The province plans to provide Nova Scotia’s elected school boards with more options to better govern the conduct of members. The Department of Education is proposing legislative changes that will allow a broader range of disciplinary measures while ensuring all school board members have access to a fair and transparent appeal process. The changes to the Education Act, if adopted, will also set out clear guidelines and expectations for elected board members and board meetings. “Effective school board governance is about ensuring our elected school boards can better meet their responsibilities for the management of our public schools,” said Education Minister Karen Casey. “We want to make sure that resources are well-managed, relationships are respectful and the best interests of our students are always paramount in all decisions.” Consultation on the proposals is being launched today, July 31. Written submissions from partners and members of the public will be accepted until Aug. 22. The input will be used to prepare new legislation. Among the recommendations of a government discussion paper are: Ms. Casey promised changes after disbanding two dysfunctional school boards, Halifax Regional School Board in 2006 and Strait Regional School Board this year. She intends to introduce the proposed legislation in the fall sitting of the legislature. School board elections will be held Oct. 18, with nominations closing Sept. 9. The discussion document is available online at the Department of Education website: www.ednet.ns.ca . Comments can be submitted by e-mailing [email protected], writing School Board Effective Governance Review, Nova Scotia Department of Education, Corporate Policy Branch, P.O. Box 578, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2S9 or faxing 902-424-0519. Every school board member takes an oath of office and pledges to abide by a code of ethics; School boards have the authority to censure individual board members, with penalties that can include a public reprimand, suspension from the board or a recommendation to the minister to vacate a member’s seat; A censured member has the right of appeal to a one-person adjudicator; The minister has the authority to appoint one or more people to replace an entire board; Remove the requirement to fill a vacant seat by a byelection; If a seat will be vacant for more than six months before the next election, the minister may appoint a replacement from the geographic or representational area; and The term of school board chair be extended to two years from one.