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2015 Education Action Plan and Government Media Release

Dear School Board and Stock Transportation Members:

On January 29, 2015, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Education released her Action Plan for Education. This follows the release of the final report of the Minister’s Panel on Education on October 30, 2014.

For your information, you can click here to view and download a copy of the Minister’s media release about her Plan and a four-page highlights document. You can find the full Action Plan at: http://www.ednet.ns.ca/files/2015/Education_Action_Plan_2015_EN.pdf

The Minister says the Plan focuses on fundamental changes to improve and modernize the education system for the first time in a generation. It will consist of four pillars: “A Modern Education System,” “Innovative Curriculum,” “Inclusive School Environment,”and “Excellence in Teaching and Leadership.” By September 2015, some 21 changes are to be implemented or put in place. There are also 11 new frameworks or bodies to be established.

However, once again, we have a major report for public education making no reference, let alone, any recognition of your dedication and hard work as support staff for the public school system. This is especially disappointing, considering the Minister wrote back to me on December 17, 2014 to say: “I am aware of the crucial link that support staff serve in our schools and agree that the members you represent play a valuable role in the Nova Scotia education system.” On January 26, she again wrote back to say: “I am aware of and most grateful for the contributions made by support staff to the success of students and schools.” But even so, nothing was mentioned about support staff in her Action Plan.

In our response of December 15 to the Panel’s Report, we outlined a new. additional theme called “Support Services” to the seven suggested by the Panel, for which we made eight specific recommendations. They included re-establishing school libraries in every school with adequate staffing to operate full-time. We will continue to raise these points in any future communications about the Action Plan.

The Plan does promise “to clarify the roles and responsibilities of all partners in education for the implementation of the Action Plan” during 2015-16. But, at this point, we have not been informed if we or our members will be included, and how this clarification will take place.

The full title for this document is “Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education the 3Rs: Renew, Refocus, Rebuild.” From what the Plan says and what the Minister has been saying, we think it might be appropriate to add a fourth “R,” namely, “Restructure.” This is because the Minister has asked the Auditor General to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of School Boards. This could mean possible amalgamations of boards and their functions as is taking place with the District Health Authorities. In particular, they mention purchasing, payroll, finance, and transportation services.

So, while support staff are not specifically mentioned in the Plan, they could be directly or indirectly affected by the implementation of one or more parts of the Plan. The restructuring of the Boards could be a major one, for which the Minister was not shy about saying she might do. There could also be major changes for our members who work as teacher aids, educational assistants, or educational program assistants.

In addition, the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union is faced with 8 changes or “take-aways” on page 17 of the Plan for their collective agreement. This could mean major proposals for concessions at other tables such as those of our members this year.

We want to get your reactions, questions, or comments as soon as possible. Please contact Nicole McKim (Employee Relations Officer) or Ian Johnson (Servicing Coordinator/Policy Analyst) at 1-877-556-7438 (toll-free) or 902-424-4063 (HRM), or at inquiry@nsgeu.ca

Your input and participation will be very important as this Plan is implemented.

In solidarity,

Joan Jessome

President

Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union

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