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Nova Scotia appoints new 14-member committee on classroom conditions

The Nova Scotia government has announced the members of a new committee that will look into improving conditions in the province’s public school classrooms.

The Nova Scotia government has announced the members of a new committee that will look into improving conditions in the province's public school classrooms.

In all, 14 people are expected to take part on the committee, which was promised by the provincial government during a protracted labour dispute with Nova Scotia's 9,600 teachers.

Last month, the Liberal majority government passed legislation to impose a contract on the teachers, ending a 16-month dispute that largely focused on classroom conditions and problems with including special needs students in the classroom.

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The teachers held a one-day strike Feb. 21 to protest the legislation. It was the first time in the union's 122-year history that members had walked off the job.

The members of the new Council to Improve Classroom Conditions include nine classroom teachers, chosen by school board superintendents.

As well, 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.

"The council is a first for our province," said Education Minister Karen Casey. "It reflects the perspectives of those most involved in the education system – teachers, parents and students. Meaningful change cannot happen without their input and guidance."

The council, which will first meet March 21, has a $20-million budget that is expected to be spent over two years, with its initial recommendations expected no later than April 28.

"We continue to have questions about how this council will operate moving forward," said NSTU president Liette Doucet. "Will the meetings be held in public? Will the meeting minutes be published? If a member disagrees with a decision of the council, will there be a mechanism to register a dissenting opinion?"

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