Calgary Board of Education defends pricey retirement dinners

The Calgary Board of Education is defending its original decision not to reveal retirement dinner costs.

Roughly $4,800 spent on dinners for retiree

There is more controversy surrounding the Calgary Board of Education and the way its senior executives are spending taxpayers money. 2:05

The Calgary Board of Education is defending its original decision not to reveal retirement dinner costs.

The board admitted it spent more than $3,300 of taxpayers' money when 100 senior executives attended a dinner last spring at the Earl Grey Golf Club.

It turns out it was the second dinner held for the retiree, as the first was at a restaurant in Bridgeland. The final bill for that event was nearly $1,500 for 16 people, including district superintendents and their spouses.

"We have to make sure the CBE is spending our money properly," said Rick Lundy, a school trustee candidate in wards 3 and 4. 

He says the timing of the dinners is offensive because they were held after the board learned of provincial funding cuts to education.

"It isn't a large amount, but how many of these are they doing?" Lundy asked.

"What else are they doing?... It does add up and when you have education in the shape that it's in, when you have classrooms ballooning where they are, that's where we want the money going."

The public school board says it did not release the expenses at first because the event was categorized as an employee recognition and acknowledgement event. The CBE says it falls under the category of corporate events, and therefore disclosure was not required.

CBE eventually did release the expenses because it said the public and media were interested.

Derek Fildebrandt, the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says this latest case raises serious questions. 

"This is one thing they've been caught on," he said. "When you pull one thread out of a government, there's probably many, many more."

The board released a statement saying it will review how the retirement of "long-term senior employees" will be recognized.


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