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LPSD raises Alberta option

The public school system in Lloydminster could be looking to Alberta for governance in future.

The possibility of a governance shift from east to west was raised last night at a public forum held by the Lloydminster Public School Division (LPSD), which was aimed at gathering feedback from residents of the Border City about possible changes to the Saskatchewan education system.

The gym at Jack Kemp Community School was filled for the public forum held by the LPSD. Photo by James Wood/106.1 The Goat/Vista Radio

A report commissioned by the Saskatchewan government had proposed three changes to the administration of Saskatchewan’s education system.

The first option would be a province-wide schoolboard, with appointed trustees instead of locally elected boards. The second would be a regional model, with four different boards and four different school regions. The last option would be a restructuring of the existing divisions, or the realignment of school division boundaries.

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In a press conference on Friday, Todd Robinson, the director of education for the LPSD, and David Thompson, the chair of the LPSD schoolboard, indicated they would want to see the current boundaries and governance structure for the division stay in place.

While he repeated those same goals on Wednesday night, the option of joining Alberta was also raised for the first time. The switch would be pursued if there was no way to keep an elected schoolboard in the Border City, and is available as a choice due to the bi-provincial nature of Lloydminster.

“If the greater good was put at stake, we have to look at those other options and decide at that point in time whether that makes sense for Lloydminster,” said Robinson.

Robinson also said that the lack of a local public school board would be “discriminatory” for public school supporters in the Border City.

“If there was a governance model pursued in the city, that was preferential towards a separate system in the sense that there was a local board and a local governance model, and no presence in Lloydminster for public education, that that would be discriminatory for public school supporters,” said Robinson.

According to Robinson, there would be no impact to the provision of services in the school system if a switch was pursued.

“Right now, whether we’re governed by Alberta or Saskatchewan, we’re getting funding that’s decided by them based on their fiscal situations,” said Robinson.

“All we’re saying is that we would investigate being Alberta-governed versus Saskatchewan governed, which would still require Saskatchewan to pay their fair share of the freight.”

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Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke attended the forum, and said the concerns expressed by the division were valid.

“Any time that you move decision making farther away from the people it affects, I think it becomes less accountable,” said Starke.

“What we have here in Lloydminster is a very good situation, where we have two locally elected schoolboards, that intimately know the challenges of our city, being a border city.”

Starke said the worry was that if Saskatchewan switched to a central or regional board, the Lloydminster situation might not be as well understood. He also said he would be prepared to support the LPSD switching over to Alberta.

“If that’s what it would take, to maintain local control and authority, yes, and we would certainly do everything we can to assist that,” said Starke.

“I think the preferable solution is to have the existing situation maintained.”

Starke said he would be speaking with the government in Edmonton on the matter, as well as his Saskatchewan counterpart Colleen Young, once she’s returned from vacation.

Young is in Australia until the end of January.

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The LPSD will be presenting to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education today, along with the Lloydminster Catholic School Division, in order to find a solution to Lloydminster’s situation.

A decision on what will happen to the Saskatchewan education system is expected in February.

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