Accessibility issues at River Hebert District High will be addressed as part of a multi-million-dollar renovation project underway at the school.
AMHERST – Only one school in Cumberland County is not fully accessible, but will be once a multi-million-dollar renovation project is completed next spring in River Hebert.
Responding to a report from the Education and Early Childhood Development Department last week that 72 Nova Scotia schools are not accessible to students with mobility issues, Chignecto-Central Regional School Board spokeswoman Debbie Buott-Matheson said River Hebert District High is not full accessible.
“It’s a situation that will be rectified once the renovations are completed there in the spring,” Buott-Matheson said. “The newly renovated school will be fully accessible when the project is complete.”
In the entire Chignecto board, Buott-Matheson said five of 73 schools are not fully accessible. She said the situation has improved dramatically in recent years with the opening of several new schools across the board and the installation of elevators at several older schools, including West Highlands Elementary in Amherst.
She said the board’s goal is to have all its schools fully accessible as soon as possible.
In cases where a school is not fully accessible, every effort is made to accommodate mobility-challenged students. That could mean holding classes on the ground level of the building.
Most of the schools that aren’t fully accessible are in Halifax, where 45 of 137 schools have accessibility issues.
In River Hebert, the province awarded the $6.15-million tender in December for the renovations and addition to the school that will make it a Primary to Grade 12 facility. Renovations include updating the building and adding a two-storey addition. Improved areas include the library, cafeteria, music room, science labs, a youth health centre and new elementary classrooms.
Making the school fully accessible is part of the project.
The project was originally expected to be completed later this year, but the completion date has been pushed to next May.
On another note, the high school is now without a gymnasium. Buott-Matheson said officials from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal decided over the summer to demolish the existing gym. A new gym is part of the renovation project and she expects high school gym classes will be held in the elementary school on a temporary basis.