Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

I missed such wonders at WSD, alas

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I can kiss goodbye any hopes of winning a National Newspaper Award, even though it was there for the taking at 1577 Wall St. one recent Monday evening — I missed by my own personal choice a huge meeting of Winnipeg school board that was chock-a-block with big stories.

You’ll recall I’d been whining again about the lack of agenda materials that the Winnipeg School Division board makes public ahead of time, so that both ink-stained wretches and members of the general public can decide if it’s worth attending.

Colleague Mary Agnes Welch blogged in my support, sharing my self-righteous indignation.

On my count, we’ll do this together, MA: three...two...one...harumph.

And I’ve paid the price of not going to the most recent board meeting, a call I made after board chair Suzanne Hrynyk declined to even listen to my pitch for some advance notice of the public business before the board.

The highlights of that most recent meeting are now online... alas, I must confess, I missed all of this momentous news.

The first significant meeting held since well before the Oct. 27 election, the first post-election public session to have a substantive agenda of the business facing province’s largest school division, the one with one-sixth of the province’s public school students, the one that spends about $330 million a year...

Of course, I should have expected them to have momentous debate, that all matters of urgency and the public good and the education of our children would have consumed the evening in public discussion...

Here’s what the WSD website says I missed:

  • "In accordance with Section 84(8) of The Public Schools Act, Religious Exercises will be conducted for students attending Sargent Park School for the balance of the 2010-11 school year for the children of those parents or guardians who signed the petitions.
  • "A special committee composed of three trustees, (one from each ward) will be established to review By-law No. 1064 to regulate the proceedings of the Board and Committees and to make recommendations if deemed necessary."

 How could I have blown it so badly? Talk about choking in the clutch... I rue the day I decided not to go. It must have taken hours of public debate to reach such history-making conclusions.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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