School elect from the four school boards in the Estrie region have called for democracy in schools this week during a consultation in committee to Bill 86, which aims to reform school governance.
“We feel challenged by Bill 86 which proposes to change dramatically the rules,” argued the President of the Commission scolaire de la Région-de-Sherbrooke (CSRS), Gilles Normand, highlighting the dropout rate is now below 20% in Estrie bar.
The Vice-President of the Commission scolaire des Hauts-Cantons (CSHC), Patricia Sevigny, highlighted some positive aspects of the bill, as a decline in accountability that school boards demanded.
“What replace elected by universal suffrage would improve student achievement?” Has openly questioned Ms. Sévigny.
“One wonders about what seems to be a departure from the principle of democracy by abolishing the status of elected school commissioners while taking a school tax (…) The school boards do not recognize in the bill announced , for different reasons.”
For his part, the President of the School Board Summit (CSS), Jean-Philippe Bachand, commented that “the debates structures” do not help student achievement, citing among others Professor Aegis Royer.
Recalling the low turnout at the last school elections, which was around 5%, Jean-Philippe Bachand again pleaded for holding simultaneous school and municipal elections to promote voter participation. This is a demand expressed for years by the Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (FCSQ).
Bill 86 was tabled last December by former Education Minister Francois Blais. During the deposition, the presidents of the Estrie school boards had complained that the bill has a “brew structures,” but absolutely nothing for student success.
In particular replace the advice of commissioners by school boards. The new body will bring together parents, staff and community. It repeals the Act respecting school elections, but still retains the ability to hold elections to elect some members from the community.
“For us, the majority of school commissioners are also parents,” noted Mr. Bachand in committee.
The Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports (MELS) Sébastien Proulx notably asked how estriens representatives, not through legislation, parts of Estrie model that work could be located elsewhere. The president of the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB), Michael
Murray, stressed the need to avoid the “wall to wall” because school boards each have their peculiarities.