Junction Road, West End-Memorial put up for closure review
While they are up for review, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board has no plans to close Springhill's elementary schools unless a new school is built in the community.
TRURO – The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board has no plans to close elementary schools in Springhill unless it gets a new one to take their place, says the board’s director of communications.
The school put 12 new schools up for review last week, including both Junction Road Elementary and West End-Memorial Elementary School, but Debbie Buott-Matheson said it is also asking the province to build a new school for Springhill’s elementary students.
“Our wish is to consolidate those schools into one school in the community. That will only go forward if the Department of Education supports the capital construction bid,” Buott-Matheson said Thursday.
For several years the board has expressed an interest in building a new elementary school in Springhill, but it hasn’t made it very far on the province’s priority list.
Buott-Matheson said the board has noticed that new school projects that replace two or more existing schools seem to move faster through the priority list. For this reason, it’s starting the closure review process for the two schools and tying it to its application for capital projects for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Part of the process of building a new school is conducting a closure review on the existing schools, she said.
“We’re tying them together,” she said. “To have our application in for the 2014-15 year, we had to have the schools identified for review by the first of this month.”
Buott-Matheson admits school reviews always make people wary but she said the board wants to reassure Springhill residents there is no plan to close any schools in that community and bus students elsewhere.
“We will not close the schools and bus students elsewhere. That’s not the plan,” she said. “They will only go forward if the Department of Education has the funding to build a new school in the community.”
The board identified the 12 schools for review at the same March 20 meeting that it decided to close one school and give Wentworth until 2014 and Maitland and River John until 2015 to bring forward the business case to reduce operating expenses or face closure.
Under legislation, the board must complete assessments of the 12 schools by the end of September, after which it must hold public consultations by February 2014. After more public consultations, it must make a decision on the schools by next March.
Schools up for review:
Cobequid District Elementary in Noel
Hants North Rural High in Kennetcook
Kennetcook District Elementary in Kennetcook
Highlands Consolidated Middle School in Westville
North Colchester High School in Tatamagouche
Tatamagouche Elementary in Tatatmagouche
Rawdon District Elementary in Upper Rawdon
Thorburn Consolidated in Thorburn
Trenton Elementary in Trenton
Trenton Middle School in Trenton
Junction Road Elementary in Springhill
West End-Memorial Elementary in Springhill