HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's teachers' union is slamming the passage of a contentious bill that makes sweeping reforms to the education system.

The governing Liberals used their majority to pass Bill 72 by a vote of 25-21 late Thursday, one week after it was introduced by Education Minister Zach Churchill.

The legislation dissolves the province's seven regional school boards as of March 31 and replaces them with a 15-member provincial advisory council, while keeping local school advisory councils in place along with board administrations.

In another contentious move it takes principals, vice-principals and senior supervisory staff from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and rolls them into a new association affiliated with the union.

NSTU president Liette Doucet said in a statement that the bill's passage "marks the beginning of a more fractured education system in Nova Scotia," and will bring division to schools.

Premier Stephen McNeil says he believes the changes will give communities a stronger voice because they will get direct access to the minister.

NDP education critic Claudia Chender calls the notion "absurd" and says the concerns of parents will end up falling to members of the legislature.

The legislation is largely based on recommendations contained in a report by consultant Avis Glaze.