Education Minister and Carleton MLA’s year-end reflections

by | Jan 17, 2024

Bill Hogan looks back at 2023, and forward to 2024

Before the New Year, the River Valley Sun reached out to elected officials in our coverage area to reflect on the past year and look at plans and challenges for the coming year. 

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister and Carleton MLA Bill Hogan responded to our emailed questions with an overview divided into sections. 

The River Valley Sun posed the following questions for the minister. 

1 – What do you see as your most significant accomplishment this year?

2 – What do you think is your department’s greatest challenge?

3 – What do you believe is your riding’s greatest challenge?

4 – Education in New Brunswick is in turmoil. We have some of the lowest math and English scores in Canada. Our schools are understaffed. There is a lack of support staff, specifically school psychologists. There is a lack of classroom space, and you are facing Supreme Court challenges related to your government’s Policy 713. Where do you start in addressing these problems in 2024?

5 – Communities in your riding want fiscal reform to provide financial security to municipalities. You were a two-term councillor for the Town of Woodstock, so you understand both sides. What do you believe needs to happen related to provincial funding of municipal governments?

The minister responded as follows:

“This past year has certainly been interesting. In our riding, we continue to address road conditions, homelessness, growing businesses and meeting the variety of individual needs who contact our office.

“We have and will continue to have many successes in EECD.”

Infrastructure

“I announced a new kindergarten to Grade 8 school for the Carleton area. The site selection is well underway. Construction is anticipated to start in winter 2024 or spring 2025.

“The 2024-25 Capital Budget of $187.4 million for EECD includes six new school projects to address enrollment growth and aging infrastructure.”

Healthy Food in Schools

“This academic year, through an expanded partnership with Food Depot Alimentaire, 42 additional schools across the province’s seven school districts will be supplied with healthy foods thanks to an investment of $2 million.”

New Centre of Excellence Launched

“We launched a new Centre of Excellence in Skilled Trades and Manufacturing this fall. This will provide students with hands-on skills in these areas prior to graduation.”

Improvements for Anglophone Education System

“Following consultations on improvements that could be made to French language learning, an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) was established and was co-chaired by the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association. 

“The ESC was informed by the efforts of two working groups – one targeting improved French language learning, and the other examining improvements to the English Prime program. These groups engaged many key partners in education through May and early June 2023 and submitted recommendations to the Executive Steering Committee. The near-term recommendations report was published in July 2023.

“The actions related to these near-term recommendations were all initiated in September 2023. 

“A few highlights:

  • All of the Behavioural Intervention Mentor positions are filled.
  • Many of the Academic Support Teacher positions for numeracy and literacy are filled.
  • A new Centre of Excellence for Language Learning is in development and will launch later in the new year. The Centre will set out to improve access to culturally and authentic French language learning resources, create an innovation network of educators and experts in language learning and expand learning opportunities for students and educators.

“The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, school districts and key partners will continue to work together to support a successful implementation of these near-term recommendations.

“In November 2023, the ESC presented a set of long-term recommendations in a report to the government that built on the near-term recommendations and the efforts already underway to improve the anglophone education system.

“We will release a detailed scope, implementation plan and accountability framework for each of the recommendations by March 31, 2024.” 

Child-care space creation

“We recently launched an open call for proposals to accelerate the creation of designated preschool early learning and child care spaces in the province.”

Year ahead

“In the year ahead, I look forward to beginning to implement the long-term recommendations for the Anglophone sector, 2024-25 Capital Budget projects begin to take off, and having more child care spaces created through our open call for proposals.”

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