New bill aims to reinstate trustee elections in Northland School Division, 7 years after board was dismissed

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Education Minister David Eggen will introduce new legislation in early April to reinstate trustee elections in the Northland School Division for the first time in more than seven years.

The board has operated under an official trustee since January 2010 when then-Education minister Dave Hancock dismissed the 23-member board.

Bill 6, the Northland School Division Act, will be introduced in the legislature when MLAs return after their constituency week break next week.

Eggen said the bill would allow trustee elections to take place during Alberta's municipal elections this October.

"There's a strong appetite to restore democracy in Northland School Division, so I'm pretty excited about it," he said.

Hancock dismissed the board over concerns about high staff turnover, low marks on provincial achievement exams and poor student attendance.

At the time, only 19.6 per cent of Northland students completed high school within three years of entering Grade 10. The provincial average was 70.7 per cent.

In October 2015, the division's official trustee Colin Kelly said two schools now had attendance at 90 per cent or better. Eleven schools were at 85 per cent, he said.

Most of the students in the northern Alberta school division are of First Nations and Métis heritage.

Eggen says the bill would allow for better consultation between trustees and the communities they represent.