Janz withdraws proposal for potential plebiscite questions on curriculum, education funding

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Edmonton Public School Board trustee Michael Janz withdrew his motion Tuesday that could have seen Edmontonians vote on whether they support the province’s draft K-6 curriculum or the current funding model for school boards.

Speaking at Tuesday’s board meeting, Janz said there were still jurisdictional and administrative questions that needed to be answered about adding the potential plebiscite as part of this fall’s municipal election and there was not enough time left to get clear answers.

“Today’s meeting is the last meeting prior to summer recess, and the deadline to provide final referendum questions to the chief returning officer is early July. Rather than miring up in a complicated debate where we do not have clear answers, I would rather withdraw these questions and refer the referendum tool to the next board of trustees,” he said.

Board members were slated to debate two potential questions proposed by Janz. The first would have asked voters if they support the province’s draft curriculum, which has been the subject of repeated criticism from some education experts and which most boards in the province are refusing to pilot.

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The second would have asked whether voters support the government’s decision to move from a per-student funding model for boards to a rolling moving average model that takes into consideration enrolment over the last three years. Boards, particularly those in large urban settings, have said the new model does not provide them with adequate funding.

Prior to the meeting, Janz told Postmedia that there were still legal questions around whether boards had the authority to ask questions on the municipal ballot and how the question could be worded. There also wasn’t a final price tag for how much adding questions to the ballot would cost.

“It’s clear that there’s a lot of interest in these topics. I’ve received a number of positive responses about people wanting to vote on the curriculum and send a message, but I didn’t want this to get hung up on a technicality. Especially with the the deadline coming up in July,” he said.

— More to come

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