Letter


Hon. Laurel Broten Letter to Parents

August 28, 2012

Dear parents and guardians,

Today, the Ontario government has appointed a supervisor to oversee the financial management and administration of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

I want to assure the Windsor-Essex Catholic students, parents and staff that the welfare of your school system is my top priority. The board needs stability and solid financial controls in place so that it can focus on its main job of putting students first.

One of the responsibilities of the supervisor will be to keep students, parents and staff informed. I want you to be assured that all schools will be open and your children should report to class as scheduled on Sept. 4.

We’ll work to ensure that parents continue to have input and a meaningful role in decision-making at this board. Parents will also be able to continue to work with local trustees who will be free to carry out individual responsibilities in local communities and at school events.

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board was the only board with an accumulated deficit in 2010-11, and the board was projecting the deficit would increase by Aug. 31, 2012.

The appointment of the supervisor follows the recommendations of an investigation team that noted the school board’s inability to meet its financial obligations was the result of several factors, including:

  • A budget that is significantly reliant on a labour strategy that has financial and non-financial risks, including potential for disruption of school for students and staff.
  • The financial impact of previous decisions, such as relatively generous collective agreement terms and unfunded capital construction.
  • An inability to develop accurate budgets as well as an inability to develop timely and accurate reports throughout the year.
  • Inadequate financial management practices within the organization and insufficient management capacity.
  • The lack of ownership and accountability of department heads for implementing budget initiatives and managing within their allocations.
  • The absence of budget controls to facilitate departments spending within their budget allocations.
  • The lack of communication and cooperation of key departments on important items such as staffing numbers and budget targets.

Supervision will help put the board back on track to make responsible decisions that are in the best interests of students. 

The supervisor will develop and responsibly implement a balanced budget plan to return the board to a balanced financial position while respecting the board’s denominational rights, collective agreements and other financial contracts and obligations.

The board’s actions have called into question their ability to manage their financial affairs. I want this board to have stability and solid financial controls in place so that it can focus on its main job of improving student achievement.

Therefore, Norbert Hartmann has been appointed under the Education Act, effective Sept. 4 to:

  • Address the issues raised in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Investigation Report with a priority placed on reviewing the labour strategy, which includes the willingness of the board to endure strikes in order to meet budget obligations.
  • Develop and implement a balanced budget plan to return the board to a balanced financial position while protecting the best interest of students.
  • Implement the recommendations in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Operational Capacity Report 2011.
  • Respect the board’s denominational rights, collective agreements and other financial contracts and obligations

Effective immediately, Jim Grieve, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Early Learning Division in the Ministry of Education, will serve as an interim supervisor.

My actions today will ensure that this board is put back on track, so that it can make responsible decisions that are in the best interests of students, and so that public confidence in the board can be restored.

Yours truly,

Laurel Broten