RIVER HEBERT – Cumberland South MLA and PC Party leader Jamie Baillie wants Education Minister Ramona Jennex to come to River Hebert to explain continued delays with the the stalled renovation project at the community’s high school.
“The news of further delays in the construction project at River Hebert High is unacceptable,” Baillie said Wednesday.
Baillie’s comments come after officials from the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and the Education Department confirmed there is a major issue with the second tender call that was announced last fall by Jennex.
Baillie said the minister and the head of the school board both should attend a public meeting at the school to explain why the project continues to be delayed and what’s going to be done to complete it.
“I want them to come to a public meeting at the school and see the conditions themselves,” Baillie said. “They need to hear directly from the residents.”
He said while delays are disappointing, lack of communication from the school board and the department is further fuelling frustration in the community.
Baillie said the NDP has mishandled the project and students are being forced to attend classes in a half-finished school.
“The community deserves to know what the problem is and when it will be fixed,” Baillie said. “The lack of information coming from the department and the board is making matters worse.”
Reached for comment later Wednesday, the minister said she was unaware the tender had not been called since renovation tenders are the responsibility of the school board.
“I’m surprised to hear about the issue with the school because it’s the school board’s project. We fund it, they built it,” Jennex said. “We build new schools, but renovation projects are the responsibility of the school board.”
Jennex said she is going to have officials from her department talk to the board to see if assistance is needed and she understand concerns raised by River Hebert area residents.
The community thought its wait for the project to be completed ended last fall when Jennex announced tenders would be called in November. The first tender on the school came in 45 per cent over budget and the province went to work with the contractor to overcome several issues.
Former advisory committee member John Reid said he believes the problem is the province hasn’t budgeted enough money for the project and he fears it’s only going to get more expensive the longer it’s stalled.