Question Period (05.02.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Last month, the Minister of Education attended the Federation School Councils AGM where he asked school councils to help his department to make our schools safe and positive learning environments.

Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that school councils are established through legislation, this government provides no direct annual funding to them.

I ask the minister: How does he expect school councils to carry out their statutory responsibilities and to help his department when they are not provided the basic resources they need to operate?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

School councils, Mr. Speaker, are established so that we can have more of a parental role in the school system. We work very closely with them, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, I have a request from the new executive to have a meeting with them. Mr. Speaker, I am in the process of setting that up now. We will work jointly with the school councils to see what it is we can do to strengthen their role, Mr. Speaker, that role which is very, very important in our school system.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that many school councils do not have funding for basic supplies like paper and photocopying. They have no direct funding that is provided by government. The Federation of School Councils that the minister referenced has not seen any increase in funding in over a decade. This year’s Budget also directs school districts to trim tens of thousands of dollars from their operations, so that bodes poorly for school councils.

I ask the minister: How does he justify this lack of funding for school councils? Why are school councils such a low priority for this government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, I can assure that member there has not been a government who have committed more to education than this government, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, you would be up and having me sit down before I could get through one-tenth of what we have committed to in education, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I can sit down with him any time and list them out because, as far as I am concerned, he has not done enough research to find out what we have invested in, Mr. Speaker. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, school councils, I will commit to meeting with them to see what it is that we can do to further their cause so that their role is strengthened within our schools system.

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