Mayor calling for support at Oct. 16 community/board meeting
By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
Lockeport Mayor Darian Huskilson.
Two Lockeport schools are being challenged due to falling enrollment, despite a study advising the schools not to be considered for review.
A meeting to discuss the future of Lockeport Regional High and Lockeport Elementary Schools is planned for this Wednesday Oct. 16th at 6:30 p.m. in the gym at LRHS.
The mayor for the town, Darian Huskilson, has asked anyone in the Lockeport and surrounding communities who care about the future of the schools to stand up and defend the school Wednesday, armed with placards in protest to the Tri-County Regional School Board (TCRSB).
“There is no chance in hell we are going to sit quietly,” said Huskilson. “No way is the community going to allow this to take place.”
While the TCRSB is only going to the school to discuss options, declining enrollment the schools is as high as 33 percent.
Currently, the elementary school has a total of 99 students in the P to six school, with a 33 percent decline in the past five years. The high school has just 124 students, with a 25 percent decline and a projected further decline of 25 percent over the next five years.
‘With a student population decline of this magnitude the Tri-County Regional School Board will be increasingly challenged to offer the core requirements of the Provincial School Programming (PSP) enhancements,” wrote the school board in an agenda. “(These) are more effectively offered at schools with larger student populations due to factors such as teacher specialization, scheduling flexibility and class size.’
The board has proposed five various options for the schools to be discussed at the upcoming meeting.
To maintain the status quo, Lockeport high become a P to 12 school, Lockeport High become a P to 9 with grade 10 to 12 students moving to Shelburne Regional High School (SRHS), Lockeport become a P to 6 school with the grade 7 to 12 students moving to SRHS or Lockeport High becoming a P to 8 with the grade 9 to 12 students moving to SHRS.
‘Once options are formally defined and if status quo cannot be sustained then further research will be required to determine necessary next steps in the process,’ read the TCRSB agenda.
In 2010, an extensive study by Gunn’s Leadership Consulting Services, suggested to the TCRSB that they not amalgamate the high school with SRHS.
‘Presently, there is no evidence that the courses and services are not being delivered as they should be and by a well-qualified teaching staff,’ read the study. ‘There may come a time and urgency when a very small high school enrolment forces a careful consideration of amalgamating LRHS with SHRS. This is not the time nor is there any urgency…it would be untimely and detrimental to recommend that amalgamation be considered now.’
Just three years later, the school is under the microscope for review again.
“There is much more than education to be considered,” said Huskilson. “In a setting like this the schools are the heart of the community. It is our culture, economy and identity.”
Huskilson wants the school board to do the right thing and keep the status quo.
“I will be doing everything in my power to make sure the school board gets the message strong and clear,” he said.
He said that if governments don’t start investing in rural communities, people would have no choice but to move to bigger city centres.
“Why should a small community fight for their quality of life and services,” he said.
“Rather than cutting programs, government needs to figure out how to stop declining population in rural towns.”
“I don’t care if there are five graduating students in future classes,” said Huskilson. “I will fight to keep the high school open because that is our right.”