Concerned citizens call for Regina Public Schools to bring back annual meeting
A group of concerned citizens say they’re fighting for democracy; by taking on Regina Public Schools.
Repeals to the Education Act in 2017 ensured school boards are no longer required to hold an annual electors meeting. Now the group is concerned they won’t have an outlet for change.
“It was an opportunity for democratic action on the part of citizens, and now it’s simply gone,” lamented Florence Stratton.
Although she doesn’t have school age children, Stratton says she is a frequent attendee of the annual meetings.
When Regina Public Schools held a “public education forum” at the end of January, in lieu of an annual electors meeting. Stratton was there protesting.
“They’re not democracy in action,” she explained. “You need everybody in the same room, debating issues with direct questions to your elected representatives, and that happened once a year.”
Despite the concerns that have been raised, Regina Public Schools doesn’t believe the changes will have a negative effect. In fact, they believe the opposite is happening.
“At this meeting we had a more fulsome discussion with [the] 55 people, than we’ve had ever at the 10 annual meetings that I’ve been at,” Terry Lazarou, the Regina Public Schools’ communications supervisor, continued. “There weren’t the formalities of motions, and chairs, but there was a very honest discussion amongst the people that were there [with] the board, and the administration.”
But Stratton says removing the formal process of the meeting means removing accountability.
“Small group discussion are not an opportunity to make motions, to freely in a public form to question trustees, and raise issues of concerns to citizens.”
In contrast to the public board, the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) chose to continue their annual electors meetings rather than re-imagining the process. They said the past success and transparency of the annual electors meetings drove the decision.
“It was about providing an opportunity for voters to come in and share what they think about what’s going on and give us their feedback.” Twylla West, communications coordinator for the RCSD said.
According to a clause in the Education Act the board must meet if 25 or more electors request it.
Stratton has collected enough signatures to force a one-time special meeting; there, they plan to present a motion to bring back the annual electors meetings.
The details of the meeting have not been determined. They will be discussed at the Regina Public Schools’ next monthly board meeting.
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