Kellegrew laughs when it's suggested school board attend a county meeting
© Dave Mathieson - Cumberland News Now
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.