NEWS

TDSB chair Shaun Chen says staff, trustees want to 'turn the page'

01/05/2015 09:58 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST
The members of the Toronto District School Board are ready to "turn the page" on a series of challenges that have drawn headlines and put the organization under increased scrutiny in recent years, its chair said Monday evening.

"We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us," TDSB chair Shaun Chen told CBC News in an interview. "We've got a brand new board, we have trustees and staff wanting to turn the page on some of the controversies that we've been facing over the past couple years."

Those "controversies" have included reported tensions among board leaders, questionable spending by trustees and the need to have police officers present at meetings of trustees.

Half the board members are now veterans and half are rookies, as a result of changes brought about by the fall election. Chen, who has served as a trustee for more than eight years, said they are together being called upon to get down to business.

"When I talk to my colleagues and listen to the staff and students in the schools, they want us to focus on what's most important and that is the children in the system," he said. "We're very much focused on that core of making sure that our students are well-prepared for success and to address the needs of a diverse, large, urban student population."

In November, the Ontario government ordered a review of the TDSB as a result of what it described as "growing concerns about the governance of Ontario's largest school board."

The results of that review are expected to be delivered soon.

"We have expressed a clear willingness to work with the province, with the provincial reviewer, to identify any issues that we might have as a system," Chen said.

"Sometimes, you need a third party to look in and have a fresh set of advice and provide advice. And I believe any advice that we can get on how we can better our system is well received and we will certainly continue that approach."

Nearly a quarter-million school-age students attend TDSB schools, according to statistics available on the board website.

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