Nova Scotia Education Minister's announcement leaves more questions than answers

The Nova Scotia government has announced significant changes to the education system, including the dissolution of 7 elected school boards.

Halifax (26 Jan. 2018) — On January 24, the Nova Scotia Liberal government announced some significant changes to the way education is delivered in the province. At a press conference, Education Minister Zach Churchill said the government will

  • unify the system by dissolving the 7 elected regional school boards and create one provincial advisory council. The structure of the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will not change;
  • a portion of the money saved will go to enhance the role and influence of school advisory councils for all schools (or families of schools) in the province to strengthen the local voice in schools;
  • change the name of superintendents to regional executive directors and enhance their role to focus on student achievement, reporting directly to the deputy minister of Education and Early Childhood Development;
  • move principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, while protecting salaries, pensions and benefits;
  • move teaching support specialists (literacy leads, math mentors) out of regional education offices and into classrooms 4 days a week, with the fifth day dedicated to planning and preparation; and
  • create an independent Provincial College of Educators.

At this point in time, there are more questions than answers. During a recent conference call, Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees (NSGEU/NUPGE) and Robin MacLean, NSGEU Executive Director, pressed the Department of Education on some basic answers, such as: Who is the new employer? What is the situation with bargaining currently underway with various boards? When will the changes take effect? But the NSGEU/NUPGE was told the department could provide no answers or specific details at this time.

The NSGEU/NUPGE stands in solidarity with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and other unions that will be impacted by these decisions. The NSGEU/NUPGE was not consulted or offered opportunity to provide input into the development of these changes. The union remains committed to holding this government accountable for its actions and to getting answers NSGEU/NUPGE members deserve. 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE