Nova Scotia advisory council on education meets behind closed doors for first time

Nova Scotia’s Provincial Advisory Council on Education met for the first time on Monday — but with meetings taking place behind closed doors, critics and Opposition MLAs are crying foul over a lack of transparency.

The 15-member council was created by the provincial government as part of the Education Reform Act passed earlier this year.

The act dissolved Nova Scotia’s elected school boards and replaced them with regional education centres while also creating the Provincial Advisory Council on Education (PACE).

The bill was a response to the Glaze Report, which was commissioned by the Liberal government in October and released in January.

Claudia Chender, an NDP MLA for Dartmouth South, says she has been skeptical of the claim that PACE was “somehow” going to take the place of the school boards.

“At least if these meetings were open, if people had access to this council and if people understood the issues that are being discussed, there would be some public forum that parents and other concerned citizens could engage with,” Chender said in an interview on Monday.

But behind closed doors, Chender says there is no avenue to have discussions.

Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, agrees with Chender’s comments.

“Teachers are certainly noticing the downloading of issues that typically belong to the school board, especially here in metro where there were incredible concerns about buses not being on time, not showing up,” he said.

An agenda provided by the Department of Education to Global News indicates that busing and busing consultations were a topic of discussion on Monday.

The department says that in the future, agendas and minutes as well any outcomes of the PACE meetings, will be posted publicly online.

The website was not ready in time for the first meeting of the council.

— With files from Sarah Ritchie

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