First, reading this bill is much simpler if you open up a copy of the Ontario Education Act in another tab or window so you can flip back and forth and make sense of the various sections of the act this bill repeals and amends.
At first blush, Bill 177 moves to make the following changes to the act and by extension to the manner in which publicly funded schools and boards operate:
- Remove all references to "co-curricular" activities, the act's jargon for extra-curriculars such as sports, clubs, etc.
- Clean up a number of sections of the act implemented in 1996-97 relating to the creation of the 72 district public and Catholic boards on Jan. 1, 1998.
- Give the minister the power to set "achievement standards" that boards must meet. Boards have to develop plans to meet the standards set by the minister.
- Specify trustees' role -- oversight, governance and ensuring the board's plan to meet the minister's standards is met. The only employee they can direct to do anything is the board's director of education.
- Compels all boards to adopt a code of conduct as issued by the minister, which they can amend to include additional clauses. It also lays out the reprimands available if a trustee contravenes the code.
- Mandates every board to establish audit committees-- the composition of which is determined by the minister through regulation.
- Specify directors of education's roles as to the implementation, evaluation and accountability for the board's plan to meet the minister's standards.
- Allows boards to change the number of trustees-- they would apply to the minister, who would then approve the ability to add the extra seat(s) for the 2010 municipal elections (a similar process is used for municipalities who wish to change the size of council).
- Removes boards' abilities to issue debentures (this one will require further explanation).
- Makes a small tweak to the sections on boards sharing facilities.
Due to the current nannygate taking place in the legislature, I haven't seen any reporting on this bill (which looks a little too involved to have been slapped together in a hasty response to this situation as suggested by a commenter here).