Nova Scotia hires Ontario consultant to evaluate how school system is run
Education Minister Zach Churchill, then minister of municipal affairs, fields questions in Halifax on Sept. 2, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Andrew Vaughan)
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 11, 2017 3:53PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 11, 2017 9:41PM EDT
HALIFAX -- A consultant is promising to examine all options in a review of how Nova Scotia's school system is run.
Avis Glaze, who served as Ontario's education commissioner and as senior adviser to that province's education minister, said Wednesday that she comes to her new job with no pre-conceived notions or government directions on such things as the possible elimination or amalgamation of the province's eight school boards.
"I think all the options are on the table and I have not at all pre-judged the situation. I want to listen first, think, reflect, look at the research and what works, and then write recommendations," said Glaze, who now lives in British Columbia.
Education Minister Zach Churchill confirmed the $75,000 review would have a broad mandate, including looking at the structure of the Education Department and the province's eight school boards.
"We haven't looked at our administrative model in two decades," he said. "We are moving forward aggressively in a number of key areas for the education system and I think it's important that we also look at how we administer the system too, while we have conversations around inclusion, early learning and classroom conditions."
The review, first promised in 2015, would look at all areas of administration and operations and would also look at ways of increasing accountability and transparency around budgetary decisions and the allocation of resources.
Churchill said it would begin immediately and the final report is to be submitted by Dec. 31. He said the government would consider giving Glaze more time if she requests it, but Glaze said she believes she can handle the time frame.
"It is a tall order," she said. "I'll work day and night ... but we will get it done."
Glaze said she will consult across the system including with school boards.
Hank Middleton, president of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, said he was pleased Glaze is conducting the review.
"If this review is going to be carried out in an impartial manner she would seem to be the person to do it."
Middleton questioned whether enough time had been allotted for the review, but said his association had been assured by Churchill that more time would be given if needed.
He said boards wouldn't be opposed to structural improvements as long as they help deliver services. In order to get there, he said Glaze would have to talk to boards which are diverse geographically, culturally and linguistically.
He then made the case for keeping them.
"I think we need democratically elected school boards," said Middleton. "They are the voice of the community ... and the voices of communities have to be heard. Everything can't be run out of Halifax."
The department later said that in addition to the consultant's fee quoted by Churchill, it would pay for other expenses including travel needed to conduct the review.