On a Wednesday evening, the issues of Marc Garneau’s overcrowding and moving TOPS were brought forth at a board-wide meeting, after being deferred from a meeting in September. The movement to relocate TOPS to a centrally located site in which it can expand has been going on for several years now. In Wednesday’s board meeting, discussions were deferred to June 2012 in order to gain reports from the in-school Work Committee, composed of students, teachers, parents, and community members. One trustee described the evening as “a sleazy hour” for the TDSB.
Student Trustees say that the decision to defer discussions is in the best interest of the program, as the motion to move TOPS immediately had had very little support on the evening of the meeting. During this deferral period, students will have a chance to make their voices heard through the Work Committee.
The Reckoner was able to provide live updates from the board meeting on 5 October:
We’re sitting back here in this huge-ass hall watching the trustees debating about what they should debate about.
“Item 15.1 on the agenda will be decided after a discussion on the modified agenda.
All those in favor of modifying the meeting agenda raise your hands. Opposed? Approved.”
“What about 14.7?”
“We just did 14.7. All those with conflicts of interest raise your hands.”
They discussed whether or not they should discuss the budget for about twenty minutes. They discussed the actual budget for about five minutes.
About an hour into the meeting and it is unclear if any real progress has been made. The language they use is hard to understand, consisting of vocabulary such as “moving items”.
Apparently the chair just got dissed. Everybody kind of looks confused.
And Steve Jobs died.
“There’s something missing there Mr. Chair.”
Ouch. How does that feel?
“I want to see us talking to the parents.”
They aren’t discussing anything related to TOPS at the moment.
“Particularly on page 6, number E.”
E is a number? Well the TDSB said it, so it must be true.
“We need to take care of this carefully, and slowly.”
Slowly: how everything seems to be done around here.
Also, one of the trustees is reading a picture book.
Woah. Hold on there, bro.
“Item number 16.1.”
I feel like this is it.
“But just before we talk about that…”
They’re introducing our issue.
We’re all anxious.
It has been proposed that the issue be deferred again. Stay tuned.
They are talking about the working group that was put in place to analyze the situation. It seems that the group has only been looking at timetable changes and did not discuss the option of moving the TOPS program.
A motion has been “moved” and “seconded” to defer the decision. That means they will be voting very soon on whether or not to defer.
“Deferral until June 2012 or until November 2012” is the motion being presented.
People are confused.
“I don’t see why it would take from September to June to solve this issue. A similar issue was addressed at Parkdale Collegiate in merely two weeks.”
First round of applause.
“Folks, you’re here to observe.”
Fuck that. We’re the ones that elected you. We deserve a voice Mr. Chair.
Okay fine, maybe we didn’t elect you. But you’re still supposed to be working for us.
“So what are we going to do? Are we just going to wait another 4 years to do something about this program?”
Third round of applause.
“We need an amendment to the amendment.”
Those who wish to defer the deferral and also do something about the problem should vote against the first deferral and then…wait…what?
“There is already another TOPS program!”
“The teachers will be mentored!”
“There will soon be another campus!”
“How many people are on the working group?”
Looks like nobody really knows what’s going wrong.
Applause again at “are you saying MGCI doesn’t have an urgency to it?” Dr. Spence laughs it off.
The chair leaves the room.
“Why are we using portables here when we have space all over the city?”
Op, the Chair is back.
“The issue seems to be split up into two parts: overcrowding, and the need for the TOPS program to grow. The solution to overcrowding seems to be timetable changes. For TOPS, I am hearing that the students, parents, and teachers want to expand the program at a separate site.”
Exactly. By the way, these quotes are not verbatim.
“Do we know if TOPS parents and students were consulted about this prior to the working group that was put in place.”
Several seconds of silence.
The audience didn’t agree.
“No. No! No! NO! NO!”
They don’t really care. And apparently, we shouldn’t speak out.
One trustee from a certain awesome ward of Willowdale just asked some really good questions. Apparently there are no grade nines at Georges Vanier.
At this point, a helpless group of teenagers sitting on the balcony of the TDSB board room is looking around, wondering what would happen if a vote were to happen right now. Does he support us? Does she support us?
Trustee Gershon argues that there are other specialized programs in the city in overcrowded schools. She says “we don’t have those constituents saying that [they] have to expand… but we have it in this case. There is another side to the argument.” “There are equally strong but less bitterously[sic] lobbying voices saying that the board should stay!”
“I want to clarify something because a lot of people are fighting…”
“I want the best for the kids! I want the best for Marc Garneau! I see a smile on your face… I hope you will support the deferral.”
Here comes the vote to defer…
In large caps, the word “CARRIED” appears on the board screen… looks like we’ll have to wait until June 2012 for any action. But what’s this? A new motion?
Things are getting dirty. The chair made a ruling, and someone just challenged the chair. It failed.
One trustee mentions: “this is not the TDSB’s finest hour… it’s a sleazy hour.”
at approximately 9:45, the TDSB moved to defer discussions on TOPS until June of 2012, waiting for reports from our in-school Work Committee focused on solving the overcrowding problem. TOPS students expressed their disbelief vibrantly by saying “No more waiting, TOPS is dying!”
The TDSB then moved to move the meeting into “deep private”, after which all public citizens, students, teachers, and parents were escorted out by the security.