Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen has launched a review of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education system in Manitoba. He announced an eight-person commission will be co-chaired by Dr. Janice MacKinnon and by former Conservative cabinet minister Clayton Manness. One of the commission members is retired Steinbach teacher J.D. Lees. Goertzen says the process will include extensive consultation across the province on a wide range of topics such as student learning, teaching and whether to merge school divisions or get rid of them entirely.
"I look around at other provinces and I know there has been effort to have less school divisions. I think we have 290 school trustees involved with running our divisions and our schools. I need to be convinced that that's the right number. So it will be the mandate to look at potential consolidation of school divisions."
But Goertzen adds the review will not tackle the issue of education funding and whether to discontinue local taxation.
"The challenge is that you don't necessarily know how to pay for something unless you know what you are paying for. Key to that is: Do you have less school divisions? Do you have school divisions at all? The answers to those questions are important to determining how you pay for the system."
Dr. MacKinnon promises the process will be accessible to all to participate.
"The process will be open, it will be engaging and it will be accessible. I can tell you there are no pre-determined outcomes here. We are initiating this task with a blank slate. We are here to listen to what Manitobans have to say to us about their education system and what is important to them about that system."
She adds they will also draw on experts, research and best practices from other jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, Manness says the commission's focus will be on student outcomes, long-term sustainability and enhanced public confidence.The commission will provide its report to Goertzen by February of 2020.
The eight commissioners are:
Dr. Janice MacKinnon (co-chair);
Clayton Manness (co-chair);
Terry Brown;Mark Frison;
John Daniel (JD) Lees;
Laurel Repski; and