Superintendent Geoff Cainen said he hopes the meetings will mark the beginning of improved engagement with schools and the communities they serve.
"My hope is that we'll start building much stronger relationships," he
stressed they are "just one piece of the puzzle" on the path to regaining community trust.
"I think we need to continue to keep public education front and centre," Cainen
In addition to criticism from school advisory councils, Cainen
said, "I'm also hearing from community members who are saying the only time we see staff in the community is when there's bad news to deliver, when we want to close a school."
While a sense of distrust is not unique to the South Shore, its recent past didn't help, he
Meeting with communities now "is a good ... opportunity to talk to each other without that threat of closure hanging over people's heads," he
"I think it's incumbent upon us to provide that information," Cainen
The meetings will allow parents and community members to ask questions and to understand the constraints boards face within the context of the demands placed upon them, he
They will also give the board a sense of direction as it builds its business plan and strategy for the future, he
said the board already held a meeting in New Ross where it tried a fresh approach to helping the school meet its full potential.
A request last year for funding to do alterations to the school was turned down by the province.
However, the board is reapplying, but this time it's working with the community, including the New Ross Regional Development Society
, Ross Farm Museum
and the school advisory council, to build a business case to present to the province.
said it is clear communities and municipal governments want to be involved with how their schools are run and the programs they offer.