SUTHERLANDS RIVER – Parents of students at East Pictou Middle School don’t want to see their children shipped all over the county.
That’s the conclusion that came out of a public meeting at East Pictou Tuesday night.
The meeting is part of the school review process, which requires the school’s study committee to receive public comments in response to the school board’s Impact Assessment Report.
“Psychologically, these kids need to stay together,” Tom Makin said.
Three options are potentially on the table for the students: remain at East Pictou Middle School, split up into five different schools in the county or consolidate with Frank H. MacDonald Elementary.
The third option was the one many parents and attendees at the meeting want to see happen.
A meeting was held on Nov. 20 concerning the possible combination of Grade 9 students from East Pictou, Trenton Middle School and Thorburn Consolidated to North Nova Education Centre, starting in September 2014.
If the consolidation were to go through, it would leave only grades 7 and 8 at East Pictou next year.
Eliza Abbass, a parent of children at Frank H. MacDonald, thinks it would be better to have students stay at East Pictou for a year or two while Frank H. MacDonald is renovated to accommodate the other grades.
“I’m anxious about my kids,” she said, adding that the unknown variables make her nervous.
She wanted to know more about when the children would be moving if the third option was chosen, and what renovations would be done.
She wasn’t the only parent who wanted to know more about the specifics.
However, those decisions can’t be made until after the school board figures out which option they’re going to choose.
“I want to see this consolidation happen sooner rather than later,” Brian MacLeod said.
MacLeod said he understands old schools like East Pictou are nostalgic, but he’s more concerned about supporting students than saving buildings.
Regardless of when they move, many parents wanted to make sure the students wouldn’t miss out on any curriculum.
There were also concerns if the students were to remain at East Pictou without the Grade 9 students that staff numbers would decrease.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development recently released a discussion paper as part of their study of the school review process.
The report doesn’t make specific recommendations, but it does look to areas where the process could be improved.
One of those topics is flexibility.
“There may be situations where a drawn-out school review process may be unnecessary,” the report reads.
One of their questions is whether a more flexible process would result in better outcomes.
This is the second review the school has undergone. The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board agreed to consider the option the community put forward at a meeting in March last year, which was to consolidate with Frank H. MacDonald.
To examine this possibility, they were required to start the process over.
The school board has to make the final decision about East Pictou by March 31.
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