Last January, seven teachers from Nova Scotia’s Chignecto-Central Regional School Board flew to Hawaii to attend a four-day professional-development conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.
The post-Christmas trip, right in the midst of a work-to-rule campaign during the contract dispute with the provincial government, was partially paid for by taxpayers out of the board’s $1.1-million professional development fund.
Later this month, five of those seven teachers plan to retire, CBC News has learned.
The details of the trip to the 16th annual Hawaii International Conference on Education were first reported by CBC News in January, travel that was heavily criticized by then-education minister Karen Casey.
But the fact that five of the teachers who attended the conference have now given notice they will soon be out the door is raising questions about how the school board approved the travel and whether impending retirement should be a factor.
“It does seem odd that you would be putting a lot of money into professional development for people who were right on the cusp of retirement,” said Robert Berard, a director with Mount Saint Vincent University’s faculty of education.
Berard said with demands high and money tight, administrators need to seek maximum impact for the dollars they spend.
“If you’re trying to manage a relatively limited amount of travel money you should at least have an idea of what the person is doing, could be doing and again how it will benefit the board,” he said.
Each teacher entitled to $1,850
Every teacher in the Chignecto board is entitled to a maximum of $1,850 every two years from the professional development fund. This covers conference registration, hotel, airfare and baggage fees, ground transportation and meals. Teachers take the trips when school is in and the province…