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News that the province's review of the K-12 education system will include an examination of the future of Manitoba school divisions didn't come as a surprise to Craig Smiley, Chair of the Border Land School Division.

Manitoba Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen confirmed this week that the process will look at whether to merge school divisions or get rid of them entirely.

"I'm not surprised about that. He's kind of said that from day one that he was looking at school board structures and that everything was on the table," said Smiley.

In addition, Minister Goertzen said the review process will include extensive consultation across the province on a wide range of topics such as student learning and teaching.

Smiley said this is not something he is opposed to.

"We need to review ourselves and see what we're doing good and what we're not doing good in education as a whole. Things change over years, we can't get stagnant, we need to be progressive too."

However, Smiley hopes the province sticks to its commitment of keeping the consultation process open and accessible.

"We are hoping this is a two-way street where there is conversation between us and the government, giving ideas on where things can change. I hope it's not just a one-way street where they're deciding everything and we're getting no say in this," he explained.

The BLSD board of trustees plans to launch a public awareness campaign next month through the Manitoba School Board Association's Local Voices, Local Choices initiative. The goal is to generate discussion among ratepayers and municipalities about education and the benefits of having local school boards. Public consultations will also be happening in Vita and Altona.

"We welcome people to come to that and talk about education," said Smiley.

Related Article: Manitoba Trustees Look To Inform The Public Ahead Of Provincial Education Review

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