Many of you may be coming to our website expecting a commentary on the new transportation or noon hour supervision fees. We have been out there, at the fee meetings, gathering facts (or lack thereof), and helping parents find a way to express themselves to the trustees. Questions have been brought up at the public trustee meetings and in the media and many citizens have contacted their trustee and administration with their thoughts about the new fee structure.
Administration is wrapping up another round of public engagements and that is a good thing too. We will see if the resulting decission reflects the wishes of the parents who have expressed concerns. We certainly hope and expect so.
But how did we get here? Why did the administration make this controversial decision? Why did they rush what many have deemed a complex decision, frought with complexities and many what if scenarios? Simply put, because CBE trustees let them.
You’ll recall the new board proceedures put forth by the trustees at the March 6th board meeting, which gave administration full authority to decide on bussing fees. There lies the problem. No forethought was given to a controversial decision and what that might mean to the citizens or good governance. Many of the trustees who voted for this new policy, spoke about trusting administration to make these decisions.Unfortunately, the trustees never consulted with the public as to whether the public wanted them to delegate the setting of fees to the administration.
If transportation fees had been the trustees’ decision, would administration have presented the fees as they have, or knowing that they had to convince trustees first, would it have been different? Would trustees have heard from parents and come up with a better plan, a better decision? Would trustees have recommended that they take more time and stay with the status quo? What we do know is proper governance is set up so large organizations can make decisions that are in the best interest of those they serve or represent. That is what ARTICS stands for: Good governance.
Might it be a good idea for alternative programs to pay more for busing? Is it a good idea to raise someone’s fees over 70% after raising them last year and getting rid of the family maximum? These are examples of the types of questions that trustees should have debated publicly if they still had the decision making power.
Today, we are faced with an administration who have painted themselves in a corner. After hearing from many parents, they have decided to review the fees framework. But what can they change? I asked Deputy Chief Steveneson if they can go back to the status quo (last years fee formula) and take more time with the fee consultation. The answer was yes, but later on he expressed his concerns with that scenario saying it is difficult to go back, when they have already promised many parents lower fees.
So while administration decides how to rework the fees framework, I am left to wonder what might have been if trustees had never delegated the final decision to the administration in the first place.