School boards: What will we do with them now?

Now that school board elections are over, with absolutely atrocious voter turnout, the inevitable we-have-to-do-something leadership-by-hindsight begins.

Some of the options being considered:

Abolish school boards entirely: This is the ADQ’s solution to the problem, and the excuse for reason why they want to force a real election. Administration of schools would fall to municipalities, the provincial government, and the schools themselves, removing a layer of bureaucracy. Unfortunately, as municipal mergers should have shown us, it’s not that easy. The bureaucracy created by the change might be as large or even larger than the bureaucracy it’s replacing.

Give school boards more power: For those (like me) who complain there aren’t any issues to be decided here (things like school taxes and curricula are set by the Quebec government), this might make elections more interesting. But it would also make the boards inconsistent, and that could lead to problems down the road.

Tie school board elections to municipal elections: I can’t see how this isn’t a good idea. Let’s reduce the amount of times we need to go out, update a voters’ list and wait in line to cast our ballots.

Here’s one I’d like to suggest adding to the list: Have school board commissioners appointed by municipalities instead of elected by the populace directly. This may sound anti-democratic at first, but the system it’s replacing isn’t perfect either. This solution would keep the bureaucracy as is, but the decisions about how local schools would be run would be left in part to the municipal governments they’re in. (Municipal politics aren’t high on voter turnout either, but it’s better than school board elections — and most people can name their mayor at least.)

Just a thought.

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