Don't replace school trustees with Sask. Party appointees, NDP says
Education Minister Don Morgan says no decisions made yet on amalgamating boards
The NDP is raising concerns that some newly elected school board trustees might get turfed out of their positions thanks to government cost-cutting.
School divisions held trustee elections on Wednesday and they are four-year positions.
However, the Saskatchewan government is projecting a $434-million deficit this year, and in order to balance the budget is looking at what it calls "transformational change" — which could include amalgamating some of the 28 school divisions.
At the Saskatchewan Legislature Wednesday, Opposition MLA Carla Beck was asking Education Minister Don Morgan about his plans, and where school board trustees fit into that picture.
"When the minister announced his plans for transformational change, he wouldn't rule out scrapping elected trustees and replacing them with Sask. Party government appointees," said Beck, herself a former school board trustee.
Beck said it's important to defend the autonomy and democratic nature of school boards.
She said if Saskatchewan's 28 school divisions are amalgamated only as a cost-cutting move, education might suffer.
The danger is that trustees will be distracted from the things that matter — including math scores, boosting literacy rates and improving First Nations and Métis graduation rates, Beck said.
Morgan, who is also a former school board trustee, insists the Saskatchewan Party government is only gathering ideas at this point and doesn't have a set agenda to merge boards or replace elected members with appointed members.
"We've made no commitments or no decisions on anything yet," he said.
Asked by a reporter if the government might have some recommendations ready by early in 2017, he said that's a possible timeframe.
He said he can sympathize with school board trustees who ran for office, but now have some uncertainty hanging over them.
Morgan also said as the process moves forward, he can count on trustees to act selflessly when it comes to improving education and helping students.