© Christopher Gooding - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST – On the heels of a school closure announced for Bass River and a number of pending closures, including elementary schools in River John and Wentworth, the province announced today its looking at a new school-review process and offered some temporary reprieve.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex wrote the province’s school boards to request the school-review process for 2013-14 be suspended while the new review process is being developed. She also asked the boards to delay any school closings decided in 2012-13 until the new process is in place.
The interim report from the Commission on Building Our New Economy, expected this fall, will also be used in developing the new approach.
"Schools are the heart of a community and community schools have been an important focus for this government," Jennex said today in a press release. "We are hearing from parents and families that recent changes to the school-review process didn't go far enough, so we need to develop a more collaborative process on how we deal with community schools and school-reviews.
"This wasn't an easy decision to make, but it is the right decision," Jennex said. "As the minister, I had to reach out to boards to ensure the process is stopped until further changes take place. We've listened to parents, school boards, communities and municipalities who have told us this process needs a major overhaul."
The Commission on Building Our New Economy, headed by Ray Ivany, is looking at how provincial priorities of innovation, skills training and competitiveness work in a local context, in tourism, manufacturing and primary production sectors, for young people, workers and families that seek a better life in their home communities.
"We will invite school boards, communities and other stakeholders to help in developing a new school-review process," Jennex said.
The review will also include the current process of turning schools over to municipalities after they are closed.
A discussion paper for public input will be ready this fall and the new process is expected to be in place by spring 2014.