Jackman still welcomes input into school board transition
© — Star photo by Gary Kean
Education Minister Clyde Jackman, left, chats with Vaughn Granter, Tory legislature member for Humber West, prior to a news conference in Corner Brook on Friday morning.
CORNER BROOK Education Minister Clyde Jackman says that any former or current school board officials concerned about the province’s approach to revamping the school administration system should provide their input to the committee struck to supervise the process.
The province has met with some criticism for its budgetary decision to collapse the regional school districts into one province-wide English school board and one French language board.
Some members of the Western School District’s current board of trustees have voiced their dislike of the plan. Trustee Robert Barrett even said that the transition committee is simply a group of government supporters who will do government’s bidding without question.
“The majority of the concerns I am hearing is from trustees and former CEOs,” said Jackman while in Corner Brook on Friday.
“I would ask them to put their issues to this transition committee because all of us are about the betterment of the student and the quality of education. We can choose to be on opposite sides and be fighting and rowing, or we can work together collectively.”
Jackman said the decision was based on demographics, such as a reduction in the number of students in the province, a drop in the number of schools and an increase in the operating expenses of schools in recent years.
If those in the education system loop have a better plan, Jackman said government would like to hear it.
“Whether it was a budget exercise or not, it was right that we take a look at this now,” said the minister. “What I am saying to them is that, based on those demographics and such, if you have that collective wisdom, now is the time to provide that information to the transition committee.”
He also dismissed calls for government to slow down and take more time to consider whether amalgamating all the school boards is the right thing to do.
“If we do that and things are not worked out to what they would exactly want to see the following year, do we keep going and duplicating services?” he asked.
Jackman said the decision is made and, as of Aug. 31, the four boards currently in existence will become defunct.
“This transition committee will continue to be the board and will continue their work as we move forward with this reconfiguration,” he said.
Friday night, Jackman was scheduled to address the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, which is holding its annual general meeting in Corner Brook this weekend.
He did not expect to meet with anger from that group in light of the controversial government decision.
“I think they recognize where we have decided to invest our money is directly for students and teachers,” said Jackman.