The province is asking parents to fill a liaison role between schools and education administration, focusing on student education.
Along with the newly-announced amalgamation of school divisions, the province is proposing to do away with elected and paid trustees who previously represented areas in school divisions. Instead, the province is deligating most of those duties to other staff members, and asking parents to volunteer as part of their school's parent council to cover the rest.
"These members will be elected by the school community and council executives within the new 15 regions across Manitoba," Education Minister Cliff Cullen says. "This legislation will give parents more access and more benefits in terms of addressing their outcomes for their students at the local level than ever before."
This council differs from a typical Parent/Teacher Association as its primary focus will be education. The minister says they will be doing strategic planning and decision-making. These groups will be funded, but the minister does not know how much will be given.
"I am not belittling the parent councils, but my wife was involved in parent council for many years. Their largest project was a school swing set. They did not have as much input as these councils will have on the educational needs of children," Premier Brian Pallister says. "Parent councils will have a direct line of influence in that school."
Cullen says he is "looking forward to having a discussion in the short term with on that, in terms of what that the school community councils will look like."
Pointing to the proposed piece of legislation, Cullen says these roles will have a broad sense of what needs to be done.
"We look forward to having a discussion with parents about what that will look like exactly at the local level."
Parents can share their opinions on this by taking an online survey.
Each school will have a council, election one person from the newly-announced 15 regions across Manitoba to represent the region on a Provincial Advisory Council for Education. An elected trustee from DSFM will join that council.
This council will bring suggestions to the Education Minister. Two of the 16 elected people will be included in the Provincial Education Authority council.
"This new model will see up to $40 million redirected into our classrooms where students need it most."
Cullen says this move is "enhancing local voice" in schools. He says this is to give parents a larger say at the local school level, directly with the school's administers and principal, as well as the region's Director of Education.
Pallister says these councils will give parents "much more power" in their children's education.
"Parental involvement needs to be encouraged, in particular in single-parent families. It is an important issue and so with the school community councils they will draw, I think, more opportunities for parents to get involved in a meaningful way," the Premier says.
He is hoping parents will be encouraged by other parents, getting involved with the schools as well.
Principals will be responsible for starting the councils. There will be a teacher representative on each school's council.