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Sask. government passes changes to Education Act

WATCH ABOVE: Despite the public outcry prompted by the government’s proposed changes to education, Bill 63 passed in the legislature today. Jules Knox reports on the latest changes and how it will affect students.

Protests and rallies held to halt Bill 63, which amends the Education Act, weren’t enough to stop changes from going through.

However, there were some alterations to the original proposal.

“We still have some grave concerns with Bill 63,” Shawn Davidson, Saskatchewan School Boards Association’s president, said. “We are happy that the minister and the government has amended Bill 63 as it was originally proposed, and what that amendment did, is preserve the roles and responsibilities of elected boards within the Education Act.”

It also clears up the language around the election of those trustees, Davidson said.

“Those two changes were very important to us as an organization, and those have taken place,” he said.

“We do still have some concerns with some overriding powers of the minister without seemingly a whole bunch of check and balances on that power,” Davidson said. “We’re concerned with some of the implications of changes to joint boards which may impact some of the great work that’s happened between partnerships in the province.”

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As a parent, Michelle Grodecki worries the bill strips away school division autonomy.

“The funding cuts that are coming, the school divisions have no say over anymore,” she said.

Grodecki also believes the bill creates uncertainty within the school system.

“This is the end of education as we know it. You walk into my child’s school and they don’t know what’s coming, you see parents who have no idea what this is going to mean for them, talking with school board trustees, they don’t know,” she said.

Saskatchewan School Boards Association considers the Education Act outdated and is calling for an entirely new act, developed based on collaboration, introduced next year.

“At this point, our goal right now should be working through budget issues, working at getting some regulations in place that are workable,” Education Minister Don Morgan said.

Morgan said the provincial government would be open to the idea of discussions about the Education Act next fall.