October 25th, 2019

Liberals’ school site selection process lacks transparency

Halifax-- Communities across Nova Scotia continue to face difficulties with the new school site selection process. Since the removal of school boards, the process has been plagued with complaints about transparency and a lack of clarity from the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

“By removing public engagement from the process, the Liberal government is causing frustration among community groups who rightfully want to have a voice in school site selection,” said NDP Education Spokesperson Claudia Chender. “Schools are an important part of any community. The decision of where to build a new school should include the community’s voice. Our education system is compromised when local decision making is taken away.”

The old school site selection process included a Site Selection Committee including community members, and the African Nova Scotia and Mi’kmaq school board representatives. Now the process will only engage with stakeholders for feedback when two or more viable sites are being considered.

“The Minister of Education is not being transparent about the school site selection process,” said Kent Smith, President of the Musquodoboit Harbour & Area Chamber of Commerce & Civic Affairs. “We were told – without question – there would be opportunities for public input and consultation. That is not how the new process reads. This omission is unacceptable and unfair to Nova Scotians.”

The NDP has tabled legislation that would require more transparency in school site selection, including establishing a school capital construction committee and creating a policy that would require government to consider social, economic, environmental and cultural connections of the community when choosing the location of public facilities.