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That intriguing volleyball money

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This was the fastest I’ve ever signed up for Leisure Guide volleyball, 17 minutes, took just two ‘too busy’ tries before I got into the system, probably thanks to the city’s decision to hold swimming lessons registration a day before everything else.

But you came here to hear me whine, not praise, so let’s have at it.

I was doing one of those long-overdue cleanups at home of old magazines and stuff, and found a Leisure Guide from the winter of 2007-2008, pretty much four years to the day. Volleyball cost $54.97 for eight weekly sessions at Carpathia School.

The session for which I just signed up, like the one that ended a week ago, will cost $85.

That’s a 54.6 per cent increase in four years. Yes, I did it on paper, but also confirmed it by calculator, we’re not getting into the ongoing math furore here.

When the Leisure Guide came out, I had earlier called Rene Appelmans, the secretary-treasurer of Winnipeg School Division, to ask about this huge windfall that WSD was enjoying by renting out its school gyms to the city.

Imagine my shock and surprise when Appelmans told me that the money paid by the city for gym rentals had not changed in a decade.

"The last time we saw a change was back in 2001," Appelmans said. "We’re just trying to recover costs."

Gosh, who could have seen that coming? Surely, a city council that’s frozen property taxes for many years couldn’t be jacking up user fees?

Appelmans did tell me that the city covers the custodian’s costs, so I went on the Manitoba School Boards Association website, and found that custodians in WSD had two increases of 1.375 per cent last year, have two phased-in increases this year of 1.25 per cent each, and another two raises of 1.25 per cent next year.

Gosh again, custodians must have made a bundle from 2007 through 2009, right?

Um, no. Their salaries went up a total of 11.6 per cent from December of 2007 to December of 2011. That’s a tad short of 54.6 per cent.

Hmmmm.

No change in the program, still eight weeks each session, a new volleyball or two in those four years but still the same ratty old nets with no spring to them.

I put in a request Wednesday to hear the city’s side of the story, still waiting to hear back.

In other stuff....

I hear sometimes from parents who are squabbling with their kids’ school and/or division. This one parent told me horror stories about a principal early this past week. This parent wants the division to act, but the division is oblivious to the parent’s entreaties. Meanwhile, says the parent, the teachers’ union has threatened to sue the parent, and the division has told the parent not to bother showing up to volunteer in the kids’ classrooms anymore.

But, the parent told me, nine other families will verify the horror stories, and will sit down with me to be interviewed with carte blanche to use their names and photographs for publication. They’re very anxious to do so. But by this evening, Sunday, I’ve yet to hear another word.

Sigh.

Meanwhile, I saw another job ad for a school principal. No, not in Thompson. This time it was for the school on Roseau River First Nation, the school that former chief terry Nelson was threatening to close down this year, and send all the kids to public school in Dominion City because of the ongoing funding disputes with Ottawa.

What also intrigued me is that the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre is doing the hiring, not Roseau.

But so far, no response to my phone and email messages.

Meanwhile.....

I received an email one morning from someone in the States about a new movie. Not all that unusual; what was unusual is how much phishing this person did to hit one mailbox.

It was copied to nick.martin@fidelity.com; nick.martin@gov.sk.ca; nick.martin@hiscox.com; nick.martin@mobiledataforce.com; nick.martin@personalcreations.com; nick.martin@tacometals.com; nick.martin@unitedwater.com; nick.martinelli@pgnmail.com; nick.martino@itwcovid.com.....so many people sharing my name.

Hey guys, how’s it goin’, eh? How are things at unitedwater, Nick?

Change of subject....

As if we needed any more evidence of how much tougher women are than men, I was refereeing a women’s master’s game at UM. Last second of the first half, keeper dives face first to stop a low shot that skimmed the pitch and hit right on the end of her outstretched fingers.

Ew, gross.

I whistled the end of the half. The keeper’s teammates removed her glove, confirmed her finger was dislocated, someone popped it back into place — I surmised all this from overheard conversation, I wasn’t looking — nary a sound emerged from the keeper. She then walked calmly over to the bench, got her finger taped, put the glove back on, and played the second half.

Back to education, sort of......

I had business at Grant Park High School — no, no hints, other media monitor this stuff — but was super extra careful starting my drive back to the office. I had my own car, a standard, and when I turned from Nathaniel onto Grant, I kept it in second gear, watching the speedometer, only getting it into third by the time I reached Cambridge, only going to fourth by Waverley. Yes, I’m aware how annoyed the drivers were who were behind me, and if I get a photo radar ticket regardless of how slow I was going, will you testify on my behalf?

 

 

 

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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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