Gateway Gazette

Calgary Board of Education Ordered to Improve Operations

The province has released the final report of an independent review of the Calgary Board of Education and the board has been issued a ministerial order with 19 recommendations to improve its governance and financial management.

Grant Thornton Canada conducted the independent financial cost management and governance review. The scope of Grant Thornton’s review focused on:

  • Board procedures, related governance practices and decision-making.
  • Effectiveness of financial management and internal control processes.
  • Funding and allocation of resources including program delivery costing.
  • Control of public information.
  • Specific cost centres including head office lease options, staffing levels and related compensation and procurement.

The review did highlight some positives about the CBE’s operations, including having costs related to maintenance and planning that are comparable to other metro school boards. Procurement practices were also generally found to be appropriate to address related risks. However, Grant Thornton found a need for an improvement in governance and planning for financial sustainability.

“Overall, the findings are indicative of an organization that has undergone turmoil at the governance level with a focus on process over function and a short-term view of financial sustainability.”Grant Thornton Financial Cost Management and Governance Review of the Calgary Board of Education

Some of Grant Thornton’s findings include:

  • The board places more of a focus on protecting themselves rather than focusing on the CBE’s broader mission.
  • Increased class sizes due to centralizing some teaching staff at the board office.
  • A failure to consider multiple options to reduce the financial risk of the Education Centre building.

To ensure the CBE works to address the concerns highlighted in the review, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange issued a ministerial order directing the CBE to improve its governance and financial management practices.

“The Calgary Board of Education must act now to improve operations in order to direct as many dollars as possible to the classroom. As the independent report shows, the board’s short-term view focused more on protecting individuals on the board rather than its overall duty. This is unacceptable.”Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

The recommendations in the order focus mainly on governance and improving governance over the future operations of the Calgary Board of Education.

The recommendations fall into several themes:

  • governance
  • Calgary Board of Education central office building (Education centre)
  • financial management
  • procurement and expenditures
  • communication
  • staffing levels and compensation

A summary of the recommendations is available online.

The ministerial order takes effect immediately and the board must complete all recommendations by Nov. 30. Failure to do so will result in dissolution of the board of trustees.

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