The province is looking to "trim at the top," amalgamating 37 school divisions into one.
Releasing a much-anticipated report, the Department of Education is sharing the findings, including moving from dozens of separate school divisions to one: the Provincial Education Authority.
"It is no surprise to Manitobans that our system needed to change," Education Minister Cliff Cullen says in a press conference. "Our province spends some of its highest on education in Canada but sees out students achieve some of the lowest results."
They say the $40 million saved during the amalgamation will go into the classrooms and are looking to eliminate education property taxes, adding that there will be initial costs to the change.
Manitoba has some of the lowest results in math and literacy in the country.
"The time for excuses about still being mediocre are over," Cullen says.
The added funds are set to go directly to the "front lines" of schools.
Looking at the Our Children’s Success: MANITOBA’S FUTURE Report of the Commission on K to 12 Education, first set to be released one year ago, the province is planning to drastically reduce the amount of staff and elected officials in the school system. One governing body will be taking charge of all of Manitoba's schools, with the exception of French-language schools. Division Scolaire francomanitobaine (DSFM) will remain to highlight the education needs of francophones. In total, the report has 75 recommendations.
Changes will take place over the next five years. Cullen is hoping the infrastructure changes will be completed by July of 2022. He says they are bringing in experts to build a "roadmap" to help them make this change.
There will be no immediate change to teacher staffing or students' day-to-day. The province is not saying how many jobs will be lost, saying it is too early to know.
The province's 12 goals for unification are:
1. Strengthen curriculum implementation and classroom learning
2. Focus on higher achievement, engagement and pathways for the future for all students and close the achievement gap for Indigenous students.
3. Increase supports to teachers, staff and school leaders with improved professional learning, targeted recruitment and retention planning, and enhanced classroom supports.
4. Implement new provincial assessments (grades 3 or 4, 6 or 7, and 10), with school-level data, along with greater use of provincial report cards.
5. Engage parents and caregivers through local School Community Councils and a Provincial Advisory Council on Education, and students through a Student Advisory Council.
6. Unify 37 school boards into 15 regions within the new Provincial Education Authority and a separate Francophone division (DSFM).
7. Develop a new provincial funding model that is fair, transparent and sustainable.
8. Enhance mental health and well-being for students, teachers and school staff.
9. Ensure timely assessment, learning supports and clinical services for students with special learning needs and newcomer students.
10. Enhance access to and supports for STEAM (science technology, engineering, arts and math), workforce training and apprenticeship programs.
11. Prioritize French and French Immersion education through improved curricula and increased programming options.
12. Enhance access to high-quality remote learning including a provincial online high school and continued learning at home supports for kindergarten to Grade 8.
These goals all fall from the province's Better Education Starts Today (BEST) strategy, a mixture of the finding of a commissioned report on education in Kindergarten to Grade 12 and learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health and well-being in schools will include suicide prevention and addiction educations. The Department of Education will work with the Minister of Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery.
The amalgamation will not affect schools offering religious exercises, following the usual regulations.
Instead of the 30 trustees from school divisions, a representative from 15 each of the new community school councils will represent the region on a province-wide school board. These representatives can involve themselves in activities such as school construction, assessing the educational programming, and encouraging parent involvement. A parent engagement officer will be an intermediary between parents and the school.
Parents can take the online survey to give feedback.