As a teacher with the Rainy River District School Board, I became used to hearing a certain refrain: “There's no money.”
As jobs were cut, as programs were cut back or eliminated, as the resources available were diminished and eroded, we heard the same song, “There's no money.”
When we protested or argued against the cutbacks, we were always told, “You must understand. We are in a time of declining enrolment. We can't afford it. We have to cut more.”
Some would say, somewhat cynically, that the jobs and programs cut were those which interacted with children on a daily basis. They would point out that while jobs were cut in the schools, they mushroomed at the board office.
Administrative jobs at the board office seemed to grow without restraint.
Therefore, it is with no little astonishment that one learns that a process has been put in place to raise the salaries of senior administrators in the Rainy River District School Board to dizzying heights.
A glance at the “Sunshine List” will show that these administrators already are generously rewarded. To attempt to jam more money into the already full pockets of administrators while, at the same time, slashing funds available for educating children seems incomprehensible. It also seems immoral.
The process by which the board administration attempted to hide their machinations also leaves a sour taste. They had a supposed “public consultation,” which was a complete sham. The public only became aware of this plot from an anonymous tip to a newspaper.
The proposal was difficult to find on the board's website. The “consultation period” deliberately was chosen at the busiest time of year for parents. It began less than a month before Christmas and ended shortly after the New Year.
If it was funny, we could call this a farce. But diverting funds that should be used for children's education to one's own pocket isn't funny.
There is hope, however, that this diversion of school funds may be prevented. In our system of school governance, there is a group of elected representatives of the people in whom parents and taxpayers have placed their trust.
These are the trustees of the school board. It is their responsibility to ensure that funds meant to educate children are used for that purpose. They hold the public's “trust.”
No school board trustee can possibly allow such a nefarious plot to succeed. It is each trustee's obligation to fight against this on behalf of the students, parents, and taxpayers of this district.
No trustee with a shred of decency could countenance such a proposal. An administrator's monthly pay cheque should not be synonymous with a lottery win, especially if it comes at the expense of their students.
Tell your trustees to stand firm against this travesty. Go to www.rrdsb.com, click on “About Us," then click "Trustees” to get the contact information for RRDSB trustees. Then tell them this is unacceptable.
Do it for the children. Do it so your tax dollars aren't wasted.
Rudolf K. F. Zeitlhofer
Fort Frances, Ont.