School boards must give more financial control to individual schools, says a visiting superintendent of schools from Edmonton.

by Nigel Armstrong

Angus McBeath was on P.E.I. this week to make a presentation to the P.E.I. Task Force on Student Achievement.

His presentation here was financed by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. It is an organization that advocates free market principles in many areas, including education.

The institute passed out literature during its presentation to the task force. In it, the institute writes about McBeath’s work in Edmonton.

The article quotes from a book written by a University of California management professor, who said that the Edmonton school system was “one of the most decentralized and effectively managed public school systems in North America.”

Edmonton is able to take 65 per cent of the money given to school boards and put it directly into classrooms, the highest percentage in North America, said the professor. Schools are totally responsible for how they will spend that money in Edmonton.

“I’d rather educators made decisions than central office bureaucrats who are good at numbers,” said McBeath. “Schools decide how many teachers, how many custodians, how many support staff, how many paraprofessionals, what kind of services, supplies and equipment to buy.”

The school board said that while schools could spend the money in whatever manner they wanted, the schools must be accountable and rated by way of achievement test scores.

“The results of how well children behave, the satisfaction of staff, students and parents in each school community, are all published publicly,” said McBeath.

“Every school in that city is now an education enterprise led by a strong principal with the power to implement change and the power to acquire the services and resources students need, when they need them,” writes the institute summary of McBeath’s work.