September 1997

First Council Meeting
First Council Meeting


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First Council Meeting
Focuses on Finance, History

Council Photo

By Denys Gigučre

The Governing Council and guests celebrated the founding of the College of Teachers with speeches and congratulations at the College’s first Council meeting May 1 and 2. But Council members quickly turned their attention to business with an in-depth review of College finances.

Elections of the members, chairs and vice-chairs of the College’s seven committees also played an important part of Council’s preparations to take control of teachers’ professional body. The results of those votes are reported in the Blue Pages.

To ensure the College’s financial statements and the 1997 budget were carefully reviewed, Council members added a one-day session to the agenda – June 20 – to allow the Finance Committee to examine the College’s finances and report back to the Council.

"Once the committees were fully in place, finances quickly became our priority," said Donna Marie Kennedy, chair of the Governing Council. "Of course, the Council takes financial matters very seriously. We’ve all had to make a number of changes in recent years to tighten budgets, bring in fiscal controls and keep an eye on expenditures. With a new organization like the College, this must be done right from the start."

Council members particularly voiced their concerns about the $90 membership fee, which was a condition of the loan guarantee by the Minister of Finance for the establishment of the College. The guarantee covers 1997 to 1999 and limits the options available to the Council to change the fee during that period. Council members agreed to explore the options available to them for 1998 and 1999.

Sudbury math teacher Paul Charron, head of the Finance Committee, praised the way the College’s budget was developed. "Management has done a very thorough job of gathering facts and using them to construct the expense budget," he said. "We were satisfied with the explanations and that the budget provides for this year’s operations in a reasonable way."

After thorough line-by-line examination of the 1997 operating budget of $11.8 million and the $4 million capital budget and a question and answer discussion led by Charron, the Council agreed to receive both the 1996 financial statements and the 1997 budget.

The financial statements for the fiscal period ending December 31, 1996 are printed in the Blue Pages.

Bylaws and regulations

Council also adopted a new regulation which enables the College to take over teacher certification from the Ministry of Education and Training (see Teacher Qualifications Regulation in the Blue Pages), and bylaws setting out the contents of the College’s public register, forms to be used and information that members must provide to the College. As well, it amended a bylaw to remove the fee for name changes on the College’s registry.

As Donna Marie Kennedy noted, "Council members felt it was appropriate to waive the fee as it is mostly women in society who have to change their names. This seems more equitable to us."

In addition, Council members appointed the members of the Election Review Committee at the June 20 session, and adopted a motion to set up an editorial board of three elected and two public members for Professionally Speaking.

Council’s discussion of the new Grades 1 to 8 curriculum reflected concerns voiced by members of the profession across the province. The members decided to send a letter to the Minister of Education and Training to express the College’s concerns about the implementation of the new curriculum. A copy of the letter is printed in the Blue Pages.

First meeting made history

The first Council meeting marked a historical moment for many of the guests, who reminded members that the proposal for a college of teachers had been germinating for more than 30 years.

Guests included former NDP Minister of Education and Training Dave Cooke, Bette Stephenson, Minister of Education in the Bill Davis government, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Veronica Lacey, Ivor Sutherland, Registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, as well as Rod Sherrell and Marie Kerchum, respectively Vice-Chair and Vice-Registrar of the British Columbia College of Teachers.

Stephenson regaled members and guests with tales of her battles with Registrar Margaret Wilson when Wilson was president of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. She said she’s waited a long time for a college of teachers in Ontario.

"As an old practising family physician and obstetrician, I can tell you that gestation periods have been of great interest to me," she said. "For me, this is 15 years of gestation and I have to tell you, even elephants don’t have to wait that long."

Cooke, who was Minister during the early stages of implementation of the College in 1994, focused on the importance of the College for the occasion.

"All of us who believe in the public education system recognize that the only way that public education will survive and strengthen is if there’s an increase in public confidence in the public system," he said. "I see the College of Teachers as a major initiative that will strengthen the public’s confidence in the system."

The College also received greetings from all over the world – as far as New Zealand – and even a special gift from the British Columbia College of Teachers, Canada’s only other self-regulating body for teachers.

The gift is a native traditional talking stick with four symbols on it – the raven, for wisdom; the bear, for strength; the beaver, for hard work and industrious behaviour; and the eagle for power, prestige and peace. Talking sticks are used in the native culture to give a person the right to speak in a meeting.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland – the first teachers’ college – presented the Chair with an engraved gavel with the wish that she will seldom have to use it to bring order to the debate.

"We accomplished a lot in these first three days of meetings" concluded College Registrar Margaret Wilson. "This Council is very capable and has set the tone for what will be an exciting and productive year. I feel strongly that the course we are mapping will be good for teachers and the public alike."