It has recently been reported that Education Minister Clyde Jackman is interested in the possibility of amalgamating school boards as a means of cost cutting.
Specifically, Minister Jackman has not ruled out the possibility of merging the Eastern School Board and the Nova Central Board. Minister Jackman has stated that the Department of Education is exploring “ways to find efficiencies” through amalgamation.
As a parent who has been involved in the education system for many years, at both the local and the provincial levels, and who currently serves on two school councils in the west end of St. John’s, it has been my experience and it is my opinion that the Eastern School Board suffers some significant dysfunctionality. True, it is large and cumbersome, but that is not the crux of its problem. The Eastern School Board serves two very qualitatively diverse groups: rural schools and urban schools. These groups face very different challenges and have very different concerns.
My suggestion, if the minister is looking for amalgamation as a means of finding efficiencies, is this: merge the rural areas of the Eastern School District with the Nova Central School District and have the Eastern School District’s jurisdiction cover the urban schools only. In terms of student population, the Eastern School Board will still likely be the largest board, but configuring amalgamation this way, will allow the boards to find efficiencies by focusing their attention and energy on more homogenous groups.
Sarah Colborne Penney