Quality education for students will continue to be the priorityas the South Shore, Tri-County and Strait district school boardsmove to regional school board status in August 2004. Cabinet approved today, April 22, the recommendation to move thedistrict boards to regional status in time for the fall 2004school board elections. In 2000, the former Southwest Regional School Board was splitinto two district boards: the Tri-County and South Shore pilotdistrict educational boards. These district boards shared aregional service provider, which was responsible for managingfacilities, transportation, human resources and providingfinancial services support. The arrangement allowed the Tri-County and South Shore boards to focus on education. This structure, separating facility and administrative supportfrom educational matters, was extended to the Strait in 2002. Thelegislation that enabled both pilot boards will expire in October 2004. The amendment to move these boards back to regional status, withresponsibility for both education and facilities, will beintroduced under the Financial Measures Act in this legislativesession. It will include a provision that will allow the SouthShore and Tri-County boards to share administrative services.Tri-County supports such an approach. The Strait’s configurationis not conducive to the shared services model. “The Tri-County, South Shore and Strait school boards have allworked hard throughout the pilot projects to deliver a qualityeducation to students in their districts,” said EducationMinister Jamie Muir. “The new model will respect their work todate and provide for continued success.” The South Shore, Tri-County and Strait boards have all asked torevert to regional board status, but agreement about the newadministrative structure how, the new boards will operate hasonly been reached with the Strait board. Discussions continue with the Tri-County and South Shore boards.Representatives of these school boards and senior staff from theDepartment of Education have met many times over the past fourmonths to explore how to best establish a regional board withoutadding additional administrative costs that could divert fundingfrom the classroom. The meetings were the opportunity for theboards to contribute to new governance structures that would besustainable over time. A shared services model was discussed. “We know that shared services will work in the South Shore, butwe’re not satisfied that the proposals we’ve seen will protectresources for the classroom,” said Mr Muir. “There is more workto be done.” The department’s analysis found that the proposals from the Tri-County and South Shore school boards were not sustainable and hadinsufficient support services for information technology, humanresources and finance. The omissions would have a negative impacton the delivery of education programs to students and supportservices to staff. For example, the most recent proposal from the boards for twofull-service models, showed a need for at least $700,000 inadditional operational costs to make it sustainable and providenecessary support services. The department was concerned this shortfall in funding couldtranslate into salaries for at least 12 teachers. In addition,about $300,000 in one-time transition costs were not consideredand seven jobs could have been eliminated in the South Shoreoffice. The proposal did not include a plan to place these staffelsewhere. This proposal was not accepted. The department intends to work closely with the South Shore andTri-County boards to help them develop shared services that willbe effective and have the proper accountabilities in place. Partof the discussion will include reviewing shared service models inother organizations. “The department shares responsibility with the school boards tomake the new governance model work,” said Mr. Muir. “We will worktogether to ensure a smooth transition for students, staff,parents and others.” Meetings with the Tri County and South Shore boardrepresentatives will continue in the coming weeks.