Legal basis passed to overhaul school councils

Ljubljana – The National Assembly has passed a controversial coalition-sponsored bill under which the number of staff represented on school councils will be reduced to level with those of parents and municipality or state as the school’s founder.

Under the bill, which was passed in a narrow vote by 46 in favour and 42 against, school and kindergarten councils will have nine members, three each representing employees, the school founder and parents or in the case of secondary school one of students.

While employees currently have five representatives on the councils with parents and founders having three each, the initial proposal by a group of mostly coalition MPs sought to increase the number of the founder’s representatives to five out of eleven.

The bill, which amends the financing and organisation of education act, also provides for promotion for assistant teachers at kindergartens and introduces a single national IT system to manage school paperwork.

The debate was split along the partisan lines with the coalition arguing the founder had to have a say in how schools are run, while the centre-left opposition complained of politicisation of schools, and noted the opposition by education staff and organisations.

Speaking for the sponsors, Mojca Škrinjar, an MP for the senior coalition Democrats (SDS), offered the example of a Covid denier headteacher who opposed Covid measures while the school’s founder, in this case the municipality, was helpless.

As to the IT system solution she criticised schools for paying a commercial provider for incomplete service six million euro a year, money that she said could be used to build a kindergarten.

Other coalition MPs also noted the single IT system solution which they said afforded the best standard of data protection and provided better access to data in education to policymakers.

Meanwhile, the centre-left opposition argued schools space was being politicised as the professional public was being excluded.

“The paradox is the whole education sector opposes such a proposal,” said Lidija Divjak Mirnik, an MP for the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), while Alenka Bratušek, speaking for her namesake party, agreed the final proposal was much better than the initial one, but said the only goal of the bill was to replace all school councils before the general election.