President’s Message – What’s To Come In 2023

Dr. George Tsoukas’ Speech at the Board of Directors Meeting (Tuesday, January 17th 2023):
“Firstly, I would like to extend a special welcome to our new members, Evdokia Nicolaou, George Rigas, Konstantinos Nasioulis, Laurie Kezas and Antonia Macris. Your volunteerism is highly commendable and on behalf of the HCGM and the entire community we represent, I would like to express our gratitude for your participation.

As I have previously mentioned, the mandate we received in June of 2022 was one of change. Change is a noble goal, but it requires hard work and perseverance. You will see this reflected in the various reports that will be presented today. However, hard work and perseverance also connote resistance. We may ask ourselves, should we pursue this course of action? Is this the right decision? Things were good before, why change them? These are some of the questions we have faced and continue to face. At times, people may be overwhelmed by change and may react in ways that, in hindsight, may not have been appropriate.

It is important to remember our purpose as members of the HCGM. Our mandate originates from the community we represent, and they have requested change. The presence of our new members among us today, I believe, reflects some people's short-sightedness. There may be arguments regarding the appropriateness of past actions or lack thereof, or the level of experience of certain individuals. However, in all such discussions, it is incumbent upon all of us to work together to solve issues and always keep in mind that the community has entrusted us with the responsibility to work together and resolve the issues plaguing our schools, social services, and churches. Our goal is not to resolve our differences, but to put them aside and work together for the benefit of our community.

The theme of our mandate is change, with the goal of transforming our schools, social services, and the way we deliver services to our community, so that they reflect the 21st century reality.

Elections for the Montreal Regional Committee:
It is my pleasure to inform you that the Election Committee has been duly elected, has convened, and has successfully fulfilled all of the mandates set forth by the General Assembly. At this time, we have a total of ten candidates who have put forth their nomination for the upcoming election. As we speak, the candidates are currently in the midst of a meeting to discuss the election process. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional caliber of all the candidates, and I extend my best wishes for their success.

New Positions:
I would also like to inform you that as of tomorrow, we will be posting a temporary position entitled Assistant General Director of Education for SOCDEM. The purpose of this position is twofold. Firstly, Chris Adamopolous’ term as General Director of Education for SOC/DEM will be ending on June 30, 2023. Although he will be staying within our community to work on special projects, these projects require his full attention. Secondly, the special project that Chris will be working on is the development of a new facility in Laval. This project, which has been discussed for over a decade, is now a priority for this Administration, and I have requested that the focus for the entire HCGM be on bringing this project to fruition.

Given the expected workload that Chris faces and the need to facilitate the transition to a new General Director of Education, we have created this role for an individual to take on responsibilities for running the day-to-day operations of the school. Our goal is to post and interview for the position of General Director of Education starting in May, with the aim of having a new General Director of Education in place by the summer of 2023.

During the holiday period, a meeting was held with Mike Pantazis, Kirk Polymenakos, Denis Kotsoros and Georgia Tsakalis to evaluate the potential benefits and drawbacks of implementing the role of a Human Resources Manager/Director within our organization. Our current structure necessitates the engagement of legal firms to handle and act on our behalf with regards to the management of 200 employees across three collective agreements, involving two unions within the school system and one union for support staff.

Furthermore, we are currently lagging on a salary equity review dating back to 2014 and are in the process of developing a strategic plan for the HCGM for the future, which requires a comprehensive review of all positions and associated documentation. These tasks are not only recurrent responsibilities but also long-term strategic objectives that require the expertise of professionals to manage and oversee. A detailed plan will be presented to the Executive to establish this position.

Change in how we communicate:
The Administration is implementing changes to the way communication is conducted with our constituents. As members of the Board of Directors, it is our responsibility to actively engage and be present within the communities we represent. To achieve this, we plan to utilize several channels of communication.

Firstly, the Board of Directors will relocate monthly meetings from the Mikri Vouli and into the community. The first meeting will be held in Laval in February, followed by a meeting on the South Shore in March. While final details are still being determined, we will ensure that all necessary information is disseminated to all parties involved. It is our intention for this practice of relocating meetings to Montreal, Laval and the South Shore to become a permanent and regular occurrence.

Secondly, we are developing a series of outreach programs based on the World Café Model. We have enlisted the assistance of community members to assist in creating a plan of action, with the goal of regularly engaging the community through discussion, questions, and answers to better understand their needs. Our first event will be held in Laval, followed by the South Shore and Montreal.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the presence of the representatives for the five Parents Committees:
For Socrates 2: TBD
For Socrates 3: Jason Scoufaras
For Socrates 4: Stella Alifierakis
For Socrates 5: Denise Eleftheratos
For Demonsthenes: Stamatios Tsoybariotis

We will be asking them to report to the Board of Directors on a regular basis so we have a clearer understanding of the issues, from a parents’ perspective.

Change in how we see our finances:
As a result of the efforts made towards the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, the organization has accumulated surplus funds that require attention. In order to effectively utilize these funds, the Executive has established a small committee to investigate potential investment opportunities that will generate revenue for the community. The committee will subsequently develop recommendations for the establishment of a permanent structure within the organization to maximize the use of these funds and promote economic growth.

Furthermore, the budget and financial statements were distributed to the committee via the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Upon review, it was identified that the presentation of the budget was inconsistent and caused confusion among members. The committee has decided to continue their review of the budget, with the goal of presenting a clear and transparent presentation in the late spring. They will be meeting on Thursday to discuss any necessary changes and will provide recommendations at the next meeting of the organization. I can now report that the Budget Committee will be reviewing the data on Thursday with final recommendations to be presented at our next Board of Directors meeting and then, upon Board Approval, to be presented to a General Assembly.

In reference to the implementation of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, we have completed the financial requirements and successfully integrated budget comparatives. During our previous executive meeting, we were presented with an overview of the work that has been done and the potential data that can be obtained. With all systems now functioning, we will present the financials to the Board at regular intervals which will including actuals Year-to-Date and Budget percentages as comparatives. As previously stated, we are on track to consistently report by Late Spring 2023. Additionally, with the support of the Budget Committee, we aim to present the data in a more concise and transparent manner through necessary adjustments.

Changes in how we teach:
I would like to announce that by the end of the month the SMART TV program will be complete, and all 66 classrooms will have operating SMART TVs. It took us longer than what we expected due to the going issues with supply chains and the labour shortage. But because of volunteers such as George Kannelakis who worked with the Real Estate Department, we were able to overcome the obstacles. For this I give George a thank you for his efforts.

In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that change is never easy to accept or implement. However, the current successes that have been achieved can be attributed to the efforts of the Administration, specifically members such as Eleni Kateris, Dr. Vicky Baffis, Drs. Michael and Oresti Tsoukas, Nick Fudas, and John Vathis, among others. Additionally, the unwavering dedication and professional approach of the Operations Team of the HCGM have been instrumental in the successful implementation of these changes. On behalf of all of us, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to them for their hard work and contributions.”