The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) continues to raise concerns of changes the province is making to the Education Act.
It is a law that will significantly increase the powers the minister — currently Don Morgan — has when it comes to directing school boards how to spend money.
The law reached its final stages on Thursday and is now awaiting royal assent.
SSBA president Shawn Davidson says Morgan will have “sweeping powers” as a result of the changes and there aren’t “a lot of checks and balances in this bill for those powers.”
Morgan insists he won’t be “punitive” with those directions, but use them to ensure school boards are efficiently buying in bulk, sharing bussing routes with one another, using a pay grid for out-of-scope staff and meeting the targets laid out in the province’s sector plan.
Directives are an effort, according to Morgan’s comments in committee, to “want to make sure that people are making good decisions” and would “obviously be done in consultation” with the education sector.
He also said a directive could be used to ensure a school puts in place a gay-straight alliance (GSA), but NDP education critic Carla Beck said raising that was an effort to “distract” and “divide” school boards.
Davidson said Morgan raising the issue of GSAs was “very interesting” because no schools have had any problems ensuring a GSA is put in place.
And while he is taking Morgan at his word that he won’t be punitive with his directive powers, Davidson is not as confident a future education minister wouldn’t use that authority for other purposes.
On Thursday, Morgan said the GSA example is one where “there would be no flexibility” but that generally his goal is “not … to tell (school boards) much of anything.”