Category: Provincial affairs and ASBA (Alberta School Boards Association)

All votes for MLA deserve an equal weight

One vote should have the same weight wherever you are in Alberta.

And whether you are 15,000 voters in South Edmonton or Central Alberta, your votes should count towards electing the same amount of MLAs in the legislature. Currently, there is one riding with 15,000 and another with 46,000 voters, both electing one MLA. With modern technology the outdated rationale used to justify such enormous variances is unacceptable.

With all parties holding seats in rural and urban areas, this is not a partisan issue, but an issue of fairness. I have no doubt that fair representation in the legislature will have a profound impact on ensuring that Edmonton receives the investment in Education that corresponds to our unique challenges. With 30% of our students being English Language Learners, higher percentages of Special Needs Students, and 6000+ new students over the last two years, we need to make sure that our educational needs are given the weight they deserve in provincial expenditure.

On Monday January 16th, I had the opportunity to present as Trustee for Ward F to the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The commission is in the process of reviewing the areas, boundaries, and names of ridings across Alberta. As they note, Alberta’s population has grown 20% over the last eight years.

I touched on a few key points that I wanted to share:

  • One vote in Alberta should count the same, wherever it is cast: Many urban Albertans have been denied a fair voice in affairs affecting their lives. I was told in the past by MLAs that despite having thousands of Edmontonians in new neighbourhoods, it was hard to award new schools to the cities because of the disproportionate influence that the rural MLAs held over budgets and capital planning decisions.
  • The Electoral Boundaries commission should use the most accurate data: Statistics Canada is ready to unveil the data from last year’s census on Feb. 8th but we should also take into account other materials such as the demographic study by Edmonton Public Schools that forecasts thousands more new residents moving to Edmonton communities. If there are to be variances, let us carefully consider the rationale and take into account future growth projections.
  • Complexity Matters: while great geographic distances can be a challenge for some rural MLAs to serve vast constituency areas, elected officials in urban areas also have to take into account complexity and diversity such as socioeconomic status or linguistic barriers. Serving as an elected official in an urban setting can be enormously challenging and connecting with thousands and thousands of constituents who bring unique challenges must be taken into account.
  • Technology Matters: As an elected official, 95% of my correspondence is via email, telephone, and on rare occasion, meetings. It is easier than ever to call your MLA, send correspondence, attend telephone town-halls, and engage through other means and channels. I would be fully in favour of adding additional office supports to help MLAs from larger geographic constituencies engage their communities just as I would want to ensure multi-lingual translators were available to help those with other complexities to engage with their constituents as well.

I ultimately come back to the idea of how much is one vote worth? Imagine if Alberta was one riding and both you and I received one ballot. But for some reason because I lived in a lower populated area, I received an additional ballot. Or two. Or three. That would not be fair.

All politics are local, and ultimately MLAs are profoundly invested in demonstrating to their constituents that they have achieved results for their local needs. This advocacy has a tremendous effect on provincial spending and I’ve seen it most apparent in the inequalities around meeting the needs of our growing city.

If you want to learn more about this issue, here are three links:

Alberta Diary:

Guest Post: Five things you need to know about Alberta’s latest Electoral Boundaries Commission

Daveberta.ca:

I actually disagree with Dave Cournoyer on the 10% threshold and think 5 percent would be a much more reasonable threshold:

When the commission does receive the latest data, I would like to see all electoral districts proposed for the 2019 election be within the 10 percent above or below the average population of all the proposed electoral divisions.

I would also like to see the commission keep the number of special districts to a minimum. I would prefer that no district fall below 25 percent of the average, as increased funding should be allocated to MLAs in geographically larger rural ridings for additional offices, staff and travel costs. But political necessity will likely lead to the existence of one or two of these special exceptions.”

I also note that Public Interest Alberta has posted their Electoral Boundary submission online as well.

Dr. Don Carmichael, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Alberta and Democracy Task Force member, stated, “The problem begins with allowing far too much initial variance (25% above and below the average,) which is then made worse over time by subsequent population shifts, often involving increases in rapidly-expanding urban and suburban settings and declines in rural areas.”

Carmichael added that the current unacceptable situation originated with an attempt to address the problems of ensuring effective representation in large rural ridings with sparse populations. “The justifications for these disparities were better suited to earlier times: when there were few telephones, fewer paved roads, no television, and – crucially – no internet.  These limitations no longer apply.  Today, constituents in the furthest reaches of the province have the capacity to communicate with their representatives as quickly and easily as their urban counterparts.”

I would be curious to hear your thoughts and I’m sure so would the EBC:

michael@michaeljanz.ca

 

Teacher Bargaining, ASBA and a proposed 50% cut to ASBA Membership fees

Teacher Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA)

I spent this afternoon with the (TEBA) Teacher Employer Bargaining Association today in Red Deer. Now that bargaining has been centralized/formalized, a new teacher bargaining process has started through TEBA. Due to confidentiality guidelines, matters pertaining to land, labour, and law are to be kept confidential.

Chinooks Edge School Division provided us a letter today that they gave to the Minister urging any matters settled should remain fully-funded by the provincial government in order to ensure current levels of service.

I don’t have much to add at this time, except to update that conversations are underway.

ASBA Spring General Meeting 2016

Tomorrow it is the ASBA Spring General Meeting in Red Deer. This is the annual budget meeting when the 61 members school boards of the ASBA come together to pass a budget. With our advocacy being done via board-to-board collaboration like funding for Syrian Refugees, and TEBA established as the bargaining vehicle, this budget is effectively a subsidy from our classrooms. It will be interesting to see how much has changed, if anything, since I resigned as ASBA Vice-President this time last year over concerns over fiscal accountability.

At Edmonton Public we delegate and share our board, committee, and representative work. While our ASBA concerns are unanimously shared by all 9 EPSB trustees, given my passion for strengthening our provincial advocacy opportunities, I’ve been board chair spokesperson on this file but our concerns are certainly unanimous.

EPSB PROPOSES 50% ASBA MEMBERSHIP FEE REDUCTION:

With the unanimous support of the Edmonton Public School Board, we will be proposing a fifty (50%) membership fee reduction in the annual ASBA membership fee paid by school boards.

Given the significant concerns school boards have had over the last few years, this is an opportunity for the ASBA to demonstrate fiscal accountability, restore more money to school boards, and reduce the feelings of ill-will by some of the members that feel “held captive“.

There are a couple of other proposals we will be bringing forward if time permits which will help enhance accountability of the ASBA such as a new “benefit plan” membership plan category, and providing an audio recording of ASBA board meetings.

FOLLOW ALONG

The ASBA meeting is public and open to the media—Red Deer Sheraton Hotel. Details here: http://www.asba.ab.ca/sgm-2016/.

I’ll be trying to live tweet under #asba or #asbaSGM16 for my board colleagues back in Edmonton.

ASBA Budget 2016 SGM 2 ASBA Budget 2016 SGM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did offer to stay: Letter: 07-october-13-2015-letter-from-epsb-to-asba-re-meeting-followup

Aloha! pt. 2: Is the ASEBP a service of the ASBA? If not, why is ASBA membership required to access health plan services?

Once again questioned about transparency and expenditures, the ASBA tried to distance themselves and deny responsibility for the actions of the ASEBP:

Alberta School Boards Association vice-president Mary Martin said the benefits plan is an independent organization that should make its own decisions about disclosing expenses.

ASEBP Service

From the ASBA Bylaws and Budgets document

This is contradictory, considering the ASBA has made it clear that they consider the ASEBP to be a service of the ASBA and changed the rules after thirty four years of operations to require ASBA membership to participate in this benefit plan.

We understand that they did not sign off on the Hawaii trip, but as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation notes in their blog post:

Considering the ASBA seems to be in charge of holding the ASEBP board accountable, is the fox guarding the hen house?

The ASEBP board is made up of five appointees from the ASBA and five appointees from the Alberta Teachers Association (the teachers union). When an Edmonton Public School Boards trustee asked for more information about ASEBP expenses and travel, the ASBA voted the request down.

According to Janz, ASEBP board members created their own policy that encourages each of them to attend one conference per year through their international umbrella org.

(Note to self: come up with CTF policy encouraging me to go to Hawaii every year. Pitch to boss. Try not to get fired.)

So, will the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan board make their per diems, expenses, travel and compensation public? Will the Alberta School Boards Association make them disclose this information? Will the Alberta government make the benefit plan organization subject to freedom of information requests?

Perhaps there’s a perfectly reasonable justification for sending taxpayer-funded ASEBP board members on trips to Hawaii and “significant out-of-province travel” for “professional development.” But that case must be made to taxpayers. 

ASEBP ServiceAll of this again begs the question: why are school boards required to be members of the ASBA to access the benefits of the ASEBP? Furthermore, Can a School Board Leave the ASBA?

Edmonton Public School Board is not alone in our frustrations. Sturgeon School Division recently wrote in support of repealing rules that require ASBA membership to participate in the ASEBP:

CLEASE_H_ASEBP_May 13_2016

Aloha! Why are ASBA-appointed ASEBP board members going to Hawaii, where else are they traveling and how much are they paying themselves with our public education dollars?

These are simple questions, but thus far have been met with silence— or worse— resistance and hand-washing from the ASBA Board of Directors— the body who appoints these same trustees.

The ASBA leadership has told us that they consider the ASEBP “to be a service of the ASBA” and continue to require school boards like EPSB to be members of the ASBA to be eligible to receive employee benefits through the ASEBP plan. Yet when it comes to holding the ASEBP accountable for international travel, they aren’t interested. The ASBA wants to have it both ways.

At the May 17th, Edmonton Public School Board, I reported the following information:

May 17th Alberta School Boards’ Association Update (ASBA): At ASBA Zone 2/3 (April 22nd/2016) we received a presentation from the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP) and learned that ASBA-appointed trustees to the ASEBP participate in significant out-of-province travel including such locations as Hawaii for professional development. 

It is unclear to us how much they are traveling out of province or country, what per diems the ASEBP has set for themselves, or if they would be willing to disclose their expenses (just as school boards are required to do so). The ASBA has informed us they consider ASEBP a service of the ASBA so we expect the ASBA to assist us in establishing a heightened transparency and assurance. We will send a follow-up letter requesting more information and we will report back to the board when we learn more. 

You can read our letter requesting more information here:ASEBP Zone 23 (April 25 2016) ASEBP Zone 23 (April 25 2016)

EPSB Trustee Nathan Ip put forward a similar version of our request for more information to the ASBA Board of Directors on May 12th. We were frustrated to hear that the ASBA Board of Directors voted down his request for more information especially in light of the significant concerns we have raised about their own transparency and accountability for student dollars.

As half of the ASEBP board is appointed by the elected school trustees of the Alberta School Boards’ Association Board of Directors– both of which are funded by public dollars – we have a fiduciary duty to ensure that as elected officials and as members of the ASBA are confident in the appropriateness and efficacy of all our expenditures. That includes the conduct of those we appoint to represent us on committees, task forces, or external organizations.

We don’t even know what we don’t even know. Maybe there is a very good reason why a conference should be attended in Hawaii. I say: disclose the travel and expenditures and let the public be the judge! All of the Minister of Education’s travel is disclosed. And expenses. School Trustee expenditures are disclosed– yet I can’t find disclosure from the ASEBP.

Background:

The ASBA appoints 5 of the 10 trustees to the ASEBP Board.

Current Alberta School Boards’ Association appointees include: (https://www.asebp.ab.ca/about/governance.html)

  • Karen Holloway, ASEBP Chair (since January 2014)
    • ASEBP Trustee January 2008-present
    • Karen is also an elected School Trustee with Clearview School Division 71
  • Gerry Martins, ASEBP Trustee January 2011-present
    • Gerry is also an elected School Trustee with St. Albert Public School District No. 5565
  • Drew Chipman, ASEBP Trustee January 2009-present
    • Drew is also Assistant Superintendent, Corporate Services Foothills School Division 38
  • Christopher Cook, ASEBP Trustee April 2014-present
    • Christopher is also an elected School Trustee with St. Paul Education Regional Division No. 1
  • Heather Welwood, ASEBP Trustee January 2014-present
    • Heather is also an Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) Consultant
    • Heather is also former ASBA President 2007-2010 and no longer serving as a school trustee.

The ASEBP Board also has five trustees appointed by the Alberta Teachers Association.

I requested information from ASEBP Chair Holloway (April 22nd) and we have not received any response from them or indication they are responding to our request for this information.

  • The ten ASEBP Board members are encouraged through ASEBP policy (which they create themselves) to attend one conference per year through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (https://www.ifebp.org)
  • One ASBA trustee went to Hawaii this year for the American IFEBP conference. They did not indicate how many had gone to the Hawaii conference in previous years.
  • It was unclear from your responses where the other 9 trustees went this year or which conferences ASEBP board members attend. Past conference locations include: 
2015 Hawaii, 2014 Las Vegas, 2014 Florida, 2012 San Francisco, 2010 Hawaii.

The unwillingness to indicate something as obvious as travel and expenses clearly leads to the larger question of compensation in general: what is the total compensation package, including honorarium, expenses, per diem, and any other form of compensation that an appointed trustee receives? And what about senior staff?

Next Steps

We continue to remain vigilant in advocating for appropriate use of student dollars by the Alberta School boards Association. Given the inappropriateness of previous conduct by the ASBA, we continue to remain diligent in applying a heightened level of scrutiny to their expenditures in the hope that we can strengthen the organization through transparency.

  1. If the ASBA President and Board of Directors will not assist us in finding out these answers, we may need to contemplate disciplinary action or a motion of censure at the upcoming June 6th Spring General Meeting. Are we at the point where school boards have to try and FOIP their associations in order to discharge their responsibilities for fiduciary oversight of public funds?
  2. If the ASBA-appointed ASEBP Board will not disclose how much they are paying themselves and how much they are traveling, then we may need to explore other options such as a recall vote, suggest a review of them by the Alberta Legislature Public Accounts Committee, review by the Superintendent of Insurance, or appeal to the Minister of Education for assistance.

(Continued: Aloha! Part 2: is the ASEBP a service of the ASBA? http://www.michaeljanz.ca/2016/05/aloha-pt-2-is-the-asebp-a-service-of-the-asba/)

Can a School Board leave the ASBA?

On Monday, the Edmonton Public School Board invites the 61 member school boards of the Alberta School Boards Association to restore school board choice in membership. We have put forward an emergent amendment for discussion, requesting that our employee health plan (the Alberta School Employees Benefit Plan) not require school boards to be ASBA members. For over 34 years this was the case– boards could access the benefit plan, but were not required to be ASBA members to do so.

Section 5.3.1 of the ASEBP Deed of trust was amended in 1994, adding a new requirement that in order to participate in ASEBP, a school board must either be a member of the ASBA, or be approved for participation by the parties to the deed.

This amendment does not align with the Alberta School Boards Association Act, which provides that ASBA membership is voluntary, not mandatory, and was made without the District’s approval, with the result that the Board feels that it has been deprived of its statutory right to choose ASBA membership, or not. This amendment was purely designed to artificially strengthen the ASBA and was politically motivated in nature. It does not enhance the benefits for employees or for boards.

EMERGENT MOTION:
1. Section 3-3.1(b) shall be amended as follows:

Membership in ASBA shall NOT be a requirement for boards to be eligible for continued participation in group benefits through ASEBP;

Current ASBA policy reads:

Association Partnerships 3-1 Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP)
The Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) takes the following positions with regard to the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP) Deed of Trust:
1 Membership in ASBA shall be a requirement for boards to be eligible for continued participation in group benefits through ASEBP;
2 ASEBP administration shall operate independently of the ASBA and the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) by reporting directly to the ASEBP Insurance Board;
3 The ASEBP Trust shall be solely responsible for any liabilities of the ASEBP plans or operation; 4 The ATA and the ASBA shall refrain from appointing their collective bargaining negotiators to the ASEBP board of directors; and
5 a. Appointment of representatives from ASBA to the ASEBP board of directors shall be for a maximum of two successive three-year terms; and
b. Representatives from ASBA to the ASEBP board of directors may serve for more than two, three- year terms provided they are not successive.

This amendment would bring the ASBA back in conformance with the Alberta School Boards Association Act (which provides school boards the ability to leave the ASBA), and would make it more responsive to its member boards, leading to greater member satisfaction and a stronger ASBA. Lastly and most importantly, it would promote and honour local autonomy for all boards.

We will be proposing this emergent motion at 0900AM, Monday November 16th at the ASBA Fall General Meeting. Edmonton Public Schools has been actively advocating to the ASBA Board of Directors to undo the amendment requiring membership since June 2015(01 – June 3, 2015 Letter from General Counsel re ASEBP Deed of Trust).

We are optimistic that other school boards will support us, such as the board of Medicine Hat School District (below).

ASEBP Letter RE Edmonton Public Position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our request letter:

Emergent Item (ASEBP)

 

 

 

 

Celebrating EPSB and Metro School Board Advocacy

Click the underlined text to download and read our Winter Metro Board Newsletter. Like most blogs, this post is a personal reflection on provincial public education advocacy.

I’m excited for the Edmonton Public School Board to further strengthen our relationship with the Metro School Boards Group (MSBG) next year. This is easily the biggest “bang for our buck” advocacy relationship for EPSB. Together, we amplify the voices of our communities while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are maximized in the classroom. An example of this action was the ad-hoc April 20th gathering of 19 school boards during the provincial election, (initiated by the four metro school boards).

Percentage of Alberta Students by School Board:

Calgary Board of Education: 18.3%

Edmonton Public School Board: 14.5%

Calgary Catholic School District – 8.5%

Edmonton Catholic School District – 6.2%

As you can see, the four metro boards make up 47.5% of students. Calgary Public and Edmonton Public school boards alone represent a third of students in Alberta.

The other rural school boards are part of other trustee advocacy organizations such as the:

Alberta Catholic Trustees Association (all 17 Catholic School boards are members)

Fédération des conseils scolaires francophones de l’Alberta
(All 4 Francophone boards are members)

Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta (28 public boards are members. Calgary Public and Edmonton Public are not members.

Private and Charter Schools have their own lobbying groups as well.

At this time, 61 school boards in Alberta are part of the Alberta School Boards’ Association. There are 63 school boards in the ASBA (and two from the Yukon) representing 601,678 students paying $2,993,302 in membership fees.

ASBA members include all Public, Catholic, and Francophone boards from rural and metro areas. Most of the other rural school boards have very few students and very different challenges than the four metro school boards. For example, 0nly nine Alberta school boards have more than 10,000 students and sometimes in trying to be everything to everyone, individual messages and values get lost. Anecdotally, I have also heard from a few different rural public school boards that they would prefer to only be a member of the PSBAA, rather than being a member of both the ASBA and the PSBAA, because the PSBAA better articulates their public concerns on issues such as Gay Straight Alliances or Catholic School Board expansion in rural communities. Similarly, I’ve also heard from Catholic trustees who would prefer to only be members of the ACSTA.

I predict we may see a shake-up in school board representation at the provincial level (a subject for a future blog post). In 2013 Calgary Public was quite frustrated with the ASBA and moved to withhold 10% of their membership citing concerns about the value of ASBA membership. Edmonton Public Schools will be debating leaving the ASBA this fall. Personally, I resigned as Vice-President of the ASBA and you can read my letter of resignation here.

So what is the most effective way to tell the Calgary and Edmonton education story?

When I look at the political landscape and reflect upon where our board can get the biggest bang-for-our-buck, it’s by focusing on expanded and collaborative advocacy with the four metro school boards. In the municipal world, the urban and rural are not under the same umbrella. The cities are part of the AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) while the counties are part of the AAMDC (Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties).

The four chair’s of the metro school boards regularly participate in Video Conference calls strategizing on joint issues of concern and brainstorming about new opportunities to advocate. Last year we published joint newsletters, held meetings with the Education Minister, lobbied government and opposition MLAs, and shared best practices and collaborated on emergent issues.

Being a big school board can sometimes mean “more money more problems” but there are also unique opportunities as large boards. We recognize that there is a diversity of need throughout the province (urban, rurban, and rural). As metro boards, our issues and our capacity to respond to these challenges are simply different. This isn’t to say that as metro boards we aren’t willing to support other boards or associations on an ad hoc basis when our issues align like we did with the 19 boards during the provincial election.

The best part? The Metro School Board Group partnership is virtually free. We don’t have staff, expensive travel and accommodation costs, we are focused on Alberta (as opposed to out-of-province activities) and we don’t charge a membership fee. The contribution is the opportunity cost of our time and the occasional staff support on projects. We are nimble, efficient, and effective.

Next steps…

In future, there may be need or interest in enhancing the work we do with the four metros — maybe even formalizing this partnership with a Memorandum of Understanding (or the creation of the Metro School Boards’ Association?) but with limited time and energy, I’m pleased to see the results and the relationships that have developed by focusing on the areas of shared concern.

As our board debates this fall about the merits of membership in the Alberta School Boards’ Association, it is certainly worth reflecting on which relationships provide the greatest return on investment for our students.

Edmonton Public Schools to debate leaving the Alberta School Boards’ Association

(This post copied from June 23rd Highlights blog post)

Our next EPSB board Meeting is September 8th. We will certainly have a very busy year ahead!

One of the first items on our agenda will be discussions about provincial advocacy and what the place of the Edmonton Public School Board is within various member organizations. As you may recall in 2012, the EPSB ended it’s membership with the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta. Our board may yet have a similar debate about our future relationship with the Alberta School Boards’ Association, a member-service and advocacy organization.

Trustee Orville Chubb moved the following Notice of Motion.  The Motion will be discussed at the September 8, 2015 Board meeting.

Please be advised that the following Notice of Motion was served at the June 23, 2015 Edmonton Public School Board meeting:

  1.   That the Board affirm its desire to maintain coverage for its employees under the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan.
  1.   That the Board give notice of its intention to, in the fall of 2015, consider a motion to end its membership in the Alberta School Boards Association.
  1.  That the Board give notice of its intention to ask the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta School Boards Association, and the Board of the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan to amend the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan Deed of Trust to delete the requirement for membership in the Alberta School Boards Association to be eligible to be a participating employer in the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan.
  1. That the Board give notice of its intention to ask the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta School Boards Association and the Board of the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan to exercise their discretion to allow the District to continue to be a participating employer in the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan irrespective of its membership status in the Alberta School Boards Association.

I will craft a more fullsome blog post soon outlining some of my thoughts on provincial advocacy opportunities and strategic partnerships.

I believe there are exciting ways to amplify the voices of our communities while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are maximized in the classroom. An example of this was the ad-hoc April 20th gathering of 19 school boards during the provincial election, (initiated by the four metro school boards, not by the ASBA).

Since we do not use ASBA services, the significant expenditure that EPSB spends on the ASBA ($206,286 plus trustee time, travel, and staff support) has been of unanimous concern to our board as articulated in the February 23, 2015 Letter from Trustee Nathan Ip requesting a membership fee reduction of 10%, and that the ASBA cease membership in the American National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Canadian School Boards’ Association (CSBA).

As leaders, we want to be proud of every single dollar we spend as stewards. I reflect frequently on our responsibility as stewards as the taxpayer dollar and I ask myself: “Do we derive value from our participation in the ASBA?” and if not, “can we build a better alternative?”

*update June 25th: Metro News picked up the story: http://metronews.ca/news/edmonton/1408528/edmonton-public-schools-to-consider-leaving-alberta-school-board-association/

*You can also read the proposed budget & bylaws bulletin for the ASBA here: bb_bulletin15

* You can also read my letter of resignation here: http://www.michaeljanz.ca/2015/06/resignation-letter-as-vice-president-alberta-school-boards-association/

Resignation Letter as Vice-President Alberta School Boards’ Association

From: Michael Janz
Date: Fri, May 29, 2015 at 11:48 AM
Subject: Letter of Resignation as Vice-President ASBA
Dear Board Chairs and School Board Trustees:

Re: Letter of Resignation as Vice-President ASBA

It is with great concern and regret that I this letter to you. Effective immediately, I resign as Vice-President to the Alberta School Boards’ Association.

When I campaigned for Vice-President at FGM November 2013, I made it clear to our membership that, if you elected me, my priorities were 1) Focus on Advocacy and 2) Fiscal Restraint. On my campaign material and in debate, I explicitly outlined my commitment:

Fiscal Restraint: Control costs, focus our initiatives, and help keep our fees down.

  •  In alignment with provincial direction, demonstrate restraint and help focus dollars on the classroom
  •  Demonstrate transparency and build the confidence of our membership in the allocations of our budget
  •  Find ways to encourage efficiencies while offering high-quality services to members.

I do not believe these commitments align with the current direction of the ASBA and thus I cannot continue as your Vice-President and fulfill this mandate.

I believe that as elected officials we risk undermining our own advocacy efforts when our advocacy for education funding to support the classroom is not congruent with actions that align with our values. Despite my best efforts to work toward the above committments, as I feel I cannot speak in support of the direction, I resign on principle.

This is a very difficult decision that I do not take lightly. Personally, I will not be pursuing further leadership within the ASBA, but would encourage others to get engaged. I believe the association would be strengthened by policies and opportunities to inform and engage member boards in debates that occur at the board of directors table.

Outside of the ASBA, I continue to welcome opportunities to work collaboratively, such as continuing the work the 19 growth boards started during the provincial election.

If you would like to discuss this further, I will be at the Spring General Meeting, speaking from the floor as Edmonton Public School Board Chair. I hope we can work together to create a budget and pass bylaws that enhance confidence in our association. You can reach me at this email.

Sincerely,

Michael Janz

The Edmonton Sun Picked up the story on May 31st:

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/05/31/edmonton-public-school-board-chair-michael-janz-says-hes-stepping-down-as-vice-president-of-the-alberta-school-boards-association