Friday, December 13, 2013

The Toronto School Board ~ a financial disaster.

$200,000 to Chris Spence for serial plagerism

The Toronto District School Board pays $56,531 to change light bulbs (see here).  

The Board has 1,545 people on staff making more than $100,000 a year (here).

The Board gave Chris Spence a $200,000 golden parachute when he resigned in disgrace after being exposed as a serial plagiariser (here).

Construction and trades union workers employed by this Board have gotten showered with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free TigerDirect gift cards (here).

The Board regularly pays absurd sums of money for simple jobs: $143 to install a pencil sharpener; $857 to hang three pictures, $3,000 to install one electrical outlet (see here and here).

The Board went $10 million dollars over budget on renovations to Nelson Mandela Park Public School. The Board’s spending on major projects was so out of control that the province froze its capital budget (here).

And perhaps worst of all, because of declining numbers of kids, the Board has 140 schools out of a total of 601 that are less than 60% full (here). The Board needs to close many of those 140 nearly empty schools, but doesn’t have the political will. And in the meantime simply continues to hemorage money.

The Trustees who run this Board need to be tossed out on their ears – and so does the Liberal government that’s overseen this disaster.

"Worse than I expected it to be": Despite wage freeze, the Toronto School Board gave out $1.29M in raises to senior staff, audit says

From the National Post
Contracts signed without competitive bidding, meddlesome trustees pressuring staff not to comply with procurement processes, and $1.29-million in senior staff raises during a government wage freeze were among problems flagged by a damning forensic audit of the Toronto District School Board, released Tuesday.
The 54-page report by auditors Ernst and Young, paid for by Ontario’s education ministry, described a “culture of fear,” where staff felt their jobs were at risk if they did not go along with requests to circumvent established board policies. It made 38 recommendations for improving the board’s processes, including changes to the board’s auditing oversight, new requirements for financial reporting, training in procurement policies for staff, and development of mechanisms to enforce trustee compliance with expense guidelines.
Elizabeth Moyer, the board’s former audit committee chair who first wrote to the ministry last May requesting the audit, said she was satisfied with the report but added the situation it described was “worse than I expected it to be.”
She said she continues to believe a harassment complaint by a TDSB staffer is a result of her blowing the whistle on the board’s financial practices. That complaint alleges Ms. Moyer pressured a board superintendent to hire her two daughters last summer for the board’s Focus On Youth program.
Among the report’s findings:
·         In a sample, 45% of external contracts were found to have been made without a competitive bidding process, contrary to the board’s own rules.
·         Some 79% of expenses for external contractors done through the director’s office did not use a competitive bidding procedure as required. The majority of the period examined covered the tenure of former director Chris Spence, who resigned last January in the midst of a plagiarism scandal.
·         Some key findings from an internal audit by the TDSB in 2012 were withheld from its audit committee, diminishing the committee’s ability to do its job.
·         About 30% of trustee expense claims were deemed ineligible, including a night in a Toronto hotel room for a trustee attending a conference.
·         Some $3.2-million in government funds intended for specific programs such as outdoor education and a summer job and camp program for at-risk youth were used to help balance the board’s budget.
·         Donations and contracts were given to charities or not-for-profit organizations where TDSB trustees, staff, or their family members or close business associates sat as directors or officers.
·         A trustee pressured staff in the board’s purchasing and business services department to go around the TDSB’s procurement process.
·         The TDSB gave raises to senior staff, its deputy directors and director “in excess of the amounts” under Ontario’s public sector wage freeze between March 2010 and last August.

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