On Monday, the Edmonton Public School Board invites the 61 member school boards of the Alberta School Boards Association to restore school board choice in membership. We have put forward an emergent amendment for discussion, requesting that our employee health plan (the Alberta School Employees Benefit Plan) not require school boards to be ASBA members. For over 34 years this was the case– boards could access the benefit plan, but were not required to be ASBA members to do so.
Section 5.3.1 of the ASEBP Deed of trust was amended in 1994, adding a new requirement that in order to participate in ASEBP, a school board must either be a member of the ASBA, or be approved for participation by the parties to the deed.
This amendment does not align with the Alberta School Boards Association Act, which provides that ASBA membership is voluntary, not mandatory, and was made without the District’s approval, with the result that the Board feels that it has been deprived of its statutory right to choose ASBA membership, or not. This amendment was purely designed to artificially strengthen the ASBA and was politically motivated in nature. It does not enhance the benefits for employees or for boards.
1. Section 3-3.1(b) shall be amended as follows:
Membership in ASBA shall NOT be a requirement for boards to be eligible for continued participation in group benefits through ASEBP;
Current ASBA policy reads:
Association Partnerships 3-1 Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP)
The Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) takes the following positions with regard to the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP) Deed of Trust:
1 Membership in ASBA shall be a requirement for boards to be eligible for continued participation in group benefits through ASEBP;
2 ASEBP administration shall operate independently of the ASBA and the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) by reporting directly to the ASEBP Insurance Board;
3 The ASEBP Trust shall be solely responsible for any liabilities of the ASEBP plans or operation; 4 The ATA and the ASBA shall refrain from appointing their collective bargaining negotiators to the ASEBP board of directors; and
5 a. Appointment of representatives from ASBA to the ASEBP board of directors shall be for a maximum of two successive three-year terms; and
b. Representatives from ASBA to the ASEBP board of directors may serve for more than two, three- year terms provided they are not successive.
This amendment would bring the ASBA back in conformance with the Alberta School Boards Association Act (which provides school boards the ability to leave the ASBA), and would make it more responsive to its member boards, leading to greater member satisfaction and a stronger ASBA. Lastly and most importantly, it would promote and honour local autonomy for all boards.
We will be proposing this emergent motion at 0900AM, Monday November 16th at the ASBA Fall General Meeting. Edmonton Public Schools has been actively advocating to the ASBA Board of Directors to undo the amendment requiring membership since June 2015(01 – June 3, 2015 Letter from General Counsel re ASEBP Deed of Trust).
We are optimistic that other school boards will support us, such as the board of Medicine Hat School District (below).
Our request letter: