HALIFAX -- A teacher on a new committee examining ways to improve classroom conditions in Nova Scotia's public schools said progress is being made after an initial three days of talks that concluded Thursday following 25 hours of discussions.
Michael Cosgrove, an English teacher at Dartmouth High School, was one of nine teachers on the 14-member Council to Improve Classroom conditions. He said he was impressed by the depth of professional knowledge that was on display and he now believes the council idea can work.
"I went into it with a healthy amount of skepticism, but also an open mind," said Cosgrove. "I guess ultimately time will tell and the teachers, the students and parents will be the judge of it."
He said teachers put forward 18 recommendations and made immediate progress on issues around student attendance policies, evaluations and the data software used by teachers, including PowerSchool and TIENET.
Cosgrove said he believes there is time to address a number of issues before an initial report, which is due by April 28.
"It's an aggressive schedule, but I think we are on task and we got a lot done and there are more meetings to come before our initial recommendations get finalized," he said.
Four more meetings are scheduled for April.
The council was struck following a protracted labour dispute that saw the province impose a contract on more than 9,000 unionized teachers. It has a $20-million budget that is expected to be spent over two years.
In addition to the teachers, the council includes a student, parent and guidance counsellor appointed by the province, as well as co-chairs from the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
Almost 800 teachers applied to serve on the council following the end of the 16-month contract dispute.