Good morning members of the media and thank you coming.
In recent weeks, I’ve received numerous questions surrounding the vacant position of Commissioner of Education and as I’ve repeatedly stated, as the Minister responsible for Education, operational and personnel placements are not under my direct remit.
What I can do is assure students, parents, teachers, staff and principals that the Department of Education is in every school, on any given day, providing our students with quality teaching and instruction.
As I make this assurance, I do so knowing that while the position of Commissioner has been vacant… the work has continued. The Ministry and the Department, as well school Principals and administrators are making sure all educational requirements are met, and the work is progressing as set out at the commencement of the school year.
To assist with the progress that is happening in our schools, Mrs. Kalmar Richards has been asked to act, in this interim period, as Commissioner of Education. I pleased to learn that she willingly accepted and will start on Monday, December 11th.
Mrs. Richards is no stranger to us or to our community. For the past 20 years she has provided exemplary leadership and stewardship as principal at Cedarbridge Academy.
Mrs. Richards is respected by her peers, parents and students and known as caring and firm. She is a leader that believes in change and making a positive impact in our community. We are very appreciative that she has agreed to this assignment. I look forward to working with Mrs. Richards as she steps in to lead and support the exciting developments taking place in public education.
Mrs. Richards will serve in the position until a new Commissioner of Education is hired. The next step will be for the Board of Education to begin the search for a suitable candidate. The Board of Education is responsible for advertising, interviewing and selecting of a candidate for referral to the Public Service Commission for final approval.
As I announced last week the Ministry, the Department and the Board of Education have completed the community driven multi-year strategic Plan 2022 which is available for public review on our website. This is extremely focused report with benchmarks and measurable outcomes. Implementation will begin in January 2018. Plan 2022 was led by Lisa Smith and a team at the Department of Education. Mrs. Smith was seconded to the Department from Harrington Sound Primary School in 2016 and will continue to lead the implementation of the Plan 2022, along with the Acting Commissioner and Department of Education team.
As I stated in Parliament last week, this Plan will not sit on the shelf. It will be implemented because we are accountable to our students and to all those who supported the design and drafting of Plan 2022. We received such positive and honest input from community groups, churches, former educators, current teachers, union stakeholders, parents and students. We are accountable to all those who helped us get here, we all have a stake in this. The Department of Education is ready to begin the implementation and I am pleased to learn that steps are being taken and recruitment has begun to have all the necessary staff in place to carry out the objectives set forth in Plan 2022.
Before I take your questions, I’d like to take the opportunity to once again thank the Ministry and Department of Education for staying the course and working every day to give our students the very best education. We have some exciting developments happening and major individual and collective accomplishments. We will keep the momentum going and it will continue.
The Ministry of Health is seeking your views on the proposed Sugar Tax and changes to the Mental Health Act. You will find the consultation documents and online feedback forms here.