Status quo for now under new school board

Students and parents shouldn't expect many big changes on the first day of school under the new English school board, the chief executive officer says.
Darrin Pike, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, says changes to rules in different regions will be slow moving. (CBC)

Students and parents shouldn't expect immediate changes under the new provincial English school board, the chief executive officer says.

Darrin Pike said there will be few, if any major policy changes in the different regions of the province for the first year.

Pike said current regional rules will stay in place so disruption for staff and students will be minimal.

He said the transition from four boards to one has centred around getting the new board up and running.

"Our functions were around the administration, the finance of the board, the things that most people don't interact with ... the support system behind the doors," he said.

"For this school year what we'll start with is the pre-existing policies. So for a while we'll still have those differences ... that each region will fall under its previous policies," Pike added. "Over the course of the school year, we'll consolidate, consult where necessary, and some policies are easy to consolidate and some are more challenging to consolidate."

Business as usual for now

Pike said it will be status quo for schools until the board can determine which areas require special attention.

"We're still going to have those differences. We really can't rapidly consolidate policies where some of them deserve that consultation process, that full engagement, whether it's teachers or parents or both. So we will have those differences carry on into the new district."

Nathan Whalen, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, says he thinks there will still be special attention paid to each region under the new mega-school district. (CBC)

Nathan Whalen, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, said it seems like the changes for the regions won't be too rapid.

"We are going to go from four English school boards to one, so I think that is obviously going to have an impact. But I think that just based on what we've seen, we're going to see a very smooth transition for students on Wednesday," Whalen said.

He added that any concerns about a lack of consideration for regions outside St. John's will be addressed by focusing on empowering school councils.

"I think it's really important to recognize that there's still going to be people responsible within the school district for certain regions and for certain areas, so I don't think that that's going to be lost as much as some people would say," Whalen said.

"However, I do definitely agree that it's going to be more important that we focus on school councils and that we ensure that their voices are heard."