By Robert Frank
Eligible voters in Montreal’s West End, West Island and off-island will get to choose from three candidates who are vying for the top job at the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) during the upcoming election, Nov. 2.
This will be the first time that the school board chair will be selected by direct election. Until now, school commissioners voted among themselves to pick who would get to fill the powerful post, which oversees more than $275 million in annual expenditure.
After nominations closed on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 5 p.m., LBPSB returning officer Remi Poliquin declared that Chris Eustace, Angela Nolet and Suanne Stein Day are the only three candidates running to chair the board for the next four years.
“I helped expose the misuse of $900,000 for a pre-kindergarten program,” said Eustace, an education advocate who taught in LBPSB schools, has been a steadfast presence at LBPSB council during the past 16 years.
He advocates redirecting more money back to the classroom by trimming administrative overhead, axing LBPSB’s $200,000 annual contribution to the Quebec English School Boards Association. He also wants more transparency at LBPSB, where elected commissioners must sign a “four-year gag order” that prevents them from talking about LBPSB matters after their mandate ends.
Nolet has served as an elected school commissioner for most of the past quarter-century and is LBPSB’s outgoing vice-chair. She told The Suburban that she wants to introduce a more collaborative approach to school board democracy. As an Anglophone who was educated in French schools, she believes that her fluency in both official gives her an edge over her opponents in dealing with Quebec City.
She favours bolstering French-language teaching to make LBPSB students more competitive and accentuates increasing transparency and public involvement at LBPSB. She also advocates private sector partnerships and reassessing LBPSB’s current use of its school building inventory.
Incumbent Stein Day took over the reins at LBPSB after her predecessor, Marcus Tabachnick, quit to join the private sector. After joining her school’s governing board, she moved up the heirarch of LBPSB’s parents committees was elected to head the Pearson Educational Foundation and served on the board of directors of the Quebec Home and School Associations.
She said her “passion for the excellence that is our classrooms” motivated her to run for re-election and that her work “as a self-employed consultant” permits her to attend “thousands of school events” during the week.
“I am proud to have spent time in every [LBPSB] school,” she wrote.