‘It is good that you are finally concerned.’: UCDSB chairman pens biting letter to MPP

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

BROCKVILLE – The chairman of the Upper Canada District School Board has responded to Eastern Ontario MPP Steve Clark with a somewhat acrid four page letter, calling for a “more productive dialogue.”

John McAllister responded today (Aug. 12) with an open letter to the Leeds-Grenville MPP’s request last week in an open letter that the UCDSB take the province up on an audit of the school board budget because he’s “concerned.”

In June, the board made $11.7 million in cuts to the budget for the 2019-2020 school year, which included eliminating 160 full-time equivalent positions.

“It is good that you are finally concerned,” McAllister wrote. But he calls Clark’s request “an unfortunate approach” for dealing with the board’s financial troubles.

McAllister said it was “essential for us to proceed with reductions in staff in order to align our expenses” given the amount of money coming from the provincial government.

He says the board used the entire $364 million it received from the government “prudently” with the best interest of students and school operations in mind.

McAllister also accuses Clark to not taking him up on an offer to meet about the budget after doing so in a letter on June 28. “Instead, my offer for us to meet was left unanswered and more than a month after my communication to you, have you chosen to advise that you are concerned.”

The board chairman also finds the audit request “strange” since the UCDSB has an annual “extensive audit by external auditors” and has an audit committee. He also calls it an unnecessary duplication of an expensive exercise.

McAllister does credit the government with providing some relief, such as in student transportation for the next budget year. “To be candid, the UCDSB needs more than your concern; rather, we need your support.”

He closes the letter, hoping for a more “productive dialogue” and an open invitation to meet at a “mutually convenient date.”

You can read the entire letter by clicking here. (opens PDF)