Let’s get rid of school boards: CAQ candidate
Published Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:52PM EDT
MONTREAL -- After 13 years of attending school board meetings, Mario Bentrovato now wants to get rid of them.
The English Montreal School Board's Volunteer of the Year is making a surprising move into politics, by running for the Coalition Avenir Quebec in the Bourget riding in Montreal’s east end.
Bentravato slammed the EMSB Tuesday, saying the endless bickering at meetings is futile.
“The EMSB is like a circus that comes to town once a month,” he said. “It's just charades, antics, and discussions and arguments. At the end, we talk five minutes about the kids, five minutes about the programs. It doesn't make sense; it's got to stop.”
Bentravato is campaigning for change, protesting that it's time to trim the school board's fat.
“All that money being spent, we can take it and put it in the schools,” he said.
That’s exactly what the CAQ has proposed.
If elected, CAQ leader Francois Legault promises to merge Quebec's 69 school boards into half as many 'regional centres,’ saying that would amount to a savings of $300 million.
Part of that windfall would be returned directly to the schools, where volunteer parent committees would decide on spending. Legault would abolish all positions for elected school commissioners.
Premier Jean Charest said Anglophones should beware the CAQ’s proposal, which could risk the future of English education in the province.
“If there's an institution that's important to the community and where they get to have their say, it's school boards, and what he wants to do is abolish them,” said Charest.
Legault insists he would not merge any of the nine English boards, however.
“The English community will not lose any power; they will just be transferred from school boards to schools,” he explained.
A nice idea, said EMSB chairperson Angela Mancini, but said she feels parent committees can't speak for an entire community.
“I represent the community of my own right, and I can argue with the government and I can make views known. If I'm an administrator under the views of other guys, that representation becomes less possible,” said Mancini.
For Mario Bentrovato, however, it's time to change a broken system at the school boards.
“If it's so important why is there such a low per cent of voter turnout? If it's so important, why is there so little interest? If it's so important why are there so few volunteers?” he said.
The English Montreal School Board said it will be requesting meetings with members of the three main political parties in the province to find out what they’re planning for Quebec’s English school boards, and when the community can expect if they vote for them.