Stephnie Payne (York West), Shaun Chen (Scarborough-Rouge River) and Chris Tonks (York South-Weston).

The latter two are young and just entering their second term as trustees. Tonks is a full-time lawyer while Chen is a PhD candidate in Sociology in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Chen is only on one extra committee beyond what is required but said he wanted to sit on more. However, he said he withdrew his name from consideration for the audit committee because there were more volunteers than spaces and he lost an election to be one of the TDSB representatives on the Ontario Public School Boards Association.

Like last year, Payne did not put her name forward for any committees.

A former nurse, Payne now works as the executive director of the San Romanoway Revitalization Association in the Jane/Finch area. She said her regular work as a trustee will leave her too busy for board-wide committees this upcoming year.

Payne said she's asked up to three times a month to be one of the required three trustees participating in quasi-judicial expulsion hearings. "Which is very, very time consuming," she said. "One can go up to four hours on any given day."

Like trustees in four other wards, Payne will also take part in a public process to review accommodation and programming at a family of schools in her area. An elementary school in her ward, Chalkfarm, is also one of the 10 TDSB schools that will be getting full-day kindergarten next September, she added.

"I'm also involved with the new pilot project for a nursing program in our area," she said.

"I know that will take up quite a bit of my time because it's of interest to me. So actually, I don't need to sit on all those various ad hoc committees, I've been there, done that, you know," said Payne, who has been a trustee since 1991.

Big differences in public school trustees' committee work

Employment often determines time availability

Community Dec 31, 2010 East York Mirror

For them, it beats sitting on a beach in Florida.

Retirees elected to the Toronto District School Board have stepped up to fill spots on the more than 30 committees, boards and organizations requiring trustee representation.

Some are on so many they can't keep track.

"How many committees did I sign up for?" asked Don Valley West Trustee Gerri Gershon, when notified by a reporter she topped the list of most eager participants along with Howard Goodman (Eglinton-Lawrence).

Both are on 13 committees, not including the board itself.

"Noooo, did I do that really?" laughed Gershon, who has been a trustee for the past 25 years.

Asked if she hadn't bitten off more than she could chew, Gershon responded jokingly: "I hope not. No, as I said, first of all I'm an extremely experienced trustee. I understand the workload and I'm able to handle it. As a matter of fact, I have been attending most of these meetings anyways, so it's not a big stretch for me."

Some of the ad hoc committees, such as those reviewing conduct and ethics or overseeing the board's cache of fine art, only meet on an as-needed basis so the workload isn't onerous, added Gershon.

The long list of committees generally focus on individual, board-wide issues such as special education, student nutrition or negotiations with board staff. They don't include any workgroups that might exist at the ward level, such as those examining program placement within a family of schools for instance.

"I'm on a lot of committees," acknowledged Goodman.

However, the trustee since 2003 has stated he spends more than 50 hours a week doing school board work and therefore eschews the description "retired".

It's not an uncommon refrain among some members of the school board who consider the job of trustee full time though they perhaps haven't been paid that way since the early 1990s. TDSB trustees receive an annual honorarium of $25,000, about a thousand less than last year but much higher than the $5,000 they received when Mike Harris was premier of Ontario.

For that money, they're only required to sit on the board (also known as the committee of the whole) and one of its four standing committees. It's up to the 22 members to decide amongst themselves who will fill positions on the board's various statutory, community advisory, and ad hoc committees or with external organizations seeking trustees on their boards.

Who volunteers often depends on whether they have another job beyond being a trustee.

On the list of who sits on the most committees (see sidebar), the also retired Sheila Cary-Meagher (Beaches-East York) and Jerry Chadwick (Scarborough East), John Hastings (Etobicoke North) and Chris Bolton (Trinity Spadina) are not far behind Goodman and Gershon.

On the other end of the scale are Stephnie Payne (York West), Shaun Chen (Scarborough-Rouge River) and Chris Tonks (York South-Weston).

The latter two are young and just entering their second term as trustees. Tonks is a full-time lawyer while Chen is a PhD candidate in Sociology in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Chen is only on one extra committee beyond what is required but said he wanted to sit on more. However, he said he withdrew his name from consideration for the audit committee because there were more volunteers than spaces and he lost an election to be one of the TDSB representatives on the Ontario Public School Boards Association.

Like last year, Payne did not put her name forward for any committees.

A former nurse, Payne now works as the executive director of the San Romanoway Revitalization Association in the Jane/Finch area. She said her regular work as a trustee will leave her too busy for board-wide committees this upcoming year.

Payne said she's asked up to three times a month to be one of the required three trustees participating in quasi-judicial expulsion hearings. "Which is very, very time consuming," she said. "One can go up to four hours on any given day."

Like trustees in four other wards, Payne will also take part in a public process to review accommodation and programming at a family of schools in her area. An elementary school in her ward, Chalkfarm, is also one of the 10 TDSB schools that will be getting full-day kindergarten next September, she added.

"I'm also involved with the new pilot project for a nursing program in our area," she said.

"I know that will take up quite a bit of my time because it's of interest to me. So actually, I don't need to sit on all those various ad hoc committees, I've been there, done that, you know," said Payne, who has been a trustee since 1991.