Efforts to save Arcadia Consolidated School during a school review process by the Tri-County Regional School Board earlier this year didn't work, as the board voted to close the elementary school. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Boundary review follows March decision to close Arcadia Consolidated School at the end of the 2013-14 school year
By Tina Comeau
The public will have a chance to have its say on proposed school boundaries during a public consultation meeting being held by the Tri-County Regional School Board on Tuesday evening, Oct. 29.
Proposed are school boundary changes that could impact up to nine schools in Yarmouth County. For some schools it will mean increases or decreases in their student populations. For many students it would see them attending different schools than they traditionally would have.
The proposed boundaries have been drawn up by senior board staff following months of work, and were presented to board members at a meeting in early Octoer.
The public meeting will get underway at 6:30 p.m. at the Yarmouth high school on Forest Street. Those who will be most impacted by the proposed changes are the 186 students who attend Arcadia Consolidated School, which the school board has decided will close at the end of this school year, along with those who would have attended this school in the future.
The school board has to decide where these elementary students will attend school starting in September. The proposed boundaries call for these students to be divided up amongst Plymouth, Central, Meadowfields and Drumlin schools. Dividing the students up amongst several schools was not one of the options the board presented to the public when it conducted a school review involving this elementary school during the last school year.
The board is also looking at adjusting the boundaries of where some junior and senior high school students would attend school. Grade 6 students at Arcadia School who would have gone to Maple Grove next year would instead be divided up between that school and Drumlin Heights. Some of these students would also no longer attend Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School in the future. Some students leaving Maple Grove after Grade 8, who live in areas affected by certain boundaries changes, would also be expected to attend Drumlin.
Students already enrolled in the Yarmouth high school as of this school year would be grandfathered there until they graduate. Students in Grade 7 at Maple Grove this year would be grandfathered at that school for Grade 8.
The school board’s decision to close Arcadia Consolidated School is what is largely driving the need for the school board to be looking at school boundaries at this time.
At Arcadia Consolidated School, coming on the heels of an emotional school review process in the last school year, this boundaries review is causing anxiety for students, staff and families.
“Many are now worried about where they will be forced to attend school and how long they will have to travel to get there. They are expressing concern over where their teachers will be working,” Irene White, the chair of the Arcadia School Advisory Council writes in a letter. “Parents are indicating that their children are very upset at home and are very angry over this review. The clear indication is that this school is being closed without any forethought to ramifications long term and without consideration for the emotional impact on students, families, and the community.”
White says students, already impacted by the decision to close the elementary school this year, now worry about being separated from their classmates, friends and teachers. And teachers don’t know where they’ll be working next year. She said the school board has created a “crippling work environment” for Arcadia Consolidated School.
The school board says the schools accepting new students all have the space to accommodate them according to how boundaries have been proposed by board staff.
There are cases, however, where students would have to travel a considerable further distance on buses to attend school.
At a previous school board meeting, board superintendent Lisa Doucet stressed at this stage the new boundaries are only in the proposal stage and the board wants to receive input from the public.
In addition to the Oct. 29 meeting, people have the option of sending letters or emails to the school board to share their views. The board has selected Nov. 19 as the proposed deadline to receive public feedback.
At a special board meeting on Dec. 12 senior staff will present their findings and recommendations to the board.
On Jan. 7, at its monthly meeting, the board will make a decision on school boundaries.
NOTE: You can also read Vanguard associate editor Tina Comeau's weekly column, which is on the issue of the boundaries review and was published in our Oct. 29 issue, by clicking here.