The many problems of the new education bill


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This article was published 23/04/2021 (770 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Central to the changes being made by the current provincial government is Bill 64, which will eliminate school boards.

The bill will create 794 community school councils which, like mini school boards, will provide oversight of what is happening, including staffing, at each of the public schools in Manitoba.

At the same time, superintendents in school divisions will be replaced by 15 directors, with each responsible for schools within a region of Manitoba. The directors will be appointed by the government and will be responsible to a Provincial Education Authority.

File photo The effects of Bill 64 will be felt in Manitoba classrooms. One of the classrooms that has been downsized to accommodate 16 students at Andrew Mynarski V.C. School on Wednesday. Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Reporter:

The elimination of school boards appears to be based, in part, on a misunderstanding of their role.  

Proponents of the changes argue that up to 80 per cent of the work of school boards is related either to bargaining with teachers or to setting property taxes. Since these two functions would no longer be needed under the overall changes, it is argued that school boards are no longer necessary.

In my conversations with a number of school trustees from various school boards, I’ve found that only about five per cent of current school board activity relates to these functions. Much school board activity is directly related to adapting the provincial system to the local circumstances of the school division and to working to improve the quality of education provided. 

School boards throughout Manitoba have been remarkably innovative in their approaches.

In the 1990s, some rural school divisions developed video links between schools to share instructors and programming. In one innovative step, the then-White Horse Plains School Division developed audio and then video links between Hutterite colonies, which dramatically improved the ability to provide education in the higher grades and substantially improved Grade 12 graduation rates.

The Seine River School Division piloted a Roots of Empathy program which has been very successful in helping students develop understanding of others. It also developed Kids at Play, which is half-day kindergarten and half-day early childhood education and child care. It has succeeded in considerably improving school readiness and student performance in the division. 

The Seven Oaks School division established two Met Schools, which allow students to earn credits from community-based learning in which students gain experience and mentorship by spending time in with a non-profit organization or a for-profit business. It has been very successful.

 There are many similar initiatives being implemented around the province.

While the concept of the 794 community school councils, which are essentially parent councils, is being put forward to allow parents more direct involvement with the schools their children attend, these councils, unlike school boards, will have no powers to implement decisions.

A significant concern, based on experience with existing parent councils, is that it is likely these councils will be least able to get the participation needed from parents in low-income neighbourhoods — the very schools where children are likely to need the most help.

On March 31, I held a virtual town hall meeting to discuss Bill 64.

The video of this meeting can be viewed at:    

I have deep concerns that Bill 64 will take us in the wrong direction when it seeks to eliminate elected school boards, which have proved in Manitoba and in other provinces to contribute much to our education system and to the learning of our children and grandchildren.

 I welcome your input, which you can send to

Jon Gerrard

Jon Gerrard
River Heights constituency report

Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.

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