There are a couple of important meetings coming up next week involving public confidence in the Near North District School Board.
One is in North Bay Wednesday and another in Parry Sound Thursday.
Earlier this year, the Board requested special support from the Minister of Education which assigned two Special Advisors to work with the Near North District School Board.
Their mandate is to provide the Minister of Education with advice and recommendations about how the Near North District School Board can improve its governance, human resources practices and financial accountability role to support and improve public confidence in the board and in Ontario's publicly funded education system, according to the Board's website.
The survey was completed mid-October and the results have been collated for the meetings this week to be presented on school property.
Education activist and parent Karen Matthews, banned from school board property because of an earlier dispute, believes the trustees should not be at the meeting..
"If the Ministry Advisors want candid and honest feedback about the Board’s transparency, governance, human resources practices and financial accountability role, they would more readily achieve it by having the meeting in a public meeting hall without Board members or senior staff in attendance," she told BayToday.
"Asking the Near North Board to be part of this process is like asking a fox to guard the henhouse.”
But Board Chair Jay Aspin disagrees.
"Our board took office last December and inherited significant challenges from the previous board which are much too numerous to elaborate, but the public is well aware of them.
"During our first year, our new board has been extremely busy and worked tirelessly to get our system back on track. We have had a number of successes but full recovery won’t happen in just one year. In late summer our board requested assistance with this from the Minister to both help and expedite this process."
Education Minister Steve Lecce assigned two ministry officials.
"One of the tools they are employing is a survey to give them a full 360-degree view of the board which includes a public input piece," explained Aspin. " We expect their report to be completed at the end of the year and are looking forward to their recommendations. They have arranged to present the results of their survey and seek public input from two sessions in North Bay and Parry Sound on the dates, times and locations identified."
The public meetings are as follows:
Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
Location: Board Room, 963 Airport Road, North Bay
Date: Thursday, Nov 28
Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
Location: Board Room at Parry Sound High School, 111 Isabella Street, Parry Sound
Aspin concluded, "In addition with regard to public input, this month our Board has commenced our Multi-Year Plan to be developed during the first quarter of 2020 wherein the board will seek input from its employees, students, and stakeholders over the first quarter of 2020. This strategic plan will be deployed over the balance of our board’s term."