Tag Archives: school-board-elections

School boards: What will we do with them now?

Now that school board elections are over, with absolutely atrocious voter turnout, the inevitable we-have-to-do-something leadership-by-hindsight begins.

Some of the options being considered:

Abolish school boards entirely: This is the ADQ’s solution to the problem, and the excuse for reason why they want to force a real election. Administration of schools would fall to municipalities, the provincial government, and the schools themselves, removing a layer of bureaucracy. Unfortunately, as municipal mergers should have shown us, it’s not that easy. The bureaucracy created by the change might be as large or even larger than the bureaucracy it’s replacing.

Give school boards more power: For those (like me) who complain there aren’t any issues to be decided here (things like school taxes and curricula are set by the Quebec government), this might make elections more interesting. But it would also make the boards inconsistent, and that could lead to problems down the road.

Tie school board elections to municipal elections: I can’t see how this isn’t a good idea. Let’s reduce the amount of times we need to go out, update a voters’ list and wait in line to cast our ballots.

Here’s one I’d like to suggest adding to the list: Have school board commissioners appointed by municipalities instead of elected by the populace directly. This may sound anti-democratic at first, but the system it’s replacing isn’t perfect either. This solution would keep the bureaucracy as is, but the decisions about how local schools would be run would be left in part to the municipal governments they’re in. (Municipal politics aren’t high on voter turnout either, but it’s better than school board elections — and most people can name their mayor at least.)

Just a thought.

School board election results

I don’t blame you if you slept through it, but yesterday was school board election day across the province. Turnout in English boards (which have a much smaller electorate because you have to specifically request to be added to it) was low, about 10-30%. Turnout for the French boards was comically bad, in the low single digits.

That probably had something to do with the fact that there were no issues in this election, nobody knew anything about the candidates, and school boards are powerless to make any meaningful changes about how our kids are educated anyway.

Still, for those who care (the immediate families of the candidates come to mind), here’s a quick breakdown of what happened.

English Montreal School Board

EMSB results (PDF)

  • Spiridigliozzi: Wards 8, 11, 15, 21, 22, 23 (plus 16, 17, 18 and 20 by acclamation)
  • Barbieri: Wards 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14
  • Mancini: Wards 1, 4, 7, 10, 19
  • Independents: None

The EMSB election, as Henry Aubin explained it, was a battle between chairman Dominic Spiridigliozzi (whose team had a slim majority on the board) and Rocco Barbieri and Angela Mancini, who work together and whose candidates did not compete against each other for seats. Despite having four candidates elected through acclamation (including Spiridigliozzi himself), the team managed to win only 10 of the 23 board seats, with the rest going to Barbieri and Mancini’s teams. This will represent a major shift in the way this board is governed.

Spiridigliozzi lost 3 incumbents: vice-chair Elizabeth Fokoefs (NDG Ward 3), Daniel Andrelli (St. Henri/Point St. Charles/Westmount Ward 6) and George Vogas (Plateau/Park Ex Ward 13)

Two of the races were extremely close (close enough that judicial recounts have been ordered): Rocco Barbieri won by a margin of only seven votes: 319-312. Julien Feldman (also on Barbieri’s team) defeated incumbent George Vogas in Ward 13 by only six votes: 319-313, with 52 votes going to independent Adam Beach. (A second independent, Ilias Hondronicolas, dropped out.)

As for Bryce Durafourt, who I had high hopes for, he received only 49 votes against Barbieri’s Liz Leaman (454) and Spiridigliozzi’s Mario Pasteris (200).

Lester B. Pearson School Board

Official results

Not as fun to analyze as the other board because there weren’t any declared teams and there were only seven races. Two incumbents, Howard Solomon (who’s been there 14 years) and Don Rae (a one-time incumbent whose website is filled with stock photos of smiling kids), lost their seats.

Commission scolaire de Montréal

List of winners (PDF)

Wow. You can’t go wrong with a 100% victory, but that’s exactly what the MEMO group did here, picking up 13 acclamations and winning all eight contested elections against independents. Even Dominique Cousineau, whose campaign apparently consisted of pointing out that her opponent was named Mostafa, won her board seat. I can’t find a list of the vote totals (though with a turnout of less than 4%, maybe they’re embarrassed to show them).

Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys

List of winners (PDF, apparently scanned from an old fax machine)

With 20 of 21 seats contested, this board’s election was the most active. Diane Lamarche-Venne was the big winner, picking up 14 seats of the 19 her candidates ran in (including herself and one candidate who was elected through acclamation). Jocelyne Bénard-Rochon, who ran 17 candidates, only saw three victories, and lost her own seat to a Lamarche-Venne candidate.

Surprisingly, four independent candidates, three of whom ran against at least one of the parties, also picked up seats: Guylain Desnoyers, Jean-Guy D’Amour, Sonia Gagné-Lalonde and Sarita Benchimol (the latter ran in Cote-St.-Hamp-West, which didn’t see any party candidates).

The turnout was also abysmal here, at just over 3%.

TWIM: Kids, money

Bryce Durafourt

This week, I talked with Bryce Durafourt (above), who’s running in the school board elections for the English Montreal School Board in TMR/Saint-Laurent. He’s 20, a McGill microbiology student, curler, and ran for city councillor the 2005 municipal election in Saint-Laurent, only to come dead-last as the only independent candidate.

So I asked him: What’s up with that?

Also this week (though not online) is an explainer about the status of the Canadian dollar, which is constantly hitting new highs compared to the U.S. dollar. It also mentions the situation in Zimbabwe, home of the least-valued currency in the world and one of the worst examples of hyperinflation since the 1940s.

OMG they’ll outsource our students too!

Apparently realizing that there are no real issues in this school board election, Commission scolaire de Montréal candidate Michel Bédard has decided to invent a scandal. Bédard is running as an independent against incumbent Paul Trottier of the establishment party MEMO in Division 15, which is the area around the Gay Village in southeast downtown.

Bédard is complaining that the school board had Canada Post print some of its election material, and they did so in Toronto. Apparently this blatant outsourcing is taking jobs away from Montrealers willing to print flyers.



Everything you couldn’t care less about school board elections

If you’ve been wondering what those election-style signs are doing up around town, you’ve missed the fact that there’s a school board election going on. Four boards on the Island of Montreal (two English, two French) are electing 54 of 86 commissioners on Nov. 4 to vote on important school board matters, not that I have any idea what important school board matters are.

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