Letter: School Board Needs to Balance Needs and Wants

By Letter to the Editor
Published April 15, 2013

I read with disappointment an article in last week's Hamilton Mountain News, detailing how the Mohawk Trail School will not be moved to the new Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) headquarters because of budgetary restrictions.

My disappointment quickly turned to anger as I read another article detailing how Education Director John Malloy and the School Board hopes to start equipping elementary students with personal tablet computers.

I find the HWDSB's priorities appalling in today's economy where, by the Board's own admission, existing schools are crumbling and schools have to fundraise for gym equipment, musical instruments and batteries; where teachers cannot provide students with their own spelling or math workbooks but can only select photocopied pages from a limited photocopying budget; and where teachers have to ask students to provide their own Kleenex.

To reward themselves with an already over-budget $32 million headquarters while schools deteriorate in front of them and students do without amazes me. To dream of giving students personal tablets when they can't afford to give them pencils and paper is dumbfounding.

As a parent and homeowner, I balance my "needs" and "wants" every day. I can't have the new car that I want because I need to pay my mortgage. Our School Board seems unable or unwilling to balance their wants and their needs.

And then to insult the taxpayer's intelligence by saying that these tablets will require minimal new spending because we will simply "reallocate funds"? As far as I know, you can only spend the same dollar once. Spending it on unnecessary "wants" only means that a "need" won't be met somewhere else.

We see the School Board do it all the time. The HWDSB needs to get their heads out of the clouds!

Sandi Horton

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By J (registered) | Posted April 15, 2013 at 16:03:23

they absolutely must close all old city schools because none of them are equipped to handle the infrastructure requirements to support these new tablets. Also, routers cost $5000 when the school board buys them, plus $10000 in installation.

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By Highviewmom (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2013 at 16:16:17

Where is the money coming from????

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By cynic (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2013 at 16:46:26

You write this article from the point of view of the tax paying public. Your perspetive is correct, but you need to look at the situation of a school board bureaucrat and/or trustee.

•better parking
•better shopping close to office
•better office.
•better view from office.

•Less students
•Bigger budget
•Less Schools
•nice stone elements from the old sanford St school (they where all saved)

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By JM (registered) | Posted April 16, 2013 at 13:43:08

do you think anyone will pay more attention to the school board trustees during the next municipal election? I know we're complaining about them, but they are often "forgotten" or not even heard of when you fill out your ballot....

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 18, 2013 at 14:42:46 in reply to Comment 87876

I think they've done enough damage that there will be plenty of engagement this time around, especially in places where schools were lost.

Fundamentally though, I tend to agree that piddling elections like this are fruitless. An election where voters have zero information about their electoral choices is a sham. We only learn about our candidates after they're already in office and doing damage. I don't know what the correct model is here, but as far as I'm concerned the trustee election system has failed.

The media did not equip the public to make any kind of a decision - even otherwise civically-engaged people and municipal activists had no idea about their board trustees until they started talking about wrecking-balls.

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By J (registered) | Posted April 17, 2013 at 02:03:05

the answer is to remove all trustee authority over capital infrastructure. They are in over their heads. Let them develop education programs, hire teachers, develop curriculum. Let someone else with a planning background build and maintain the schools. Also JM is perfectly correct. All electing trustees at a paltry salary does is give a bunch of mediocrities far too much power than they deserve. Let paid employees do paid employee work and ditch this token participation.

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