NB to remove decision-making power from anglophone district education councils – New Brunswick

NB to remove decision-making power from anglophone district education councils – New Brunswick

An overhaul of New Brunswick’s governance structure for the education system will see the power of the anglophone district education councils diminish, while those in francophone districts remain the same.

DECs in the four anglophone school systems will no longer set their own budgets and superintendents will report directly to the department of education. Members of the DECs will still be democratically elected, but the councils will now serve in an advisory capacity.

Education minister Bill Hogan said the changes are to ensure that policies are applied consistently across the province, pointing to inclusion as an area that sees differences in implementation from district to district.

“Inclusion, for some strange reason, … has been and continues to be applied differently across our province,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s the superintendent’s fault, but somewhere the wires are crossed and this is an effort to ensure that we have consistency in everything we want to do for our children across the province.”

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The province’s three francophone DECs will retain their decision-making powers. That’s due to Charter rulings which say minority linguistic communities must be able to self-govern their education system. Hogan said the province had “no choice” but to leave the DECs in francophone districts as is.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick looking at how to improve the Anglophone school system'

New Brunswick looking at how to improve the Anglophone school system

As part of the changes, student representatives will also get a place on the DECs. Parent school support committees (PSSC) will also be strengthened at the local level, with additional training and power to approve “goals and objectives for school improvement plans.”

A new provincial parent advisory body, the Provincial Advisory Committee on Accountability and Alignment, will be created to directly advise the minister. Members will be appointed by the minister through a nomination process from the PSSCs.

The changes are being criticized by opposition parties, with Liberal leader Susan Holt saying the new system in education, along with the decision to eliminate elected positions on regional health authority boards, further distance communities from the decision-making process.

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“What we need to see is not a centralization of decision making and power but a decentralization of returning to true community voices,” she said.

“This continues to undermine what is already a very weak democracy.”

Green leader David Coon said it makes no sense to maintain the structure for one school system but eliminate it in the other.

“We’re talking about about democratic governance, engaging local decision making in our school system and you can’t have that in place only on one side of the school system,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable.”

The changes were introduced in the legislature on Tuesday and are expected to take effect July 1.

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