Education Minister Serge Rousselle said on Wednesday he wants to see the lost time made up,although he fell short of suggesting any specific solutions.

“We are ready to talk to the different districts to make sure our kids in the province have a good education with the number of days required for what they have to learn,” he told reporters at the legislative press gallery in Fredericton. “We are open to discussions.”

If deemed necessary, the districts can request the Education Department to convert some professional development days to regular teaching days. It’s already happened this year: The four anglophone districts made the request to change the April 30 PD day into a regular school day, and the minister approved it.

“School districts are responsible for managing the school calendar and ensuring that the curriculum is delivered within the allotted number of teaching days,” said Sheila Lagacé, a government spokeswoman.“The department has full confidence in the work of the district, teachers and staff to manage the school calendar after the series of storms this month and last.”

But at least one expert in education policy believes New Brunswick children are losing too many school days to snowstorms and should be doing special homework assignments or using the Internet to learn from home.

Paul Bennett, the director of Schoolhouse Consulting and an adjunct professor of education at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, says the province only needs to look at some of its American neighbours for ideas on how to make up lost school days.

“Connecting the dots leads to one inescapable conclusion: Students in New Brunswick, as well as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, would be doing better if they actually spent more time in school and were expected to complete work now being ‘written-off’ in our public schools,” Bennett wrote in a column for the Telegraph-Journal. “Cancelling whole school days for real or threatened severe weather, then allowing between 15 days to be consumed by ‘Teacher Days’ for professional activities is only compounding the province’s well-known student performance challenges.”

*This article appeared in the Telegraph Journal