School board chairs blast education bill

Saskatchewan Rivers board chair Barry Hollick. Herald File Photo

Prince Albert’s school divisions are accusing the education minister of impinging on local autonomy, days after he tabled a bill to amend the Education Act.

The amendments, introduced Wednesday in the Legislative Assembly, would repeal a substantial portion of the Education Act’s provisions and shift them to regulations – which can be changed without legislative approval. They also broaden the authority of the minister to “direct” the affairs of school divisions.

“We heard strong support for maintaining elected trustees and we listened,” Minister Don Morgan said in a press release. “We also heard a clear need to ensure school divisions are being as efficient and effective as possible with the resources that are available.”

The ministry says the measures are needed to facilitate bulk purchases and shared bussing services, and to provide increased oversight over standards and financial decisions. They also seek to impose a uniform salary grid for trustees and administrators.

According to Barry Hollick, board chair of the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, the bill “doesn’t leave boards the autonomy they once had.”

“There’s part of the (bill) that says he can step in and do things he wasn’t empowered to do before,” he said. “The minister can actually step in and impose his will on a board, and, I mean, boards have been elected.”

For more on this story, including reaction from PA Catholic board chair George Bolduc, see the April 8-10 weekend edition of the Daily Herald.