School board holds noon Zoom on Bill 64

Fort La Bosse School Division, Board of Trustees, hosted a Town Hall for the public last Monday

The proposed provincial plan to change how education is delivered and managed for all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, prompted Fort La Bosse Board of Trustees to present "The Facts on Bill 64". It was presented via Zoom during the noon hour on Monday, April 19.

A new funding model for Kindergarten to Grade 12 was an election promise that surfaced in September of 2019. Brian Pallister announced that if re-elected, the PCs would do away with the education portion of property taxes. What was not mentioned then was the fact that local autonomy would also disappear, replacing an elected board with an advisory council and the superintendent and treasurer with an appointed provincial authority.

article continues below

Board Chair Garry Draper presented major points to an audience of about 60 through PowerPoint slides; 250 people have since viewed the video:

While the details of educational changes remain unclear, and the spending to make it happen has not been lined out, Draper said the government wants to reduce the amount of administration. But he contended that local education is not run by a top-heavy bureaucracy. Administration costs for Fort La Bosse – division office staff including the superintendent, secretary treasurer, etc. plus the elected Board of Trustees - is 3.35% or just over 3 cents on every dollar spent in the division.

The presentation lays out the structure and responsibilities of school administration and of the elected school board.

Information addressed many issues including concerns that Manitoba students rank last among the provinces in academic outcomes. Draper said there’s not a lot of difference between first and last place and as Canadians, we rank sixth within world rankings of education.

According to the education review initiated in 2019 by Manitoba government, poverty is related to poor student learning and accounts for Manitoba’s lower score.

“In this new system of education, the government is doing nothing to address the two out of 10 students who are not meeting educational benchmarks.”

The board and division staff have met with two MLAs, For Riding Mountain, Greg Nesbitt and MLA Doyle Piwniuk for Turtle Mountain, and have presented their concerns. The Minister of Education and MLA for Spruce Woods Cliff Cullen was also invited but was unable to attend this meeting.

Meetings have yet to take place with local municipal governments. Draper says that as more information is available, the school board hopes to host another Town Hall.


© Virden Empire-Advance