EMSB unanimously approves budget amid controversy

WATCH: A coalition of parents gathered in front of the EMSB headquarters on Tuesday to denounce the ongoing budget cuts to public education. The demonstration was scheduled to begin a few hours before the EMSB adopted its 2015-2016 budget. Billy Shields reports.

MONTREAL – The English Montreal School Board approved a $291 million budget Tuesday night, the vote was not without controversy.

Commissioner Julien Feldman told Global News that the EMSB’s leadership was mismanaging its delicate finances by making patronage appointments and overspending on administration.

“What we need to do is reduce the operating deficit by cutting the administrative sector and reinvest in the elementary sector,” he said.

Feldman pointed to two regional director positions and a new director general he said could be unnecessarily costing about $300,000.

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The board voted 5-3 to appoint Ann Marie Matheson, currently a principal in the Lester B. Pearson system, as director general. Feldman pointed to her salary of more than $100,000 and said she ran the campaign of EMSB chairperson Angela Mancini.

Mancini abstained from the director general vote. She told Global News the salary of the position was legislated by the province.

Out on the street, protesters against austerity descended on the English Montreal School Board Administration Building before the 8-0 vote took place to approve the 2015-16 budget.

The EMSB’s council of commissioners adopted a school board budget that will be “absorbing even more millions in budget cutbacks,” wrote Andrew Ross, the spokesperson for the Coalition of Parents for Public Schools in a prepared release.