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    Province introduces proposal to amend School Act

    Alberta’s NDP government introduced a proposal Nov. 15 to modernize the School Act and improve success by Alberta students.
    “The School Act has served Alberta’s students well for almost three decades, and I am confident that – as a result of these amendments – it will continue to do so for many years,” said Alberta’s Minister of Education David Eggen.
    The proposed changes are intended to provide clearer more consistent rules in the education system.
    If passed in the Legislature, the School Amendment Act would create a new system of professional standards for principals and school superintendents. These standards are meant to better equip school leadership to run modern inclusive schools that set students up for success.
    “Modernizing the School Act will help school authorities to provide learning experiences for students that are rooted in basics and reflective of research-proven teaching strategies and advances in use of technology.
    “This will provide continued assurance for parents and communities about the strength of Alberta’s education system,” said Chris MacPhee, president of the College of Alberta School Superintendents.
    Other changes proposed by the government include a change to agreements with First Nations, changes to the age to start kindergarten, revisions to the process for establishing a separate school district, changes to transportation eligibility criteria, and other administrative changes.
    In an attempt to close the achievement gap for First Nations students, the Minister of Education will be authorized by the new legislation to establish standards for education service agreements between First Nations and other Alberta school boards.
    The School Amendment Act proposes that students must be five-years-old by Dec. 31 of the school year to be able to start kindergarten. This will help ensure students are ready to begin and succeed in school.
    To further help students and parents, the government will have to provide clear, updated transportation eligibility criteria to parents before the 2018-19 school year.
    The last significant change will see the process for establishing a separate school district revised to make the process clearer.

    The amendments have been proposed to both update the existing School act and bring it into alignment with other legislation and current best practices.
    If the School Amendment Act is passed in the legislature, most of the changes would come into effect immediately.
    The changes to kindergarten enrolment age would not be implemented until Sept. 2020 and changes to certification for principals and superintendents would not come into effect until 2019.