New school review process introduced

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A new school review process will focus on long-range planning, public engagement and collaborative action.

TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey introduced amendments to the Education Act Wednesday, April 23, that support and outline a new school review process.

"We have heard the concerns of parents and teachers and, as a result, the new school review process is a significant departure from the past, with an emphasis on better planning and more collaboration,"  Casey said in a media release. "These amendments are the first phase in implementing the new process. Further details will be worked out during the next few months with our partners to develop a thorough school review policy. The process will be in place by September."

The amendments are in response to recommendations by Robert Fowler, who led a public review of the current process this winter.

Key features of the new process include:

-- school boards will be required to develop a long-range regional plan for their schools

-- school boards will identify a group of schools for review in their long-range plan

-- a local school review committee will conduct reviews for each group and look at the best solutions, with help from an independent facilitator

-- reports and recommendations will be prepared by the review committee, not just school board staff, parents or the community

-- boards will have more flexibility when to start a review

-- school review milestones will be time-based rather than set calendar dates (e.g. within 30 days)

-- school boards will remain responsible for deciding whether a school is closed

The review committee, led by  Fowler, was established in 2013 to look at the process in depth. It met with stakeholders, the public, school boards, municipalities and school advisory councils.  Fowler forwarded his recommendations to Casey on Feb. 28.

"I want to thank Mr. Fowler and all of the Nova Scotians who participated in the review,"  Casey said. "I accept all of Mr. Fowler's recommendations in principle."

No schools are currently under review and none can be put forward until the new process is in place.

The recommendations and Casey's response can be found at www.ednet.ns.ca/schoolreview .

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