Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter gets into brief heated ex­change with Op­po­si­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY DAVE STEWART THE GUARDIAN dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

The Op­po­si­tion con­tends that school en­rol­ment is go­ing up in Septem­ber, not down.

It also points out that the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion is re­duc­ing the num­ber of ed­u­ca­tion as­sis­tants in the sys­tem, but the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the depart­ment de­nies that.

Once again, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Hal Perry found him­self in the crosshairs of the Tory party in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod on Thurs­day.

The de­bate on the is­sue got heated briefly to­wards the end.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Steven My­ers says the min­is­ter ini­tially told the house that en­rol­ment was pro­jected to de­cline about 300 stu­dents for this Septem­ber.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to their in­for­ma­tion, it will in­crease - from 19,007 to 19,139.

“I don’t ex­pect that your math is any bet­ter than the premier’s but to me that num­ber sounds like 132 to the plus,’’ My­ers said.

Perry said en­rol­ment has been on the de­cline for the past 20 years with about 6,000 fewer stu­dents in the sys­tem.

“If we have a pro­jected en­rol­ment (in­crease) this fall of 120 or 130 or what­ever it is, that’s good news for our Is­land schools. That’s good news for our pop­u­la­tion on Prince Ed­ward Is­land,’’ Perry said.

My­ers then asked Perry to jus­tify why he’s cut­ting teacher po­si­tions if en­rol­ment is in­creas­ing.

Perry said his depart­ment is in the process of con­firm­ing My­ers’ en­rol­ment num­bers.

“These num­bers were given just in the last few days from prin­ci­pals and it’s good tim­ing be­cause we are re­view­ing the re­duc­tions in the teach­ers,’’ Perry said.

Later, Op­po­si­tion MLA Brad Trivers said they’re hear­ing from a num­ber of schools that the lev­els of EAs are be­ing re­duced through po­si­tions and hours.

“West Kent Ele­men­tary School is be­ing cut from six EAs to three EAs and of the three left, two of them are hav­ing their hours cut,’’ Trivers said to Perry.

“Shame, shame,’’ Op­po­si­tion MLA Colin LaVie said, chim­ing in.

“Cardi­gan school, the EAs are be­ing cut by eight hours, an equiv­a­lent of 1.2 po­si­tions,’’ Trivers said.

Perry said those de­ci­sions are made by the school board and that EAs are of­ten moved around to dif­fer­ent schools.

Perry then took the Op­po­si­tion to task for its tone on the is­sue of teach­ing po­si­tions.

“The Op­po­si­tion has re­ally dragged the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem through the mud. I think that’s a re­flec­tion on our teach­ers and I think that’s very dis­re­spect­ful and they should be . . .’’

Be­fore Perry could con­tinue My­ers in­ter­rupted him.

“You’re the laugh­ing­stock of Prince Ed­ward Is­land. I don’t know how you look in the mir­ror in the morn­ing,’’ My­ers said loudly.

That set off a se­ries of loud but in­audi­ble ex­changes.

Buck Watts, Speaker of the house, slammed his gavel down, declar­ing “Or­der, please.’’

Perry then ac­cused the Op­po­si­tion of fo­cus­ing on “doom and gloom’’ be­fore ques­tion pe­riod came to an end.

GUARDIAN PHOTO

Op­po­si­tion MLA Brad Trivers is seen at the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture this week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.