New teachers contract signed, made public | Education | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
From left, Steve Brooks, Executive Director, Nova Scotia Teachers Union; Ryan Lutes, President, Nova Scotia Teachers Union; Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development; and Elwin LeRoux, Deputy Minister, Education and Early Childhood Development at agreement signing on June 27.

New teachers contract signed, made public

Highlights include higher pay for subs, more marking and prep time, more school supports

School is out for the summer but the province has a lot of homework to get done in the next few months. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) ratified a new collective agreement back on April 26 with their employer, the minister of education and early childhood development (EECD), Becky Druhan.

On Thursday June 27, both parties signed the agreement and released it online. The NSTU represents roughly 10,000 public school teachers across the province.

Highlights include:

  • A salary increase of nearly 12% over three years, retroactive to Aug. 1, 2023.
  • A salary increase of 12% for substitute teachers as well as a quicker qualification period to becoming full-time teachers, which will now take them eight fewer days to complete.
  • An increase of time teachers have for marking and preparation. Starting Aug. 1, teachers will have a minimum of 15% of instructional time dedicated to this per semester/term.
  • An increase in school counsellors across the province.
  • A guarantee from the province that neither class sizes nor length of instructional day will grow for the next three years, under this contract.

Ahead of its public release, the new teachers agreement was brought up at the public accounts committee on June 19, which was convened to discuss the auditor general’s report on school violence. There, the deputy minister of the EECD, Elwin LeRoux, said the department is “hopeful that we can see some meaningful progress” by September on commitments made to teachers and educators, including:

  • “Significant new investments in supports:” which LeRoux says can be school counsellors, social workers or alternative “teacher-led initiatives.”
  • “Best use of educational assistants,” which LeRoux said includes “staffing levels and expanded responsibilities.”
  • Increased clarity and accountability on disciplinary action in schools, including suspensions. “It’s time to be clear, decisive, and serious about this in our provincial policies and direction,” said LeRoux. “We are serious about taking action.”

Currently, school disciplinary action is managed by vice-principals and principals, in tandem with regional supervisors, if applicable. These are not members of the NSTU.

The choices and actions these administrators follow on discipline is governed by the outdated Provincial School Code of Conduct. The auditor general’s report on school violence, released June 11, highlighted the repeated request by many for this policy to be reviewed and updated.

On June 19, LeRoux said the department has been directed to “accelerate timelines” on their response to the audit and its recommendations, including performing this update on the code.

LeRoux said a review of the code of conduct is currently “out for consultation with School Advisory Council [SAC] members, parents, staff, community members [and] students” for feedback.

SACs are a group of volunteers comprised of students, families, teachers and community members who are assigned to each school in an effort to fill the role of dissolved school boards along with Regional Education Centres (RCEs) and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP).

LeRoux said the department has set a deadline for a “near-draft policy for implementation” to be ready by the first ever meeting with all provincial SACs this Sept. 27.

Teachers, families, critics and department staff have said this is a big, overdue and necessary assignment that hopefully all education workers and administrators will be focusing their energy on this summer to achieve.

The NSTU said in a release May 22 that they will “continue the ongoing work of the Safe and Inclusive School’s Committee” with the EECD, which teachers and administrators are a part of.

Teaching assistants who are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) were not at the table at the June 19 meeting on school violence. They are currently bargaining for their own new collective agreement with the province.

Lauren Phillips, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Lauren Phillips is The Coast’s Education Reporter, a position created in September 2023 with support from the Local Journalism Initiative. Lauren studied journalism at the University of King’s College, and has written on education and sports at Dal News and Saint Mary's Athletics for over two years. She won gold...
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