Cape Breton-Victoria School Board steps up and releases school level data on basic indicators

 

HalifaxResponding to four years of effort by AIMS to obtain this information, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board (CBVRSB) has become the first school board in the province to release a broad set of information on attendance, discipline and student performance at the schools within their district. Assertions by the remaining Boards that this information is not tracked, not accessible, or too expensive to produce have now lost any last shred of credibility.

 

It has taken four years, eight freedom of information applications, five appeals, and a damning series of reports from the Freedom of Information Review Officer, but the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) has finally received basic information about the performance of public schools from one of eight school boards in Nova Scotia.

 

In response to the recommendations contained in a forceful decision by Darce Fardy, Review Officer under the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the CBVRSB released this information free of charge admitting, as the Review Officer had concluded, that doing so was in the public interest.

 

While highlighting that no systemic approach to collect and compare this information exists at the Board level, the CBVRSB worked with each individual school to access what records did exist and has now delivered them to AIMS. The Institute will work to deliver the content of those records to the public in an easy to understand and informative format.

 

“It was simply inconceivable to us that a public education system could be managed effectively in the absence of basic indicators about whether the kids are coming to class, what happens when they get there, and how well they do.” says Charles Cirtwill, AIMS Vice President.

 

AIMS has received two other responses to the decisions of the Freedom of Information Review Officer and will meet with both the Halifax Regional School Board and the South Shore Regional School Board in coming days. Both of those Boards however, while agreeing to meet, still insist that much of the data requested by AIMS is either not available or will cost too much to access in their schools. They also point to the Education Act and the Department of Education as the ultimate arbiters of what records Boards keep.

 

Says Cirtwill, β€œIn contrast to their peers, the Cape Breton-Victoria Board clearly understood the intent of the Review Officer’s ruling, that this information should already be available to the Boards, to the schools and to the public. While CBVRSB also pointed the finger at the Department as being ultimately responsible for improving reporting, they have actively taken steps to ensure this information is made available during the transition, while the province completes its plans for a province-wide student information system. We also must point out that in two of the other three Atlantic provinces, this information is freely available at no cost. Only in Nova Scotia have school authorities claimed that this information was unavailable or asked exorbitant fees to release it.”

 

AIMS has promised to compile the information that has been released into a single, easily understood and readily comparable format so that Board staff, elected officials, principals, teachers, students, parents and the public at large will get from this effort a valuable tool in the fight to make our schools the very best they can be.

 

To read the Decision Reports, please click the links below:

 

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For further information, contact:

 

Charles Cirtwill, AIMS Vice President

902-489-7699

 

Barbara Pike, AIMS Director of Communications

902-452-1172