YARMOUTH – Who would have guessed the Tri-County Regional School board to be troubled and incompetent? You don't suppose the Save the Arcadia School Group was on to something after all?
I am personally a member of this group and we went up against this board using every available method and means to try to work with this board to expose some of the very issues that the auditor general has since made aware to the public.
We had petitions with literally hundreds of signatures, we sat in on board meetings, we held peaceful protests, we sent scores of emails, made multiple phone calls to both the board and the Education Department. We had great support and coverage from both our local paper, the Vanguard and the Chronicle Herald, thanks to journalists Tina Comeau and Brian Medel. Our local radio station covered this story extensively even providing an open-air forum on the Weekender program.
The sitting NDP government at the time refused to intervene in spite of former Education Minister Romona Jennex admitting that the process was “flawed” and kindly asked ALL school boards to put any further closures on hold until a better process was formulated.
This Board would have NO part of it and forged ahead in similar manner as our Yarmouth Municipal Council did when building the complex in Hebron against the will and wishes of their constituents. We know how that turned out for most of them at the ballot box. Suicide you might say. The ballot box certainly is the great equalizer.
Our group was told by both the previous NDP government and the present Liberal one that a government can not overturn a school board's decision. We were all aware, at the time, that a dysfunctional school board had been disbanded in the Halifax region.
It is interesting to note that the Education Minister has appointed Jim Gunn to oversee the troubled school board. Mr. Gunn just so happens to be the very consultant hired to determine what schools should face closure. It was his expert decision that Arcadia school wasn't one of them.
I have spoken to a number of people about his appointment to help handle, what Ms. Casey rightfully calls, “an urgent situation.” For the most part people view this appointment as putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
To Ms. Casey, we the people are kindly requesting you appoint another consultant who is not as tight and tied to the system. If this school board is troubled and incompetent, which it is, then let's be clear the Education Department has been in many ways equally dysfunctional.
We the people deserve better and our students deserve to “be put first” as the Tri- County Regional School Board’s slogan states.
Hopefully, the new year will mark a new beginning for education in our province.
Paul E. Blauvelt,