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Castelmassimo (Veroli)
Sept 18, 2016

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03italianosalvoIncoherency at York Catholic should never be rewarded

by Francesco Veronesi

VAUGHAN - An effort to kill the Italian language programmes in the Catholic schools of York Region has failed, for now. Board meetings of last spring and summer revealed deep divisions within the Board itself on a matter of profound importance to our community.

On one side of the issue, four Trustees – Dino Giuliani, Theresa McNicol, Maria Marchese and Domenic Mazzotta – did their utmost to save the Italian language studies programme from the proposed cuts. Offering instead that the Board examine alternative cost-cutting measures.

On the other side, a bloc of four other trustees, Cathy Ferlisi, Marlene Mogado, Teresa Ciaravella, Ann Stong allied with the Chair Carol Cotton and Vice Chair Elizabeth Crowe to sacrifice the International Languages Extended Day program for Budgetary reasons.

The rationale went something like this: the cost of the programme had become unsustainable, and without additional funding the program offered in 23 schools for 8500 children should be cut.

At tis point, a comfort letter by Centro Scuola committing to find up to $500,000 annually has removed the Board from an uncomfortable situation, given that the community was hardening its position against the cuts.

It is this context, that the actions of one trustee in particular, Cathy Ferlisi, merit scrutiny.

Starting in October of 2015, when the issue of cuts first came to the forefront, the trustee for Vaughan-Concord-Thornhill sided with those who favoured slashing the program. She told the Corriere at the time that she preferred that the money be spent on more Relgious Studies. Only the question of conflict by two trustees, who had to absent themselves as a consequence from the vote, allowed the programme to escape the knife.

In the intervening months that followed, Ferlisi was one the more zealous promoters of eliminating the programme, justifying herself this time with the need to balance the budget.

At the June 14 meeting of the Board earlier in the year, Trustees, following the lead of Cathy Ferlisi, voted down a conciliatory motion by Trustee Mazzotta to resolve the matter. Instead they approved two Motions presented by Ms. Ferlisi that imposed upon the community the obligation to provide guarantees for $1,000,000 – in addition to the funds currently made available by the Italian government through Centro Scuola – by December 2016 or the programme would die.

We have attempted to contact Ms. Ferlisi in an effort to understand the motivations behind this seemingly aggressive disposition against the Italian language, without ever receiving a response.

Then, on September 28, she decided to climb aboard the “victory float”. After the letter by Centro Scuola was received and accepted by the Board, she tweeted a letter (reprinted in our pages on September 30) expressing satisfaction at the outcome and declaring her continuing support for Italian language studies. This is the programme whose elimination she was assiduously pursuing for the better part of two years.

In any event, in twenty months Trustees will need to go to their electorate. The parents of those 8500 children and others will have an opportunity to approve or not the actions of trustees and the “coherency” of their positions during the mandate.

(Monday 3 October 2016)

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