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MVSD begins lessons on Bill 64 content

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Mountain View School Division brought education outside of its school walls and into the community at large when it hosted a town hall meeting, recently.
The meeting was a means to inform the public about the content of the province’s recently released K to 12 education review and Bill 64 - The Education Modernization Act.
“We spent less time on the K to 12 review simply because of the legislation being legislation, so we focussed more on it,” MVSD board chair Floyd Martens said.
“Basically we went through what it contained, some of the question we have as a school division and what that means, what that looks like.”
Martens added the evening spawned several questions from the 60 to 70 participants, which the board did its best to answer.
“Unfortunately there is not a ton of answers on some things,” he said, adding the participants seemed to be fairly well informed about the situation.
“It seemed like people have been paying attention. Legislation is something which people don’t tend to read because of what it is, lots of legalese, so you just tend not to. And this one is, obviously, one that is even more complex because it is 300 pages of document that touches on a whole range of things and changes everything about the system.”
Martens added the presentation was more of an overview of the legislation and did not deal with too many specifics or situations for individuals and their circumstances as many of those answers are still unknown.
“We did what I think was a more high level look at the bill, this is what it looks like, this is what our current system is and this is the governance model that the province is proposing in the bill. These are some things we see not being provided and some information about what that means,” he said.
“It was good to have the first meeting, but there is more that has to happen to help inform the community about what is in the bill.”
With a large portion of the public having only a rudimentary understanding of how the system currently works, MVSD trustees will work on developing an action plan to bring the division’s communities up to speed.
“I think what came out from the questions is that we certainly need to engage our community more on the bill because it is so all encompassing, there is lots of parts to it. So how do we target that? How do we do that?” Martens said.
“The board will establish an ad hoc committee on how we do that and how we continue to have those conversations going forward. It is the next step in our process.”
The bill was delayed until the fall by the Opposition NDP to give people time to read and understand the legislation.
MVSD is encouraging people to speak to the bill when legislative hearings happen and, based on what he heard at the town hall, Martens is hopeful that will happen.
“There were some comments that were made so you would think there might be several that come from there,” Martens said.
“But because it is delayed to the fall, it always creates that feeling it is coming up, but it is not coming up tomorrow. So we will see.”
The town hall presentation is available for viewing on the website at mvsd.ca and Martens is hopeful more people will watch the recording to help inform themselves about the legislation.
“We may or may not have had large audiences there, but we have lots of people who tend to watch it later, once they hear about it or realize they can watch when they are free,” Martens said, adding the more people who engage in the process early, the easier it will be moving forward.
“There will be things that we will continue to talk about in regards to Bill 64. Different pieces that are shared and maybe when there are some answers provided.
“There is lots of work to do and we will see how it unfolds.”