Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Where Do We Go From Here? part three: Time for Teachers to Take Charge

Teachers at many KPR schools, not just PCVS, have felt that they’ve been under pressure from both their union executives and KPR administration to keep their criticisms of decisions made by Board administrators to themselves.

Any employee of any organization will naturally feel disinclined to voice their criticisms of their employer openly, regardless of the situation. No one wants to make political enemies, or to put their supervisors in an uncomfortable position.

Nevertheless, one may easily see that such a chill on critique in the workplace, especially a workplace specifically designed to serve the public, will not have positive long-term results.

The fact of the matter, whether they admit it or not, is that management needs unions to help them run their organizations.

Union work isn’t particularly exciting or glamourous, and often union executives have a difficult time getting their members to take an active interest in what they do. After all, much union work is really a kind of ancillary management, and if the front-line workers wanted to be managers, most would already have gone that route. Public school teachers typically thrive on direct interaction with children and young adults. If they thrived on paperwork, they wouldn’t have become teachers in the first place.

Unions usually only make the news when their relationship with their employer has broken down and work stoppages threaten. News media almost always focus on wage demands, which are easy for the public to understand, rather than on substantive issues around working conditions, which most members of the public don’t understand or care about. On the personal level, employees usually only pay attention to their unions when they have grievances to pursue.

Equally important, however, is the union’s role in assisting the ongoing management of the organization by keeping on top of management decisions on a day-to-day basis. A really effective union local is the result of an active and aware membership who are willing to contend for executive positions, communicate frequently with one another and with their executives, help the executive keep a close eye on management, and demand that the executive and any staff at the union office hold management to high standards and don’t let mere wage negotiations hog center stage. This is especially important today, because salaries are largely determined by Queen’s Park. With little local control by either Board or union over wages, working conditions and learning conditions should be of paramount importance.

If the locals of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) have not taken the opportunity to speak out against a series of questionable decisions by KPR, from the balanced day, through huge expenditures on technology at the expense of educational quality, and now the proposed closing of PCVS, this may be the natural result of an inattentiveness on the part of teachers to their union locals.

The quality of teachers in the Peterborough area has never been higher. The emphasis placed in recent years on professionalizing teachers, requiring them to take additional qualification courses on an ongoing basis, and encouraging specialization, has resulted in an exceptional level of awareness across the spectrum. Teachers arguably know more about what’s going on their schools than do their principals. They certainly know more than Superintendents and other administrators, who can’t possibly keep track of all the classrooms for which they are supposedly responsible. Yet too often important information never makes it beyond the ears of other teachers.

Both elementary and secondary teachers need to take charge of their union locals, to make those locals into vehicles for positive change in the school system. ETFO and OSSTF should be seen by the public as working day-to-day to make sure the public’s tax dollars are being spent wisely by KPR administrators.

Step Three: All KPR teachers should make it their business to take a more active role in their unions, and to direct their executives to advocate publicly for better administration.

Another important point to consider is that almost all teachers are also property tax payers. Although teachers are paid from the public purse, they also pay into it, not merely through provincial income tax, but from their own property taxes. Even if teachers feel it improper to voice their criticisms of KPR’s management decisions in public, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from communicating their frustration as property-owners to our MPP Jeff Leal, who is paid to represent the interests of all Peterborough-area residents at Queen’s Park.

This is particularly important when it comes to KPR’s apparent attitude toward neighbourhood schools. Property tax payers deserve to have their dollars spent on school services for their own neighbourhoods, not just on mega-schools and new technology.

Step Four: All KPR teachers who live in the area should write to Jeff Leal to let him know that, as property-owners and taxpayers, they want Queen’s Park to monitor KPR’s decisions, and that they want neighbourhood schools made a priority.

It only takes a few minutes – here’s his email address:

If every KPR teacher took a few minutes to write a quick email, Leal’s mailbox would be full of communication from the people who know the most about our school system.

And that can only be a good thing.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Where Do We Go From Here? part two: Two "Full-Time Trustee Equivalents" are Better Than One

Does anyone outside the Fisher Drive boardroom think that KPR administration is doing a decent job of managing our schools and tax dollars?

Any one?

KPR Board of Trustee meetings in 2011 have looked little different from the ARC meetings of the spring: a steady stream of educated citizens, including many community leaders, consume most of the meeting time presenting arguments against the administration’s poorly-conceived decisions, and receive virtually no response from the public’s representatives at the table.

Then everyone goes back to their day jobs for two weeks while KPR administrators continue to take home six-figure salaries at the public expense while blundering their way through the glass-and-cubicle world of Fisher Drive, mismanaging our schools by remote control.

How can $377 million worth of education spending every year be left under the guidance of a mere handful of individuals who appear utterly out of touch with both the school communities and the public, and who demonstrate little awareness of provincial policy or the ramifications of the administrative decisions they rubber stamp?

How can our public schools, which comprise one of the very foundations of our civil society, institutions which play a pre-eminent role in the day to day lives of almost every family, be left with virtually zero public governance?

The situation boggles the mind. And yet our Liberal government, the Trustees themselves, and school board administrators alike go about their business as if it made all the sense in the world.

Here’s a chart showing how the number of Trustees for any given Ontario public school board is determined, based on the number of citizens paying taxes to that Board. The number arrived at here can be adjusted according to the land-area of the jurisdiction, population density patterns, and other factors. In most cases, the possible adjustments make no difference. In the case of KPR, our only adjustment is the addition of a First Nations representative to our group of 10 for a total of 11. This chart is on page 30 of the 2010 Ministry of Education Trustee guide, which also explains how the distribution of the trustees is to be made through the jurisdiction.

1000s of taxpayers
taxpayers per trustee



Most boards were designed to fall in the middle of this range. The largest category in the chart was created strictly for the Toronto District School Board. Note the strange discrepancies the chart creates, whereby taxpayers in a Board in the upper range of one category have less representation than those in a Board whose population falls within the lower ranges of the next category up. 

KPR, serving about 230,000 public school supporters (out of a total population of about 300,000 in the area), has an operating budget almost twice the size of the Limestone Board, whose largest population center is Kingston. The Durham Board, whose largest city is Oshawa, has a taxpayer base and budget almost twice the size of KPR’s, yet all three boards are governed by roughly the same number of Trustees (between 9 and 11). Even the Ottawa-Carleton Board, one of the largest in the province, has only 12 Trustees.

There’s a complicated formula to determine how much money Trustees can be paid, but it ends up being only about $10,000 per year. Think of it this way: our entire Board of Trustees gets paid much less than the Director of Education does all by himself. In fact, the entire Board earns about as much as does one principal.

This means that our publically-elected governance over a $377 million budget funded by nearly a quarter of a million taxpayers amounts to about one person’s work-time per year.

Is it any wonder, then, that School Board administrators are permitted to carry on as if they were teenage boys taking a joyride behind the wheel of their parents’ high-power car?

With less than five years of experience at Fisher Drive between them, Hick and Mangold appear dizzy with their newfound power and oblivious to speed limits, warning signs, and basic rules of the road. Imagine one stepping on the gas, gunning the big $377 million engine as fast as he can into the night, while the other leans out the window from his passenger seat, eagerly anticipating his turn behind the wheel.

And where are their parents?

Our democratically-neglected Trustees sit impassively in the Boardroom when members of the community come to complain of the dangerous on-road antics of their charges. One says she’ll think about possibly talking it over with the rest of the elders. Maybe in a few weeks.

The sad truth is that our Boards of Trustees have been purposely set up not to provide democratic, community-based guidance over our schools, but rather to discourage it. They serve to shield both the local administration and the provincial government from accountability to the citizens who pay for and use the schools, and pay the salaries of the administrators themselves, the Trustees, Ministry officials, and legislators.

It's high time that our MPP Jeff Leal and the Liberal government stopped hiding behind this sham system. To address the democratic deficit around school boards by altering the chart above would cost almost nothing in the way of tax dollars. What rationale could there be for allowing such a wide discrepancy between taxpayers regarding their representation, whereby a supporter of the Limestone DSB shares her Trustee with about 15,000 others, but a supporter of KPR in Peterborough shares hers with about 30,000 others?  

Jeff Leal is reportedly in favour of increasing Peterborough’s representation at the Board of Trustees. But can we count on him to actually do anything to make this happen?

Let me propose Step Two:

Leal, Premier McGuinty, and the Minister of Education Laurel Broten should be aggressively lobbied to improve the formula by which Trustees are allocated across the province.

Leal and McGuinty shouldn't be allowed to hide behind
our democratically-neglected and ineffective Trustees

Maybe, if we all lobby really hard, by 2014 we might even get up to the equivalent of two full-time human brains governing our $377 million local school system.

Maybe then thousands of citizens wouldn’t be forced to expend endless amounts of their own energy trying to prevent two men with less than five years collective experience at Fisher Drive from racing to shut down a priceless 180-year-old school, leaving central Peterborough with no schools of any kind in return for its annual contribution of many millions of tax dollars.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Where Do We Go From Here? part one: Let's Prioritize Community over Technology

Over the past six weeks, this blog has endeavoured to show in detail the many wrong turns taken by civil servants and elected officials in the lead-up to the astonishing move by our current Board of Trustees and educational administrators to hastily vote out of existence one of Peterborough’s most important, well-regarded, and longest-standing civic institutions.

The desire for centralized control over education stemming from the Harris years has finally reached its irrational but inevitable terminus in the current KPR administration’s paradoxical move to undermine the very foundations of a community which it is the Board’s mandate to serve, and whose expenses are paid by its tax dollars.

That a decision to close the best-performing school in the fleet, with the deepest community roots, could appear to be both rational and defensible to a group of administrators and elected officials is a powerful indication that the policy and decision-making mechanisms behind our provincial and local education systems are woefully inadequate.

So – where do we go from here?

The next several posts will examine possible futures, practical solutions, and progressive policy suggestions.

To begin, it will be helpful if we step back from the attempt to close PCVS far enough to see how it fits in with other decisions made by KPR administrators recently.

The most prominent of these is the implementation of Wi-Fi.

Wireless technology was implemented this past summer throughout our schools, in readiness for the current school year. The KPR Board of Trustees received a steady stream of citizen complaints over this decision, but chose to ignore them, even going so far as to cut off public delegations to the Board on the subject. The primary focus of public discontent was, and is, the issue of safety. Why expose children to continuous radiation, unnecessarily? is a question the technology’s opponents have rightly asked.

The cost of the technology has come under less scrutiny. The 2011-2012 KPR budget announced a $7 million computer hardware and software expenditure this year, as you’ll see on page 5. Its hard to imagine on what grounds software can be considered a “capital expenditure,” but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Presumably, a significant portion of this was for Wi-Fi systems, laptop computers and “smart boards.”

Have a look through the previous few annual budgets, available through the same link above. Though considering classroom technology expenditures to be “capital” is a new practice, spending $7 million a year on computer technology is not new to KPR, as previous budgets show. In both 2008-09 and 2009-10, the operating expenditure for classroom technology was well over this figure. In 2009-10, the province’s “technology refresh program” kicked in an extra $420,000 in revenues for this purpose, but in general, as you can see from the “Grants for Student Needs” section on the revenue pages on the recent budgets, the province’s basic support for classroom technology is to be considerably less than this amount – in fact, between $1 million and $2 million a year.

The discrepancy in these figures suggests that KPR administrators and Trustees have been making decisions to prioritize technology over other important educational commitments.

Such a direction is in keeping with public statements made by Diane Lloyd, Gordon Gilchrist and Steven Cooke in which technological upgrading has been presented as a self-evident good and a major priority.

It would also be in keeping with the many reports of penny-pinching measures at schools around Peterborough.

At one city school, a French teacher is obliged to travel from classroom to classroom, carting around all her materials, making it next to impossible for a proper second-language learning space to be created, while an available classroom sits empty, locked by KPR administrators in an attempt to save a few dollars a day. At another city school, administrators forcibly changed the bell times by a substantial amount so they could use one fewer bus, supposedly to save money. This move backfired, as several families simply changed schools, reducing enrolment and therefore funding, mitigating the proposed savings while inconveniencing hundreds of people. And remember that at the last Board meeting Hick and Mangold tried to justify disrupting Kenner’s school community by transferring the intermediate programs out of Kenner with the argument that they could save a few thousand bucks on custodial costs.

This is the same administration which spent $27,000 on a TASSS-conversion feasibility study and paid Don Blair $60,000 to chair the ARC.

Although the official line regarding the need for the secondary school accommodation review has been that small schools create programming limitations, and KPR administrators have denied that the motivation to close a school is financially-based, the evidence points to the contrary.

If KPR is spending millions more dollars year after year on computer technology than the province is providing for such a purpose, while still filing a balanced budget, where is the money coming from?

And what, exactly, is the $2 million-plus in annual Special Purpose grants specifically to deal with declining enrolment (which you will see on the Revenue charts on page 3 of the budgets) being used for, if not to keep schools open?

Imagine what the York Region-style, big-sprawl mentality with which Fisher Drive seems to be infected sees when it looks at Peterborough’s secondary student population as an aggregate. Could that mindset be saying to itself that they could get by with fewer buildings, fewer principals, and fewer custodians, freeing up money to pay for those Wi-Fi routers, which are apparently now a capital expense?

It’s all a matter of priorities. Clearly, neighbourhood-based school communities do not rank very highly on the lists kept by KPR administrators – or by some Trustees.

One does not have to look very far to see that this prioritizing of computer technology over community integrity is completely at odds with the priorities of the families of school-age children and teenagers throughout the city whom KPR is meant to serve.

It’s time for KPR’s elected Trustees to recognize that smart boards don’t make people smarter, nor does hi-speed internet access get students to think faster.

It’s time for Trustees to officially acknowledge that the educational experience all comes down to human interaction. It’s time for them to recognize that communities are centered around schools, and that maintaining a healthy network of neighourhood-based school communities should be the highest priority at all times.

A true “smart Board” of Trustees would not let itself get carried away with the fantasy that flooding classrooms with “smart boards” could ever be worth sacrificing school communities to accomplish.

Thus we arrive at our first step going forward.

Step 1: Our Trustees should be instructed by citizens to give clear, ongoing policy direction to KPR’s administrators to prioritize Peterborough’s invaluable network of neighbourhood schools now and in the future.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Why Fear Critical Dialogue on Our Schools?

It was suggested in a letter to the editor recently that any decision worth its salt will withstand questioning.

In these words are captured the very spirit of learning itself.

In the academy, researchers and scholars train for many years, honing their critical skills, building their knowledge base, and working to steadily improve and expand our collective store of wisdom and information about ourselves as humans and the universe in which we live.

Every bit of knowledge is provisional. Every argument is open to questioning, critique and rebuttal. It’s never shameful to admit that one’s research could be improved upon, that some other perspective on a given issue may reveal the object of study in a new and valid way.

To bring this principle to the political level, we may look to city council as an example. Councillors are charged with making a huge number of decisions directly affecting their constituents, running the gamut from the placement of driveways to sweeping urban plans, from the timing of buses to waterfront revitalization. With only ten councillors plus the mayor, it’s nearly impossible for any one councillor to have all the knowledge and information required to make the best decision possible in every circumstance.

When decisions are made with which some citizens don’t agree, city councillors have shown themselves generally to be open to hearing other arguments on the subject. When councillors disagree with one another, debate is encouraged. When councillors from one ward are put in a position to make a decision affecting a different ward, they often defer to the judgment of the representatives of the ward in question. Many times Peterborough city council has reversed or modified decisions whose weaknesses have been shown by citizens. Many times compromises have been reached in an ongoing attempt to make the best choices, in response to arguments and concerns legitimately raised by citizens and citizens’ groups.

Too often Ontario school boards have assumed attitudes of infallibility. Perhaps this is the natural result of school board administration being largely comprised of former teachers trained in “classroom management” and encouraged to play the role of the authority figure before groups of potentially unruly students.

School board Trustees have been given the task of overseeing school operations in much the same way as city councillors oversee the workings of the city. As shown in previous posts, the relative size of the budgets are about the same. However, due to the Harris-era school board amalgamations, there are now far fewer Trustees than there used to be. At KPR we have only 11 Trustees to oversee nearly 40,000 students and a nearly $400 million budget. If city councillors face a difficult task, imagine how much more difficult it is for Trustees to develop holistic perspectives on a given issue.

It has thus become relatively easy for school board administrators to rule by fiat, turning a deaf ear to the concerns of school communities and pressuring Trustees to simply rubber stamp their decisions.

KPR administration should examine its own attitudes toward its constituents, and open itself to critical dialogue, rather than trying to quiet its critics as if they were a classroom full of kids running around with Hallowe’en candy. Trustees, too, should recognize that there is no shame in reversing or significantly altering their decisions when new information comes to light.

What could be the harm in taking the muzzle off teachers, who have dedicated their adult lives to the cause of education, and surely have invaluable perspectives to offer on the issues of programming, educational success, and school community development?

The true principle of democracy is not simply that everyone gets to cast a vote for a representative. The true principle of democracy is that every individual’s knowledge and imagination has the potential to make a positive contribution to social organization.

This is the Enlightenment-era concept, born of Renaissance-era  Humanism, that drove the formation of the first democratic republics in America and France. The more brains devoted to solving a given problem, the more likely that the solution arrived at will be a good one.

Aristocracies regress. Military dictatorships stagnate. True democracies thrive on critical dissent and move forward stronger.

A “father knows best” attitude may have its moments of usefulness in the classroom and the home, but it doesn’t go very far in cultivating a dynamic and progressive social organization. To stifle critical discourse regarding our education system is terrifyingly ironic, and sure to produce unwanted results.

The city of Peterborough is filled with bright, educated, critical minds.

Let’s make use of them rather than trying to shut them down.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Be a "Stand By-er," not a Bystander

It is fitting that, as KPR begins “Bullying Prevention and Awareness” week, the civil liberties crackdown by which many of Peterborough’s most dedicated teachers (who are also in many cases community leaders) have been forcibly silenced - told in no uncertain terms that they will face consequences should they in any way be associated with any criticism of the Board - has finally reached the general public.

On November 3, the Examiner wrote in this article that Superintendent Peter Mangold had issued a memo to this effect. In the same article, MPP Jeff Leal said he knew of no provision in the Education Act to warrant such a measure. But, as we’ve seen in previous posts, KPR administration has often disregarded provincial policy.

The Examiner last week ran an editorial cartoon of teachers with tape over their mouths. Last Thursday,  Peterborough this Week published a photo of the students’ own “duct tape protest” in which they graphically demonstrated the current repressive atmosphere at PCVS. Indeed, the stifling atmosphere has permeated schools across the city, as union executives of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) have failed to come to the defence of their members, and local Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) reps have advised Peterborough’s elementary teachers to keep their mouths shut too.

In an audacious display of hypocrisy, the OSSTF Local 14 website is currently promoting “Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week,” adding insult to injury for their own members, whose legal rights they appear to care nothing about. Union executives, both local and provincial, have allowed themselves to become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

One thing that the OSSTF office and Fisher Drive have in common is that they’re both largely occupied by former teachers who decided that administrative jobs with big salaries and respectable titles are preferable to slogging it out in the classroom year after year. Both offices have become havens for career-climbers who like the idea of working in the educational field, but are tired of dealing with those pesky students. When confronted on the current civil-liberties crackdown by their own union members, who pay their salaries and whose interests they have been hired to defend, OSSTF officials have stood dumbly with no answers.

Careerism is a problem in any field, but it has reached outrageous proportions in the Ontario education system ever since the Harris government made the job of principal one that almost nobody wants. Harris took the principals out of the teachers’ union, leaving them no protection and putting them at the mercy of administrative whims of the Ministry and the Board office, while still having to deal with the litany of problems brought to them by parents and teachers. Vice-principals were cut back while paperwork increased, making the job is so unpalatable that most of the people willing to take on the positions are those looking to put the minimum five years in and then get that promotion to the Board office where they can make more money for less work. There aren’t enough good principals to go around, and rather than firing the incompetent ones, upper administration at KPR just keeps shuffling them around from school to school in hopes of minimizing the damage. Even the good ones eventually succumb to the lure of Fisher Drive.

The motto of such personages appears to be simply “don’t rock the boat,” putting them squarely in the “bystander” camp.

Surely Mangold, a TASSS parent who was himself a principal until very recently, must have an inkling that his own supervisors are way off base in trying to close PCVS. How does he show up to Trustee meetings with a straight face and argue that Kenner Intermediate should be closed?

"Don’t rock the boat" - one can imagine this refrain being hummed throughout the halls of Fisher Drive and the OSSTF offices, conveniently provided for the hummers at the expense of Peterborough citizens.

OSSTF, teachers, Fisher Drive 

This scenario is disturbing enough, but how much more so is the spectacle of a union executive which won’t speak up for their members when their jobs and their civil rights are put in jeopardy by questionable decisions made by their employer. Why even have a union? is a question that one must ask at this point.

The MyKawartha story on teacher-silencing also features a link to the petition for administrative review of the PCVS-closure decision made to the Ministry of Education. I encourage you to take some time and have a look through it. It’s a well-researched, thoughtfully-presented document.

One would hope that an institutional leader possessed of good sense, ethics, and civil responsibility, when presented with a serious challenge to one of his decisions by the very people who pay his salary and whose interests he is meant to serve, would strongly consider putting that decision on hold until the issues around it could be resolved.

Instead, Hick and Lloyd have reacted by attempting to silence their critics in the hopes that a misguided and self-serving decision will squeak through the province’s review, allowing them to win a battle at the expense of their professional and civic reputations - a pyrrhic victory if there ever was.

KPR employees, students, families, union reps, and Peterborough citizens at large, all have the choice to be “Stand By-ers” or bystanders, to use one of KPR’s own anti-bullying slogans.

Which one will you choose?

Friday, 11 November 2011

"Put Real Estate Interests First" Coalition, part three, the last

I encourage you to take a drive up Armour Road and have a look for yourself at two properties. You can also see the listings on Lloyd’s own real estate website. Lloyd is the listing agent for two adjoining properties which have recently been severed from one another, both belonging to the Christian Fellowship Centre. 840 Armour Road is clearly visible from the street, on the east side just before you hit Moher’s Auburn Mills Plaza. The Fellowship, whose office is at 300 Milroy Drive, is an evangelical group connected with the Christian Fellowship International movement.

840 Armour was assessed by MPAC in 2008 at $128,000. The following year, construction began on a new church facility on the property. As you can see from the photo below and from the photos on Lloyd’s own website, the construction was never quite finished. The parking lot has curbs, but no surface. The building has never actually been used, and the adjacent property, which fronts on Spencley’s Lane just to the north, is littered with construction remnants.

840 Armour Road

By 2009, the construction was far enough along that MPAC assessed it at a value of $446,000. It’s unclear what went wrong at the Christian Fellowship, but evidently they abandoned the construction and put the property up for sale. Neighbourhood residents have wondered why the construction was taking so long. Because there are no “for sale” signs on the property, however, they weren’t aware that the property was actually on the market.

The current assessment value of the property is $314, 000. Diane Lloyd's website lists the property for sale at five times that figure, or $1.5 million. The Christian Fellows are on the hook for nearly $8000 in municipal taxes on the property this year, but would stand to make a huge profit if Lloyd does manage to sell it for anything close to what they’re asking, while Lloyd or her family members may collect a significant commission. It is unclear what Lloyd's relationship to the Fellowship may be, other than acting as their real estate agent.

The 235 Spencley’s Lane property is currently vacant and incurring no tax burden. Lloyd is listing that property, a vacant lot covered with construction garbage, at $330,000, although it is currently assessed at $240,000. Lloyd’s website states that the property has been zoned for high-density residential with between 16 and 30 units on it, meaning that if developed as such it could be assessed at ten times its current value. There is no “for sale” sign on this property either.

235 Spencley's Lane

“For sale” signs can be seen not only along the condominiums of Armour Road, but throughout the Frances Stewart development, indicating a glut in the property market in that neighbourhood. With the bottom falling out of the real estate market in 2009, it would seem that the Christian Fellowship’s investment income may have dropped to the point where they couldn’t afford to keep the property or finish the construction. Perhaps they had nurtured hopes of funding the church with income from the Spencley’s Lane development.

Many heavily-leveraged property owners across North America at this time got stuck holding properties they didn’t want and couldn’t move, and Peterborough was no different. It’s been tough to sell all kinds of properties in the past few years, but tougher still to sell unusual, expensive ones. It’s even tougher to sell a property when there’s no “for sale” sign on it. What was Lloyd's motivation for not putting her name up in public view for real estate transactions just down the road from a school whose fate she has had a firm hand in helping determine?

At a commission rate of 4.5%, Lloyd's business could perhaps hope to make close to $100,000 from the sale of 840 Armour and 235 Spencley’s – as much as a KPR principal earns in one year.

Let’s look at the possible futures. If TASSS were to close, the already slow real estate market along Armour Road would likely become depressed further still. The odds of anybody wanting to invest heavily in a church/office building or a 25-unit residential complex would be slim. The properties might sit there, draining money from the current owners, while Lloyd might face a very difficult task of selling them, even at their current assessment value.

On the other hand, if TASSS were to suddenly become reinvigorated with the Integrated Arts program, more students, and new KPR investment in the building, she might have a shot at getting considerably more than the assessed value of the properties.
In the second post on this blog, from October 14, entitled “Peter Adams and PCVS,” I stated that it was difficult to fathom why Lloyd wouldn’t heed the perspective of Adams, a former Liberal MP, school board Trustee, and Trent geography professor, in supporting the “vibrant, comprehensive inner-city high school” that is PCVS.

Trustee Gordon Gilchrist asked at the August 25th meeting, when his Baltimore neighbour Ringereide and Lloyd's Armour Road real estate neighbour Moher made their thinly disguised proposal to add the Arts program to TASSS and close PCVS, what would happen if the Board decided not to close TASSS. Lloyd replied, “A school needs to close, and we have to pick one or the other,” as reported by the Examiner.

Lloyd’s real estate business is based in Lakefield. You may recall that the original 2007 Capital Needs Assessment for KPR called for a review of Peterborough-area secondary schools for 2014 before the process was manipulated to focus on Peterborough city schools for 2011. The plain fact, evident to all on KPR’s 2011-12 budget, page 13, is that the lowest-enrolment secondary schools in the Peterborough area are in fact Norwood District, with an estimated 2011 student population of 348, and Lakefield District, with 460, and that these, along with TASSS,  are the least close-to-capacity schools in the area.

KPR enrolment figures for Peterborough area secondary schools
Adam Scott101780079%805782

Lakefield is fed by its own attached Intermediate school, which draws students from Buckhorn PS as well as Ridpath, and by K-8 schools in Warsaw and Apsley. These are the very elementary schools which could reasonably be redirected to feed TASSS if the Board wanted to boost TASSS’s enrolment. This means that Lakefield and TASSS are in direct competition with one another for students.

With Lakefield District already in a precarious position due to Hick’s obsession with large schools and filling capacity, Lloyd, representing her Lakefield constituency, presumably couldn’t support a scheme to prop up TASSS at the expense of LDSS. Without a high school, Lakefield would become nothing more than a glorified retirement village, sending demand for real estate by young and middle-aged families plunging. 

Is it possible that Lloyd failed to make public a personal interest in keeping TASSS open and of adding to it the Integrated Arts program, which had been built from the ground up over a long period by dedicated PCVS teachers?

Between them, Moher and Lloyd hold the keys to $4 million worth of investment property within sight of TASSS, potentially much more.

Moher’s pursuit of profit at the expense of downtown Peterborough may be repaid with a loss of public credibility.

One might question whether Lloyd’s failure to disclose her potential financial interest to the public, the absence of “for sale” signs in front of her properties, her expression of surprise at the results of the far-fetched feasibility study, and her failure to take action in response to the calls of hundreds of citizens, ARC members, and the Board’s own Trustees to address the absurd excuse for an accommodation review process, together suggest a potential conflict.

An honourable course of action for Diane Lloyd at this point may be to clarify her real estate interests, perhaps with an apology for not having already done so, and then strongly reconsider her position regarding the closing of PCVS.