In the end, it was too little too late to save Toronto Catholic trustees from a provincial takeover.
They said they balanced the budget at midnight Monday, but an investigator found they fell $5 to $12 million short of the mark.
They voted to “end” spending abuses, such as illegal health benefits and a car allowance, then decided to keep them for one more month.
And when the investigator blasted trustees for their “toxic” relationship with staff and their refusal to meet budget targets three years running and their “very casual approach to compliance with the Education Act,” it all failed to restore the government’s faith in Ontario’s largest Catholic school board.
In one swift move yesterday morning, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne stripped Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees of their power.
“I didn’t think there was any point in dragging this out, because the investigator’s report confirmed my concerns, so I acted,” she said after receiving Pierre Filiatrault’s report Tuesday night, which recommended the province take over the board’s financial reins.
Supervisor Norbert Hartmann will begin his $190,000-a-year job “immediately,” Wynne said yesterday.
Board Chair Catherine LeBlanc-Miller said she was not surprised by the takeover, but disagrees with the investigator’s charge trustees scrambled to balance the books without understanding what they were doing.
“Yes we were voting on cuts until 12:10 in the morning, but many of those items had been discussed over recent weeks and months and we had received staff input on them, so they were not out of thin air,” she said.