A study unveiled Thursday urges the Quebec government to review its school board reform project, arguing the move will give centralized powers to Education Minister Jean-François Roberge.
The Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS) says Bill 40 excludes parents from the administration of school boards and will result in minimal savings of $13 million on an annual basis.
The study notes the salary of school commissioners and the entire electoral process represent only 0.1 per cent of the annual budget of school boards.
IRIS found the low voter turnout in school elections can be explained by the fact that most people don’t understand the role of school commissioners.
Commissioners do not have the power to modulate school taxes, and few residents know the issues they are debating, according to the study. School commissioners are also often perceived as administrators rather than political representatives of their community, the study found.
IRIS proposes simplifying the voting process in order to boost voter turnout in elections. This includes holding school and municipal elections at the same time or introducing electronic voting. The study also states there needs to be greater democratization of school governance and improved transparency of school boards.
The study criticizes the government for giving itself greater control over structures, communications and personnel management at school boards. It also specifies that the proposed changes are similar to the reforms that affected the health and social services network, saying the government is going beyond its commitment to transform school boards into service centres.