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N.S. Liberals appoint education advisory council after dissolving elected boards

FILE - The Liberal government promised to create an advisory council to the education minister after it dissolved elected school boards earlier this year. File / Getty Images

The Nova Scotia government’s 12 appointments to a new provincial advisory council on education have been announced, three weeks after the school year has started.

The Liberal government promised to create an advisory council to the education minister after it dissolved elected school boards earlier this year.

The Education Department said Thursday that more than 130 Nova Scotians applied for a position on the council. The 12 appointees join representatives of three member organizations, the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, the Council on Mi’kmaq Education and the Council on African-Canadian Education, to create a 15-member council.

READ: Decision to axe N.S. school boards, a reminder of power of cabinet: Charter expert

“I think collectively we’ve got a good diverse group of people that will provide a broad perspective on education policy and give whomever the minister is good advice,” said Education Minister Zach Churchill.

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The board members include former school board members and people with backgrounds that include teaching, school administration and working with students with a disability. It also has a balance of men and women from around the province, with each member receiving $600 a year as an honorarium along with funding for their expenses.

Churchill said one of the first priorities on which the department will seek advice from the council is student transportation and the first meeting will be scheduled “in the coming weeks.”

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The minister didn’t commit to making the meetings public, saying the issue would be discussed with the council.

“That would be very different from other advisory groups that we have,” Churchill said. “That said any meeting minutes that are taken will be made public.”

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Paul Wozney, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, said hold the meetings of the council in public would be a matter of basic transparency and accountability, so that “parents can observe decisions being made that will impact their children.”

“Today a Liberal majority on the provincial human resources committee rubberstamped a ist of names handpicked by the Education Minister that will make decisions on behalf of more than 100,000 students and their families,” he said in a news release.

“While I applaud those who put their name forward to be part of the council, this is a far cry from the high level of public accountability that existed under elected school boards.”

The 15-member Provincial Advisory Council on Education includes:

– Gin Yee, Halifax County, two-year term.

– Christopher Gilham, Antigonish Co., one-year term.

– Margaret (Joan) MacDonnell, Pictou Co., one-year term.

– Brent Noiles, Cumberland Co., one-year term.

– Stephen Parsons, Cape Breton Co., one-year term.

– Maura Ryan, Kings Co., one-year term.

– Nastasya Kennedy, Kings Co., one-year term.

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– Suzy Hansen, Halifax Regional Municipality, two-year term.

– Archy Beals, Halifax Regional Municipality, two-year term.

– Michael Drew, Yarmouth Co., two-year term.

– Lynn LeVatte, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, two-year term.

– Hendricka van Gurp, Lunenburg Co., two-year term.

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