Elected school boards shot down by P.E.I. government

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Elected school boards shot down by P.E.I. government

P.E.I.'s Liberal government is not interested in moving towards an elected school board model.

The Liberal caucus stood as one to vote down a motion from the Progressive Conservatives for government to stand by a campaign promise to bring back the elections. Education Critic Steven Myers brought the motion to the floor. 

"At the public meetings for the school review process, we heard it over and over and over again that people wanted to have elected boards," said Myers.

One of the main reasons the Liberals bring forward for not having elections — that there wasn't enough engagement in the past in school board elections — just doesn't cut it anymore," he said.

"It's the exact argument they used to throw away the results to the plebiscite on electoral reform in the fall," he said.

"Have a vote. We haven't had one since 2007. Let's have an election for school boards and find out. It's not up to them to decide because there was low voter turnout at one time that we're going to handpick people … the way they have it set up is completely unacceptable, and  it's not fair representation for all Islanders."

He accused the Liberal government for being scared of hearing from the public.

No plans to go back 

But Education Minister, Doug Currie said the situation is exactly the opposite, as proven by the lengthy public consultation process on the school review.

"What we've supported over the last couple of months is a very comprehensive, unprecedented level of conversation from Islanders," said Currie.

Currie said of the thousands of comments the department heard during the process, elected school boards did not come out on top of the priorities.  His department is committed to letting the new model of school governance — of the learning partners advisory council, the district advisory councils and the principals council — mature. 

"Right now there's no appetite or interest to go back to the elected model, I think we've got something pretty unique and pretty special here," Currie said 

"It's a more direct linkage to the department and conversations on the ground in schools, and most importantly the conversation is about learning and children."

All of the PCs in the house voted in favour of the motion, as did Green Party Leader, Peter Bevan-Baker.

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