Education Minister Karen Casey

Education Minister Karen Casey said while professional development is important, the Drake University courses don't meet the province's standards for upgrading. (CBC)

Despite the provincial government’s decision to no longer qualify teachers for automatic pay increases when they complete DVD courses from Drake University, 464 teachers are still eligible for the courses and subsequent pay raise. 

They were pre-approved by the province before the ban on Drake University courses. On Wednesday Education Minister Karen Casey revealed teachers were clamouring to get in before the door closed.

"Once we announced that we were doing a review, we had a flood of applications come in for that, that came in after February 19," she said.

If all those still eligible complete the course, the pay bumps could cost taxpayers anywhere from $2.7 million to $3.7 million per year.

"To a taxpayer it’s disappointing, but I really don’t think that minister had much choice," said Robert Berard, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Earlier this year, CBC found that a total of 41 Nova Scotia teachers had their certification upgraded after completing Drake courses in the last three years. 

Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed two-thirds of them took coaching courses. In all, 505 teachers were pre-approved to take the courses.

"There's no interaction with any faculty throughout the whole length of the DVD course,” Casey said. "It was the right decision."

The automatic pay increases ranged from $6,000 to $8,000.

Neither Mount Saint Vincent University nor St. Francis Xavier University will accept credits from Drake University DVD courses. And Drake University itself does not accept some of the DVD courses, which it had bought from a third party.

Jarad Bernstein, the spokesperson for Drake University, said the continuing education courses referenced in the CBC report were developed by the university’s extension education department specifically for coaches and physical educators.

"We are confident that the courses meet the goals for which they were designed," he said.

Casey said her decision follows a review by staff launched on February 19, the day CBC broke the story.

"If a university will not accept its own courses then the province of Nova Scotia should probably not accept them either," Berard said.