REGINA – The Educational Governance Review Report by Dan Perrins released in December raises concerns that are consistent with what school boards are hearing across the province about further forced amalgamations of school divisions and the elimination of democratically and locally elected trustees.
“We have heard clearly from our communities that local voice and locally elected representation is important in education,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. “We have heard that school divisions are big enough, especially for a province like ours that has such a large geographic area and unique local needs to consider.”
Community voice and locally elected boards contribute to a more democratic and transparent education system. Saskatchewan already has the fewest boards and fewest board members in western Canada (number of boards per province: BC 60, AB 63, MB 37 and SK 28).
“The report describes a shared view in the sector that the focus needs to stay on student outcomes and the work of the Education Strategic Sector Plan,” Davidson said, referring to the sector-wide plan introduced in 2014 with the support of all boards and the government, and which is beginning to see successes.
“Our member boards couldn’t agree more and are willing to work together towards collective results. Mr. Perrins identified many of the challenges education faces and we feel strongly that the focus should be on ideas to strengthen and improve governance and not on significant restructuring that doesn’t save money and is very disruptive for students and school communities,” Davidson added.
Davidson thanked Mr. Perrins for his work in preparing the report and listening to stakeholders. He also noted that school boards support – and, in many cases, are already working on – ideas from the report for optimizing and enhancing governance. Those include improving efficiency and consistency; preserving and strengthening the voice of communities; and, continuing to focus on student outcomes.
“We will continue this conversation and bring the voice of the communities represented by our province’s 28 diverse boards of education to both the online submission process and the panel appointed by Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Don Morgan to conduct this consultation,” Davidson said. “Education belongs to community, school boards matter and governance matters.”
For more than 100 years, the longest lasting and most fundamental responsibility of locally elected school boards in Saskatchewan has been to bring the voice of the public to publicly funded education so that all children in the province – regardless of where they live or their personal circumstances – have the resources and supports they need to achieve and succeed.
Community members and groups are encouraged to add their voices to this discussion and participate in the public consultation process being led by the Government of Saskatchewan. Details are available on the government’s website at: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/public-consultations/share-your-thoughts-on-the-k-12-education-governance-review.