REGINA – Thousands of Saskatchewan residents have provided the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) with responses that will inform the organization’s submission to the panel that is currently reviewing the governance of education in the province.
The SSBA encouraged Saskatchewan people to “add their voice” to the discussions happening about the future of the education sector based on the Government of Saskatchewan’s “transformational change” agenda. The SSBA’s two-point position – that school boards should remain locally elected and decisions should be made close to the communities they affect – was embraced and supported by many of the thousands of residents who liked, shared, commented and otherwise engaged with the campaign.
“Communities care deeply about the education system in our province and that was evident to us in the responses we received,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA. “The valuable insights we gathered echoed what school board trustees hear every day in their work serving the residents they are elected to represent.”
In addition to the feedback received from social media, meetings, letters, emails, etc., more than 1,300 people clicked through from social media and other forums to complete a brief online survey seeking endorsement of the SSBA’s position. About 93 per cent agreed that boards should remain locally elected and about 93 per cent agreed that decision-making about education should remain near to the communities affected. Almost 650 survey respondents also provided specific comments about their views. Highlights from these comments are included in the backgrounder distributed with this media release.
“School boards are committed to continuing to improve education in the interests of all students and we think ‘transformational change’ is best achieved through the success we are seeing with the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) and other initiatives – and not by eliminating local, democratic decision-making,” said Davidson. “We were buoyed to find broad support for this position among our constituents and will be taking forward their views.”
The SSBA will provide an official submission to the panel appointed by Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Don Morgan to review options for education governance. Those options were summarized in December in a report by governance expert Dan Perrins, who included cautions about the potential consequences of amalgamating school divisions and appointing boards instead of electing them. Other independent experts have also raised concerns.
“The longest-lasting and most-fundamental responsibility of school boards over the past 100 years has been to bring the voice of the public to public education,” said Davidson. “The decisions being made now about school board governance could drastically change the historical roles in our system and the future of education.”
Members of the public are encouraged to continue adding their voice to this critically important discussion by writing to their MLAs and participating themselves in the panel’s consultation process before the Jan. 23 deadline. To do so, please visit the following website: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/public-consultations/share-your-thoughts-on-the-k-12-education-governance-review.
Backgrounder: SSBA “Add Your Voice!” Survey – Highlighted Comments