I was at the Toronto District School Board this week trying to convince some trustees to abandon the experiment of putting police officers in schools and was impressed once again about how dysfunctional the school board is.
The trustees might be good people, but as a group they seem ineffective and out of touch. They are paid so little ($5,000 per year) that if they want to feed and clothe their families they haven’t much time to perform all their TDSB duties.
Yet the problem is deeper than that. The board is like the old Metro Toronto Housing Authority, which ran public housing. The public housing was owned by the province, and the province set all the rules about spending and management. But the province didn’t want to appear responsible since public housing always seemed to be a mess, so it appointed an authority.
The authority had no real powers, no authority to do anything on its own.
The TDSB is in the same position. The province sets spending limits and policy. The trustees don’t have the power or authority to do very much. They can’t run the system, but the public expects them to. It would be better if the province ran the schools directly — which would be such a disaster that we’d see clearly why schools should be under local control.
Back to police in schools. It costs about $100,000 to put a cop in a school for a year, and with 20 schools, that’s $2 million. The data seems to show no difference in criminal activity in schools with cops and those without, so I argued the experiment has not been a success. If we want to give kids better choices, hire social workers, not more police.
I don’t know what the trustees decided. I suspect they decided to drift and not have a firm policy on police in schools.