Potential amalgamation of school districts and appointment of trustees concern SDML board

To the Editor:

The School District of Mystery Lake (SDML) is asking the community to support the Local Choices, Local Voices campaign. The provincial government recently launched a review of kindergarten to Grade 12 education in Manitoba. Our district supports much of what the review intends to accomplish including exploring educational standards, reviewing student learning expectations, and examining the relevance of current curriculum. However, there are two matters that we understand the province is also considering that are of particular concern to our district. The first is a large-scale amalgamation of the current elected school boards in the province. The second is a possible move towards school board trustees being appointed by the provincial government, instead of elected by local taxpayers. The school district believes that either one of these actions will decrease the ability of our community to shape our local schools. A province-wide cookie-cutter approach to education would not serve our community with its unique demographic, geographic, cultural and social needs.  

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Amalgamating districts does not save money.(Frontier Centre for Public Policy; June 2005 https://fcpp.org/2005/06/25/why-did-we-amalgamate-school-divisions/)This is especially true in northern and rural Manitoba where the distance between communities is significant. There are already excellent examples of shared services in place that provide the same efficiencies that amalgamation supposedly would, without losing the local input into the operation of the school district. For example, services like MERLIN and Public Schools Finance provide support to all school districts and offer tremendous savings over what districts could do on their own.

A basic principle of public education is that it will overcome disadvantage. Attempts to overcome disadvantage come with additional costs, and won’t always succeed. However, local educators and staff are in the best position to understand what programming and services work, and what should be improved.  

We know that the citizens of Thompson take an active interest in their School District, as evidenced by the number of candidates for trustee positions in recent elections. We encourage you to voice your questions, concerns and support in this issue by attending a public meeting being held by Manitoba's Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education at 7 p.m. on April 25 at Westwood School. 

To get more information and a letter template to send your concerns about amalgamation to a provincial government official, please log onto the Manitoba School Board Association's Local Voices, Local Choices site at http://www.mbschoolboards.ca/localVoices.php.

School District of Mystery Lake Board

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