Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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SRSB superintendent says 2017 will be busy with school, boundary, transportation reviews

The Strait Regional School Board's superintendent says board officials are taking their time in conducting transportation and boundary reviews in Antigonish.

Ford Rice says the board's new long-range outlook will hopefully be passed at the monthly meeting in early January.

The transportation and boundary reviews will take place over multiple years under that new plan, instead of within just one year.

In a year-end interview, Rice tells The Hawk that Antigonish is the toughest area to review.

"It's a tremendous amount of work to look at all of the schools in Antigonish because of course as you know, it's our most populated area and our most number of buses," he says, "so we're going to be looking at it very carefully and considering all aspects prior to making any decisions."

Rice says board officials have already met with administrators from H. M. MacDonald Elementary as part of the process, and they have plans to meet with St. Andrew's Consolidated representatives as well.

The superintendent says the process is taking place alongside reviews of the Dalbrae and Dr. J.H. Gillis feeder systems.

Rice says those school reviews will be emotional, just like the one that concluded in the spring.

Board members voted in April to close Mulgrave Memorial Education Centre as of June 2018, following a review of the SAERC feeder system.

MMEC has become a Grade P to 6 school instead of a P-8 school, with Grade 7 and 8 students being sent to Tamarac Education Centre.

Rice says many people strongly when it comes to decisions on a school's future.

"It's a very emotional experience for the parents and guardians," he says. "It's a very emotional experience for the children involved, and these decisions are never easy."

Rice says board officials found the parent consultation process and online submissions very helpful during the SAERC review.

Rice says recent provincial assessment results are a testament to the hard work of the board's teachers and students.

He says the board's Grade 8 students finished first in the province in reading, writing and math; Grade 10 SRSB students were first province-wide in reading and math, and second in writing.

Rice says those results are a reflection of high-quality instruction in the Quad Counties.

"This just speaks to the board's commitment to student achievement," he says, "and also it speaks to the good work that our teachers do each and every day in our classrooms."

Rice says the ongoing transportation, boundary and school reviews are all done with a view toward directing as much money as possible toward classrooms.

The superintendent says the board will continue to adapt to the NSTU's job action, however long it lasts.

Rice says administrators spent considerable time finding approved supervisors when the work-to-rule action was announced in November.

He says another call was put out in late December because some supervisors were only able to work for a short period of time.

Rice says board officials are sensitive to the teachers' position.

"We don't want to make demands of our teachers, and we don't want to make demands of our administrators, that would put them in conflict with the directives of the work-to-rule document," he says, "so we're working through that process. As it goes on, depending how long it goes on, we'll have to look at that seriously in the New Year."

Rice says he's hopeful that the NSTU and provincial government will reach an agreement before too long.

Click here to listen to the full interview:


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