Cumberland County council fed up with school board’s dismissiveness

Dave Mathieson
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Kellegrew laughs when it's suggested school board attend a county meeting

County councilors John Kellegrew (left), Allison Gillis and Lynne Welton spoke of their frustrations with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board during a recent meeting of council. 

UPPER NAPPAN – County councilors want elected and non-elected officials at the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board to be more responsive to their concerns.

“They’re not being accountable and they won’t listen to anybody,” said Lynne Welton, councilor for District 5 for the Municipality of Cumberland County, during a recent council meeting.

Welton, along with District 4 councilor Allison Gillis, recently attended a meeting at the Wallace Museum with parents who were concerned about their children’s bus routes.

“I totally support what Linda is saying,” said Gillis during the meeting of council. “There was a small number of parents at the meeting but listening to those parents there seems to be a quick fix to those bussing issues in that area.

“It’s a disastrous situation,” added Gillis. “And I think we have every right to ask somebody from that school board to be here (at the council chamber) so we can ask them some questions.”

John Kellegrew, councilor for District 2, laughed at the idea and said it would never happen.

“They won’t come here,” said Kellegrew. “We asked two school board officials to come here. They never showed up.”

Kellegrew says going to the board’s public meetings doesn’t work either.

He said that a few years ago a whole bunch of them headed to the River Hebert High School to get answers from the school board.

“Murray Scott was the provincial minister of justice at the time and they told him he was out of order and that he wasn’t allowed to speak and the whole nine yards,” said Kellegrew. “So, if you’re talking about how much power the school board’s got, there’s a good indication for you, because you have government officials and ministers who can’t even get through to them.”

Welton said the same thing happened to her predecessor in District 5, Ron MacNutt.

“Ron did a big report up in 2010. The school board told him to take it to their meeting. He took it to the meeting and they wouldn’t let him speak,” said Welton.

Welton says that one of the parents at the recent meeting in Wallace complained that the member of the school board representing her area never returns phone calls.

“Parents call the school board and they don’t hear back,” said Welton. “There is one person who answers but they just spout off what they’re supposed to spout off.

“I’ve called Margie Nicholson from Tatamagouche. She looks after the Wallace route,” added Welton. “She finally admitted that she knew where Route 6 was because she has been to Wallace, but she didn’t have a clue in the world where the bus routes ran.

“She told me after about 30 seconds that no matter what we came up with that it wouldn’t be changed, and she made no bones about it…I think this is very wrong in a democratic society.”

Rennie Bugley, the CAO for the Municipality of Cumberland County, suggested that the scope of the school boards responsibilities is too expansive.

“There are two areas of school board responsibility, the bussing and maintenance, where they don’t seem to respond to the public or the parents, and, also, the review of buildings (school closures),” said Bugley. “If the province was responsible for those two programs then the school board could focus solely on education programs, which should be their area of expertise.”

Welton agreed with Bugley, and said she is writing a letter with her concerns and will send the letter to each member of the CCRSB and to Karen Casey, the Nova Scotia minister for Education and Early Childhood Development.








Organizations: Cumberland County council, Central Regional School Board, Wallace Museum River Hebert High School

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Chignecto, Tatamagouche Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Concerned Parent
    February 07, 2014 - 09:45

    I total agree with the Council's position. I had concerns last year with a situation at the Amherst Regional High School and e-mailed my "elected" school board representative on several occasions and to this date have never received a response, not even as much as a courtesy reply, thanking me for my concern, or advising that my concern would be looked into or maybe that it would actually be addressed. Makes me wonder what we elect them for... maybe just the big honorariums or big travel expense cheques to attend Board meetings... because they certainly don't attend anything else. It was noted during the recent consultation meetings held at the high school regarding rural school closures that the Amherst elected school board representative, David Myles, was not even in attendance at that meeting. One would think that this would have been a priority and he would have ensured that he attended to represent his elected constituents... what a "novel" idea.... actually doing the job that you are elected to do! Nova Scotians really need to get rid of school boards in the Province and have the school principals, superintendents, etc. report to the Minister of Education. This system of School Boards gives the Boards too much power and they are accountable to no one it seems. I, for one, want to see our Government get rid of School Boards so we can see accountability finally come into place for our school system in Nova Scotia.

  • Wingman
    February 05, 2014 - 18:52

    They remind of the Councillors, can't get any answers from them either unless they are looking for a vote.

  • Dave
    February 05, 2014 - 17:58

    Even Dexter figured out that the school board does not have to answer to anyone. That is why he put the construction of the River Hebert school in the hands of the Department of Transportation! The people of River Hebert have raised this concern for the last 5 years!

    • sour doe
      February 06, 2014 - 14:10

      i think river hebert was all about votes . school board couldve done the project but was only allowed so much money. so the govt took over and went over budget as well and river hebert suffers

    • Dave
      February 10, 2014 - 17:30

      Can sour doe explain to me how come after the Dept of Transportation were given the project they bought in on budget . Your statement proves my point!!!!! The project came in at 6.2 million. That is what was set aside for the project.

  • ZENA
    February 05, 2014 - 17:00

    "Absolute power corrupts absolutely"