A Few Thoughts on Week 56

A supposedly rainy Sunday.

  • Season 2 of Council Conversations announcement coming Thursday at 7pm. Follow along to stay up to date and go back and binge season 1!
  • Begin with a thread why I am not shocked at the low vaccination rates in parts of Windsor. It is interesting that Windsor is still reliant on major centralized sites for vaccination, while other communities are shifting to a more disaggregated model or even setting up broad based mobile units. It likely has to do with vaccine availability and the types but still creates challenges. Oh well, Izzy and I live in a hot zone.
Hot zone? I thought you said treat!
  • I built two new garden beds this weekend, that was fun. Expect more garden/outdoor content in the coming weeks.
  • The Toronto District School Board are suing the Government of Ontario on Education Development Charges. You can find their factum on their website. I wrote about EDCs at the public board previously.
    • I am not a legal expert but the crux of the argument from my understanding is the Educational Development Charges (EDCs) and whether they can be collected is assess based on a board wide metric for students and acreage of land. TDSB doesn’t meet the threshold meaning they can’t collect the full or partial amounts of EDCs.
    • School grants and other funding are assessed at sub-district level (family of schools for example) based on business cases and projections for that cluster of schools.
    • As a result, TSDB, don’t get the full EDC or at all (I’m not clear), meaning as Toronto grows they do not have access to the same funding as other school boards. So if a school goes up (or gets expanded in a high growth area) due to growth, they aren’t collecting EDCs due to the constraints, which in turn it allows developers not pay these charges meaning growth will not pay for growth.
    • It will be interesting case to watch.
  • Continuing the school board theme, for some reason (I was actually mudding drywall and was using it as background noise) I put on the public school board meeting Tuesday night. As I was listening, I could help but think why is this happening? Let explain.
    • Tuesday night’s meeting was actually 3 meetings – Education committee, Finance and Op. committee and the full board meeting. The fact that three meetings all happen in one night is weird to me.
      • It isn’t like City Council does a committee meeting and then immediate reconvene for full council to debate the outcome of that meeting.
      • I assume there is some governance reason for this but I don’t know what it is.
      • A fact that a full board meeting happens after the committee meetings to me, means that all trustees have to sit through and wait for the committees to do their work before they can meet to approve the outcomes that meeting. So why not merge the committees into the full board meeting?
    • Now the committees did receive reports and ask questions to admin and delegates, but the evening (3 meetings) went almost 4 hours on stream. The overall stream and public meetings started late (not the first time) due to I would assume an in camera discussion that ran long. I turned it off at 9:30pm to go read they still had another hour or so after that.
    • If you look at the committee agendas they are pretty sparse so I struggle to understand why these meetings go 3+ hours. To figure out exactly how long, it I went back through 2 years of agendas and minutes.
  • The longest recorded meeting was 6 hours 49 minute marathon. The shortest meeting being 22 minutes which was an in-camera session that a formal meeting had to be started and ended around. The question that I have is this is the quality versus quantity of these meetings.
  • Now I full recognize that good governance requires oversight etc. trustees ask questions and take in information and provide direction. The role and purpose of trustees is a much broader discussion.
    • From my limited observation presentations from admin are often qualitatively substantive but quantitatively lacking in my opinion. Trustees ask questions but I don’t always hear questions that elicited a response that was deeper than a clarification or amendment from administration starting position. Questions that then pop up are not always substantive or probing in a way that drives broader understanding of the systemic challenges facing the board.
      • Data is rarely brought forward in a significant way in my humble opinion nor is it debated in open session.
    • At a committee level there hasn’t been a “New Business Item” recorded in meetings minutes in two years of my review, yet numerous new business items end up at the full board level some of which when read, are more or less items that should go to a committee.
      • If these committees are to bring forward new approaches, ideas, and processes for the Board to explore, shouldn’t the majority of the work be new business coming from Trustees, directing administration to explore X or Y?
    • I also seem to notice that some trustees are often a bit in the weeds about specific programming, issues or specific schools rather than thinking about systemic challenges where in my opinion boards generally should be. What sort of challenges? How about:
      • Starting in 2022, school boards are required to collect data on student population by racialized group? How are they going to direct admin to use this data? Where is it going to live and is it going to be shared?
      • Mitigating impacts of poverty and economic inequality in schools?
      • Lots of time, energy and learnings were put into the Math Taskforce here locally. How does the new math curriculum impact this work? What about testing as this board has struggled for a wide range of reasons.
      • Any thought or debate on what happens after the ban on school closings ends (likely after the next election for provincial political reasons) as according to the last accommodation review there were schools that were at risk.
      • How does the school board leverage municipal strategic visions like Windsor Work to build partnership create community amenities and spaces?
      • Online learning is here to stay, what are you going to do about it? What if your best (or worst) teachers decide they want to permanently teach online?
    • Maybe these questions are being asked but as someone who follows the school board if I don’t know the answers, how does the average parent know? It is true, it is true that COVID has sucked the oxygen out of the room, but the light is getting brighter.
      • I would argue that now is the time to think ahead, a reassess everything. The future of education will look different after COVID-19 is done. If you are going to spend 4 hours debating issues, I would prefer time being spent on being strategic and visionary while making sure that needles are being moved and progress is actually being made.
      • At the same time that our local school board was watching videos on art programs, the TDSB was having a meeting planning to advocate to the province opposing permanent remote learning.
  • The reports on High Speed Rail are a bit of a false-nomer IMO. There are so many barriers that I would argue 2035 is optimistic and if it does happen, I don’t think they stop in Windsor. I kind of agree with this, I don’t get it.
  • My neighbourhood has scene 5 different mature trees taken down this year, so I was glad to see that we are getting 30ish new plantings.
  • This thread by Sarah Mashtaq covers most of the Town of Essex drama…. Hay-County-Politics.
    • As someone who talks to a lot of smaller town politicians, arguably Essex has one of the most decisive councils in Ontario. Mayor has been charged for 2018 election issues, the above issues over the last weekend, the mayor asking councillors to send less emails to him, to all of the last terms drama between the former mayor and councillor.
  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is all you can do while I wait to be vaccine eligible.

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