• John Jantak

Liberal MNA Nichols supports school board reforms but opposes proposed abolition


Vaudreuil Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols said the Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs (CSTL) should have been invited to participate in upcoming hearings that will be held by the ruling provincial Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government with the aim of converting French-language school boards into service centres.

Vaudreuil Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols is calling on the provincial government to allow the Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs (CSTL) to be heard at upcoming hearings into Bill 40 which will replace existing French-language school boards and convert them into service centres.

The ruling Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government headed by Premier François Legault recently introduced Bill 40 with the intention of improving the educational process. While many school boards across the province have been invited to present briefs at the upcoming parliamentary hearings, the CSTL has been exempted, said Nichols.

Goal is educational success

“I spoke up loudly in the National Assembly so that the CSTL could be heard during the Bill 40 hearings. The school boards can certainly be improved and modernized and the as the official opposition, we’re ready to work on that. We must not lose sight that the goal of the hearings is to ensure educational success and to do this, our stakeholders must be heard,” Nichols stated in a press release.

Nichols said it’s necessary to do something to improve the school boards, not necessarily to abolish them or create a new structure, but to incorporate reforms which bring the boards into the realities of the 21st century.

Make existing boards more efficient

“We’re almost in 2020 so I think it’s time to modernize the school boards by adopting various reforms to make them more efficient. There are some good aspects to our current system and other things need to be reviewed but I don’t think the school boards have to be abolished,” Nichols told The Journal during a telephone interview on October 29.

The CSTL is an example for the rest of the province to emulate, said Nichols. “They function super-well. The current commissioner makes very good decisions to create programs such as in entrepreneurship and professional programs.”

First school board

The CSTL is also the first school board that was created in the province during the 1960s by Paul Gérin-Lajoie, a former Liberal cabinet minister at the time. As the second largest French-language school board in Quebec, Nichols said the CSTL should have a spot at the hearings.

“I also want to remind people that the CSTL created the first polyvalent high school in Quebec,” she said of the secondary schools that provide students with vocational training in addition to regular courses.

Practical approach required

“What I find deplorable is that the CAQ is embarking upon a major reform that will abolish the French school boards. They asked the CSTL to submit a brief to the upcoming hearings but there will be no one from the school board who will be present,” Nichols added.

The proposed reforms will also create a new system that will unnecessarily cost more money than it would if the CAQ government adopted a more practical approach by implementing specific changes rather than creating an entirely new system.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Nichols. “This should be more about doing the right thing for the wellbeing and welfare of our children.”

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