New education minister appointment welcomed by P.A. officials

By Glenn Hicks
February 3, 2018 - 10:25am

A local school administrator and chair are welcoming the appointment of Gord Wyant as the new Minister of Education.

Wyant was appointed to the new and first cabinet of incoming Premier Scott Moe. He replaces previous education minister Bronwyn Eyre.

“Mr. Wyant, I think, is a great choice,” Director of Education at the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division Robert Bratvold told paNOW. "I’ve heard some positive things about his skills and perspective on education.”

While Bratvold said he welcomed Wyant as the new minister, his other portfolio likewise struck a positive chord.

“I think it’s also significant he’s deputy premier. Optically, that sends a message when you have your deputy premier also minister of education; that sends a message about priorities,” he said.

Bratvold figures there “was a good possibility” of getting some of the controversial policies and regulations around school boards rolled back. 

Last year the government introduced changes that included a cooling off period before former school division employees could run for trustee roles, as well as changes that allowed the province to intervene in school board decisions. That raised the ire of school boards and the opposition NDP.

Sask. Rivers school board chair Barry Hollick made note of Wyant’s background in the educational sector.

“To have a minister who was a former school board chair in Saskatoon, I think, will give him good experience … and we think he’ll bring a ready understanding of what we face as school divisions in the province."

Hollick echoed other trustees and chairs in saying the government’s move to impose the controversial cooling off period was “heavy-handed and without consultation”, but he was confident progress was being made in discussions between the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA) and government on that issue and others.

A meeting of school board chairs was already scheduled for next Thursday in Regina and Hollick said the hope was they’d be meeting the new premier then.

“We are eagerly awaiting the results of the SSBA discussions and we think it will all be better for education than it was last fall.”

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation also welcomed the appointment of Wyant and the swearing in of new Premier Moe.

In a statement, president Patrick Maze said, in part, “I’m pleased to note the two people who made the clearest and most direct promises on improving funding for public education [in the leadership campaign] were sworn in.”

During his charge for the leadership title, Moe promised to invest $30 million into educational assistants and Wyant has promised to reverse funding cuts.

 

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