Today, CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh said the Minister of Education must follow through on her year-old approval of the Hub School Model.

“CUPE Nova Scotia has supported using school buildings in non-traditional ways as an alternative to school closures for a number of years,” Cavanagh said. “A little outside-the-box thinking never hurts, and we have lots to offer on ideas for Hub Schools.”

Cavanagh was responding to comments by Bob Fowler, the former deputy minister who authored a school-review study for the Education Department and who criticized the Nova Scotia government yesterday for failing to build Hub Schools.

Last year, CUPE’s submission to the School Review Process Consultation advocated for underutilized space in school buildings to be used for badly-needed early learning and childcare. Using school buildings to invest in publicly-funded and operated early learning and childcare centres would benefit children, parents and local economies.

“Imagine if we developed public spaces in the communities like Maitland, River John, and Wentworth,” Cavanagh said. “They would give a hand up, not just to community groups but to the community at large.”

“The Minister must take a serious look at the plan if we are going to do things differently - and if we truly want to build good economies in small communities,” Cavanagh said. Cavanagh stressed the need to ensure that any partnerships involving schools should exclude private, for-profit companies.

“The opportunity to share space in public schools should be limited to those organizations that share the school boards’ mission of public service,” he said. “We don’t want to open the door to fast food restaurants attached to our children’s schools.”

A report commissioned for CUPE by highly-respected economist Robert Fairholm suggested that investing in early learning and childcare would provide the strongest economic boost in terms of jobs and economic growth for Nova Scotia, significantly higher than other sectors.

“Opening up early learning and child care centres in community hub schools would pay for itself in terms of increased revenues for governments from the additional jobs and add two per cent to the provincial GDP,” Cavanagh said. “The provincial government must not just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk,” Cavanagh said.