Snow days – another view

Educational consultant Paul W. Bennett, a former principal of Halifax Grammar School, thinks we should not be too quick to dismiss the connection between unsnowy snow days and the provisions of the teachers’ collective agreement.

[T]he key factor [in school closures] is the collective agreement which has been in place in Nova Scotia since the mid-1970s. In that sense, the Education Department is just as culpable as the NSTU.

The teachers’ agreement originally included an understanding that about five days a year would be written off as “throw-away” snow days. The Agreement with the NSTU also stipulates that if buses are cancelled and schools closed to students, then teachers do not have to report for duty. This is very unusual and has been eliminated in most other provinces.

What’s the impact?  No one in NS worries if four or five days are lost each year. The problem only surfaced when school boards canelled from eight to 14 full days last school year. Then it became apparent to everyone that there was no provising for reclaiming lost days, or any real policy to contain or even limit cancellations.

I am just completing a major comparative study of school storm days, demonstrating conclusively that Maritimers are the biggest “fraidy cats” of them all.  It also shows that Maritimers are the outliers when it comes to protecting valuable teaching-learning time and that this is a major factor contributing to our chronic “below Canadian average” student performance results.