Nova Scotia

Bill to change education administration coming Thursday

Premier Stephen McNeil says his government's bill to change the administration of public education in Nova Scotia will be introduced Thursday.

Union provincial executive to meet Thursday to determine 'an appropriate response'

Stephen McNeil says his government will introduce changes to the Education Act on Thursday. (CBC)

Premier Stephen McNeil says his government's bill to change the administration of public education in Nova Scotia will be introduced Thursday.

McNeil made the announcement to reporters at Province House on Wednesday following question period.

The premier said he spoke to Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Liette Doucet on the phone Wednesday morning to let her know the bill would be introduced tomorrow. Members of his staff also dropped off a copy of the bill to the union's head office.

A statement from the union said the provincial executive would meet tomorrow to "discuss the contents of this bill, and to determine an appropriate response." There will be no job action on Thursday.

During a meeting with Doucet on Monday, McNeil heard about a list of concerns the union had with recommendations in the Glaze Report. That report calls for sweeping administrative change, including removing vice-principals, principals and board administrators from the union, abolishing school boards in favour of school advisory committees and creating a professional college of teachers.

'Reflects the spirit of the Glaze Report'

McNeil wouldn't go into details when asked if the bill reflects what he heard during Monday's meeting.

"I believe it reflects some of their concerns and also reflects the spirit of the Glaze Report," he said.

"Some of [the concerns] we were able to deal with, some of them we weren't."

The union's reaction to the report has been negative, as members have voiced concerns about what the changes might mean for the classroom. Teachers voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving their union a mandate for illegal job action in response to the report. McNeil said he has no information about if the union is planning job action in response to the bill.

Goal to pass bill before March Break

"That job action will be determined by the teachers union. If it were up to me, there would be no job action. If you're asking me today, I wouldn't take job action on this bill or any bill that's brought before the House."

Education Minister Zach Churchill has travelled the province meeting with teachers. He said earlier this week concerns from teachers informed some of the government's decisions, including giving administrators a year to decide whether to stay in their jobs or return to the classroom in order to remain in the union.

The premier said it would be determined "as we go forward" if the government will call extended House hours to pass the bill "in a timely fashion." He said he'd like the bill passed before March Break.

McNeil said he planned to work with the union to implement the review on inclusion following its delivery at the end of March. The premier has said there would be a major investment in the upcoming budget to put changes into action.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

now