‘Sad day for education’: HRSB members react to elimination of boards
Elected Halifax Regional School Board and six others in Nova Scotia to disappear
January 25, 2018, 10:21 am ASTLast Updated: January 25, 2018, 3:14 pm AST'
They didn’t talk about it during the meeting, but in individual interviews, the general feelings expressed by Halifax Regional School Board members about the elimination of boards like theirs were ones of sadness and frustration.
On Wednesday night, the HRSB — made up of 10 elected members and two student advisers — had a meeting. It was the first one following the announcement the provincial government will eliminate all seven English language school boards.
The meeting, which had been previously scheduled, went as planned.
“From this point forward, to us, it’s business as usual,” said chairman Gin Yee before the meeting. For him, it’s important the transition and changes don’t affect the students.
District 2 representative Nancy Jakeman called it a “sad day for education.”
“It makes it difficult for us to be here tonight because we don’t know where we stand,” she said. “We don’t know when this is gonna be implemented. And it just feels like all the work that we’ve been doing is just being pushed aside.”
The elimination of elected school boards was one of 22 recommendations from a review of the province’s education administrative system.
HRSB represents 134 schools and over 48,000 students in the Halifax Regional Municipality. The school board is responsible for the management of all public schools within its jurisdiction.
Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province will create a single provincial advisory council, as well as school advisory councils for each school or family of schools. The Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, the province’s French language school board, won’t be affected.
“We, as board members, we take pride in being advocates for our communities,” said Jakeman. “One of the biggest things that I’ve heard around the table, (is that) we feel like that voice is gonna be lost now.”
It’s a sentiment shared by board member and African-Nova Scotian representative, Archy Beals. Beals is worried the decision will take away community voice and marginalized communities will be even more marginalized.
Suzy Hansen, representative for District 5, also thinks it’s a bad idea to eliminate school boards.
“I hope they keep the students’ achievements in mind, instead of their own personal gain,” she said.
The government plans to have the changes implemented by the beginning of the school year in September.