Springhill’s proposed new elementary school is still on track for a September 2021 opening.
Speaking to the Amherst News on June 28, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Zach Churchill said the school, promised during last spring’s provincial byelection campaign, will be built on a piece of land adjacent to the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre.
“That’s the area the community told us where they want the school to be built and there’s a lot of interest in linking up to the community centre,” the minister said. “There was some additional geotechnical work that needed to be done because of the location of the old mine shafts, but that work is complete and we’re still on the timeline to open that school in 2021.”
In April 2018, Churchill announced Springhill would be one of 13 communities to get a new school or major school renovation over a five-year period. The new school in Springhill will replace two aging facilities in Junction Road Elementary and West End-Memorial Elementary.
Both schools have been a source of frustration for parents, students and staff due to leaking roofs and other building issues.
Earlier in the day, Cumberland South MLA Tory Rushton joined with Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d’Entremont to remind the minister of commitments to build schools in Springhill and Wedgeport by September 2021.
Rushton said the Springhill project had become a political football. The project was announced as the byelection campaign was beginning a little more than a year ago, but he said plans have sputtered since then.
“I don’t want the Springhill elementary to be another election promise in two years,” said Rushton. “I want the government to fulfill their promise from the last election.”
Rushton has regularly written the minister for updates. Last month, Rushton said, the minister said issues with the potential site of the school have arisen and a structural engineering consultant was being brought in to advise.
“Please note if the community centre site proves unsuitable, government will consider other sites within Springhill for the location of the new school,” the minister wrote Rushton.
Rushton hopes this doesn’t put the project back to square one.
“Springhill families have waited a long time for this school,” Rushton said, adding he’s willing to work with the minister. “I am asking the minister to reassure the students, parents and teachers that the plan is not stalled.”
Rushton said the community has been promised the school for a long time, adding it was at the top of the former Chignecto-Central Regional School Board’s priority list in 2012-13, but was taken off so two other schools could be built.
Churchill said there are no delays and the project has not sputtered.
“The plan has not changed. Yes, there was some additional geotechnical work required, but we’re still on track to get the school open up on time as we committed,” Churchill said.