Education Minister Karen Casey is prepared to introduce amendments to the Education Act to strengthen the community’s role in reviewing schools for possible closure.
In her initial response to the report of the School Closure Process Review Committee today, Feb. 8, the education minister said she has shared the report with cabinet and the eight school boards, and through the boards, with school advisory councils and school communities across the province.
Ms. Casey will consider comments received from stakeholders during the next few weeks before releasing a final response and introducing amendments to the legislation, possibly during the spring session.
The minister’s response addresses the status of 10 schools that were under review in March 2006.
“The school review process included in any proposed amendments would, if passed, apply to those 10 schools and our request to postpone their review would be rescinded,” said Ms. Casey.
Ms. Casey supports the following recommendations in the report:
— remove the word closure from references to the process in the act and regulations;
— clarify the criteria for identifying schools for review;
— have board staff prepare a comprehensive report on each school being reviewed and recommend an outcome of that review, to which a study committee would respond;
–extend the time frame of the review process from four months to one year;
— encourage school staff and administration and require school advisory councils, where they exist, to participate on study committees; and
— require the principal of a school slated for closure and the principal of a receiving school to develop a transition strategy for the affected students.
As well, the Department of Education will consider examining the current process and related legislation that governs the school consolidation process.
The School Closure Process Review Committee met with school board members and staff, and held 10 public meetings in September and October 2006. The committee received 145 response forms and written submissions and heard 64 presentations.