Division News

Division News

Government of Alberta introduces a new Northland School Division Act

Posted on April 4

Courtesy: Alberta Government

Courtesy: Alberta Government

Minister of Education David Eggen introduced a new Northland School Division Act (Bill 6: Northland School Division Act) in the Legislative Assembly today (April 4, 2017). Once the Act is proclaimed, it will lead to the reinstatement of an elected board in Northland School Division.

  • In order for the bill to become law, it must be voted in by Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)
    • The bill was introduced in the Legislature for debate, this is known as the First Reading.
    • The next stage will be the Second Reading, in which the Minister will outline why the Bill was introduced.
    • Members of all parties can speak and may suggest alternatives to the Bill.
    • If a Bill passes Second Reading, Members of the Assembly then meet as a Committee of the Whole to discuss it in more detail. This is where much of the debate takes place. Sometimes at this stage, amendments are made to the Bill. When debate is finished, the committee refers the Bill to the Assembly.
    • The Bill then moves on to Third Reading, where the Minister will summarize its benefits and the opposition parties’ state why they agree or disagree with the Bill and then a final vote is taken.
    • When a Bill has passed Third Reading, it must receive royal assent before it becomes a law. This is formal approval by the monarch’s representative, the Lieutenant Governor.

The new proposed Northland Act is based on information from many years of extensive review, reports, discussion and engagement with community members and staff.

Specifically, as proposed, the new Northland School Division Act will:

  • Introduce a governance structure with between seven and eleven wards, each with an elected trustee;
    • An opportunity will be provided for communities to provide input into how the wards should be structured – “to draw the map”.

  • Replace the existing Local School Board Committees (LSBCs) with school council type engagement and advisory bodies.
    • Although they will be guided by the School Act and School Council Regulation there is a flexibility which enable the Northland Board and each school community to tailor their advisory body to their community.
    • The advisory body could range from a “Circle” to a model that outlines an executive with seats for each key partner the community wants involved – First Nation; Métis; Municipal District; Health; Post-secondary, etc.
    • They would not be elected under the Provincial Elections Act.
      • If the choice was to have an executive, they would be elected at an organizational meeting each September at the school. These are generally done through nominations and secret ballots.
    • All positions are volunteer, except Elders may receive honorariums.
  • Explicitly state that individuals living on-reserve, where there is a Tuition or Education Services Agreement in place with Northland, are eligible to vote and run in school board elections.
    • This is currently outlined in a Ministerial Order.
  • Ensure that the Northland Board is subject to the same requirements as all other boards under the School Act;
  • Establish formal engagement process(s) that enable community voices to be heard through the involvement of Elders, youth, First Nations, Métis and all other communities to which the Division provides education services.
    • Required community engagement with all key partners in setting and maintaining the focus and direction of Northland.
    • Ward Councils where community voices will come together to hear from and share with each other and the Trustees.
  • The provision for the Board to enter into agreements under section 62 of the School Act, enables the development of Partnerships and/or Education Services Agreements, etc. which can provide First Nations with the ability to be very involved in the education of their children that attend Northland schools.
  • Local School Board Committees shall remain until June 30, 2017.

Click here to view Alberta Education media release. 

Click here for more information about Bill 6: Northland School Division Act

Click here to listen to the news conference