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Education minister says board structure changes are coming soon

The province's education minister says changes to the board structure are coming quickly; they're looking at the end of March.

Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development has been in the area to meet with board members and staff.

He says regional offices will still be in place and there will be school advisory council representatives from every school.

Churchill tells The Hawk jobs are going to be affected.

"This is impacting the jobs of the elected board members," he says. "In the central offices however, there will not be layoffs; there will be changing of job descriptions and redeployment of resources back into the classroom to better support the needs of our kids and our teachers in our schools."

Churchill says they've heard mixed feedback from the report by Dr. Avis Glaze- they've had difficult conversations with teachers, principals, community members and parents.

He says there will be time for thoughtful and cautious implementation of the recommendations.

Churchill says it's not an easy time for board members.

"Board members are hurt," he says. "This isn't a commentary on them or their work; this is a commentary that Dr. Glaze has given us on the system itself and how the system has failed all the players within it to a certain extent."

Churchill says he knows there's disagreement and fear, but he doesn't believe illegal strike action by teachers would be in the best interests of students.

He says they believe change within the education system is necessary.

"Status quo is not producing the best result for our front line teachers and principals," he says. "It's not producing the best results for our students."

Churchill says we've consistently performed at or below the national average.


Local vice-principal says she'd step down if Glaze recommendations are implemented

A vice principal and math intervention specialist in the Quad Counties says an upcoming strike vote is needed because they want more discussion with provincial government officials about "Raise the Bar."

Sue Larivière-Jenkins from École acadienne de Pomquet, says there are a variety of issues with what provincial officials accepted in the report with recommendations for the education system by Dr. Avis Glaze.

One of the recommendations is to remove principals and vice principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

Larivière-Jenkins tells The Hawk she'd return to the classroom if that's the case.

"For me, personally, I like to work with the teachers- we work together," she says. "Maybe it continues that way for the next couple of years, but it will eventually change and erode over time- we've seen proof in Ontario and BC, (where) there are more grievances, there are more issues that crop up."

Larivière-Jenkins says provincial officials need to sit at the table and talk to teachers, specialists and administrators in schools.

Robert Lelievre, the president of the NSTU- Inverness Local, says they want to find out what mandate they get- if members are willing to go out on some form of work stoppage, such as a complete walkout or an end of extra-curricular activities.

Lelievre says there's concern about what would happen if principals and vice principals do step down from their positions if they're removed from the union.

"Who do we fill them up with? Business managers? People that don't know what's happening in our schools, what's happening in our classrooms?" he says. "It's just not fair to us in the classrooms, it's not fair to our students- as a principal, they build relationships with students and teachers."

The strike vote is scheduled for Tuesday.


Man charged following reported gun threat in Antigonish has case adjourned

A suspect arrested after police responded to a complaint of a threat that involved a gun in Antigonish has had his case adjourned.

RCMP say a man threatened a woman in the town one afternoon in January.

They say he told her he had a gun in his vehicle.

Police say they seized a .22 calibre handgun, ammo, a baseball bat and a knife.

They say officers arrested John Francis Gerroir, 54, outside a home on Braemore Ave.

Gerroir, who has been in custody since his arrest, has been charged with several firearms offences, two counts of criminal harassment and one count of uttering threats; he was expected for a fitness hearing in Antigonish Provincial Court Wednesday.

Instead, it was adjourned, and he was remanded into a mental institute until his next hearing Feb. 28.


Drug bust suspect has charge dismissed

A man from Port Hawkesbury charged with drug-related offences after a traffic stop in the town has had his charge dismissed.

Police say members of the Inverness District RCMP Street Crime Enforcement Unit stopped a vehicle on Reeves St. in Feb. 2017.

They say officers seized cocaine and drug paraphernalia from the driver and a passenger.

Jared Bradford McNamara, 30, and Sean Dale Simon, 36, were charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking; they were released on conditions shortly after their arrests.

The Crown offered no evidence against McNamara, and his charge was dismissed in Port Hawkesbury Provincial Court Wednesday.

Simon is scheduled to stand trial in March.


Antigonish drug bust suspects expected back in court in April

The cases of two men arrested following a drug bust in Antigonish are scheduled to return to court in the spring.

Police say members of the Antigonish/Guysborough RCMP Street Crime Enforcement Unit searched a home on Hawthorne St. in November.

They say officers seized a large amount of cocaine, marijuana and cash.

RCMP say two Antigonish men have been charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Michael Charles Benoit, 49, of Antigonish and Coty Weston Leblanc, 23, made their first court appearances in the case in January; they returned to Antigonish Provincial Court Wednesday.

They're expected back for preliminary hearings April 18.


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