The Red Deer Public School Board has voted in favour of lobbying the government for one publicly funded education system in the province.
It was a tight 4-3 vote Wednesday night, which came following a motion put forward by trustee Dianne Macaulay. In mid-April, Macaulay said she intended on asking the board for support in her push for one unified public school system in Alberta that would allow local school boards to offer Catholic and other faith-based programs.
However, the wording of the motion was amended to exclude the part about offering Catholic and other religious programs.
“At the end of the day, the motion read that Red Deer Public Board advocate for one publicly funded education system. Period,” Board chair Bev Manning explained on Thursday.
Manning voted against the motion, saying she felt the board was better off advocating for one system through the Public School Boards Association.
“To advocate for that locally would be a little bit difficult to then work with our partners in the community,” she said.
Manning suggested one of the reasons behind pushing for one education system is to save money. But that’s not the entire picture.
“I think that people feel, in general, that to offer two competing systems is no longer relevant. The Catholic system rose from a long history of Canadian heritage and that’s why it’s here. And we think that’s no longer a relevant way to deliver education in the province, that we can do a better job with one system that is inclusive of everybody,” she said.
“I think it benefits students when we all come together. We live together in our community, we work together in our community and I think one inclusive system would be beneficial for every student.”
Earlier this year, after the former Edmonton Public School Board chair floated a similar idea, Education Minister David Eggen said, “we have a Catholic School Board that’s doing a fine job of educating students right across the province so it seems a bit redundant.”
The Red Deer Public School Board, which oversees 25 public schools in the central Alberta community, has been in talks with other trustees in the province about pushing for one education system.
Manning said the board will now refer its motion to the board’s political advocacy committee, which will come up with a strategy on how to move forward.