Quebec moves to eliminate school boards, offers compromise to anglo community

QUEBEC—The Quebec government tabled legislation Tuesday to abolish school boards across the province, transforming the 72 existing boards into so-called service centres.

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge says the boards will be abolished as of Feb. 29, 2020, and the estimated $ 45 million in savings over four years will be put back into the system.

Roberge tabled Bill 40 on the first anniversary of the election of the Coalition Avenir Quebec government, fulfilling a long-standing promise to abolish the school board system.

Under the bill, the service centres will be administered by an unpaid board of directors made up of parents, community representatives and school staff.

In the French-language school system, board members will be elected by parent and student representatives on school governing boards. But in the English-language system, board members will be elected by universal suffrage.

The English community has opposed the elimination of school boards, arguing that the minority community has the right to control its education system and a move to abolish them runs contrary to Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In introducing a two-tier system, the government sought to respect those rights.

The bill would also expand the education minister’s powers to set targets for the new service centres.

“School boards are a governance model from the past,” Roberge told a news conference, pointing to past examples of questionable spending by commissioners. “Rounds of golf and training sessions down south for commissioners are over.”

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TORONTO STAR

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