Report lays out 3 options for K-12 reform in Sask.
Fewer boards, different methods to select trustees among suggestions
A report commissioned by the Saskatchewan government to review how it might restructure its K-12 education system has delivered strikingly different options.
The last thing we want to do is make changes in governance or administration that disrupts what's taking place in the classroom.- Education Minister Don Morgan
Dan Perrins, a longtime civil servant, looked at best practices and variations across Canadian jurisdictions, but according to him, there was no clear preferred method of governance or administration.
Still, he came up with three options that involve fewer boards and different methods to select trustees.
- A provincial model would consolidate the 18 existing public boards of education into a single provincial public school board to manage the 606 public schools in Saskatchewan. This option also includes an advisory board made up of members of the public, Catholic and Francophone systems, and First Nations, Métis and northern representatives.
- A regional model would establish four regional public boards of education accountable to the minister of education. This option also includes an advisory body to the minister.
- The division model includes restructuring public school divisions to create eight to 14 new divisions, based on number of students served as well as geographic area. Also, it includes realigning boundaries of the existing divisions, considering things like traffic patterns, and local community needs and interests.
"This process is not about trustees; it's about students, about teachers and about best practices," said Education Minister Don Morgan. "We need to look at options that will focus as many resources on our students and to the classroom as possible."
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Saskatchewan has 28 school divisions. Each is governed by an elected board of education.
The student population is about 176,000 and the province employs about 11,700 teachers.
"We have a large system," said Morgan. "The last thing we want to do is make changes in governance or administration that disrupts what's taking place in the classroom."
Morgan has appointed a six-person panel to consult with key education stakeholders on the options described in Perrins' report.
Throughout the month of January the panel will engage in face-to-face meetings in a number of locations in the province.
The panel will also be informed by the online public submissions. The panel will present their findings to the minister in February.
Morgan said cabinet will make the final decision on the matter.
The opposition NDP is skeptical of the process.
"I continue to be concerned that the Minister of Education is using this process as a way to fast-track the plans he already has, without engaging in proper consultations," said education critic Carla Beck in a statement.
"We in the Official Opposition also remain concerned that the Sask. Party said nothing about restructuring school boards during the election. It was only after that they started with their deep cuts, clawbacks, and talks of their transformational change."
The education minister said it's a possibility the status quo could be retained.
"We have a budget that exceeds $2 billion, so we need to look everywhere we can for savings efficiencies and the most effective way we can to deliver service," said Morgan.