WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's 37 school divisions will be replaced with 15 regions overseen by a provincial oversight body under the province's proposed changes to kindergarten to grade twelve education.

The new model, outlined in a bill put before the legislature on Monday will remove elected school boards and the role of school trustees. 

A "Provincial Education Authority," made up of appointed members, will be established to deliver K-12 education and take over the bulk of administrative responsibilities, including collective bargaining, IT resources and workforce planning. 

The province says this will free up monetary resources that will be reinvested back into classrooms. 

None of the proposed changes will impact the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DFSM) which will maintain its current structure. 

Parents and primary caregivers will be able to represent individual schools through "School Community Councils" with elected members.  

Five Winnipeg city councillors who formerly worked as school trustees have criticized the proposed bill.

Councillors John Orlikow (River Heights- Fort Garry), Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre), Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), Ross Eadie (Mynarski), and Brian Mayes (St. Vital) released a joint statement denouncing the bill shortly after Education Minister Cliff Cullen started a news conference on the changes.

“Our school divisions are a reflection of local democracy at work,” the councillors stated. “The residents of Winnipeg are able to vote for trustees who represent their values and their priorities. The proposal to eliminate these local boards is not good for students, it’s not good for schools, and it’s not good for residents.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents school support staff such as educational assistants and custodians in multiple school divisions, have also spoken out against the bill, saying the decision to eliminate school divisions will result in less public oversight for parents.

“Manitoba is unique in that our diverse communities have direct input into their school system through their locally elected school boards,” said Lee McLeod, CUPE regional director, in a statement.. “This government wants to remove all of that local decision making and replace it with their own centralized, hand-picked appointees on Broadway. Toothless advisory boards will leave parents and families with no real voice in education.”

The education report can be read below.