The Quebec government’s plan to abolish school boards is no more.

Education Minister Sebastien Proulx received a standing ovation at Friday’s annual meeting of Quebec’s English boards, which had fought hard against Bill 86, a law which they said would have destroyed a pillar of the community.

“Bill 86 did not respond to the right of the minority in Quebec, nor did it allow your school board to have the functions and controls to ensure student success,” said Proulx. “By putting all the power in the hands of the minister you take away the management of our schools.”

Proulx added that divisions created by the bill were a waste of time and energy and promised a revamped reform bill that would focus on student success.

Among Proulx’s suggestions for the new bill:

  • Make kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds.
  • Make school mandatory until the age of 18-years-old.
  • Review funding for students with learning disabilities.
  • Create a professional association for teachers.

Under Proulx’s proposed plan, school boards would have discretionary powers with their budgets and school board elections could be moved online, a move which would cut costs and hopefully boost voter turnout.

Parent groups welcomed Proulx’s announcement.

“Parents will actually be given a vote on the council of a schoolboard,” Parents for a Democratic EMSB spokesperson Andrew Ross. “That’s crucial. That’s something we don’t have right now. What we’re also hearing is that power will also be decentralized to governing boards, so that the people on the ground will also be able to make decisions.”

On Friday evening, Premier Philippe Couillard is expected to give a speech focusing on education to a gathering of Liberals in Drummondville.