New elementary school
By Tina Comeau
A newly constructed elementary school for Yarmouth is included on the list of school capital construction projects that has been announced by the province.
The province has included five new schools on the list, which it says is part of the province’s capital plan for 2014-15. In the case of the Yarmouth elementary school, which has an estimated cost of $10 million attached to it, Department of Education spokesperson Michelle Lucas says the target opening is for 2018.
She also said a number of things have to happen before construction of the school can be begin, the most important aspect being site selection, which is carried out by the school board with the sites submitted to the province for final approval.
The department says the size and capacity of the new school will be determined during discussions with the board during the design phase.
The province's education capital plan calls for building new schools, renovating and improving 18 others, purchasing 70 new buses and reducing energy use in schools.
The five new schools announced by the province include:
• Yarmouth (elementary)
• Bridgetown (grades Primary-12)
• Sheet Harbour (P-12)
• South-end Halifax (elementary)
• Tatamagouche (P-12)
The Tri-County Regional School Board submitted a requested for a new or retrofitted elementary school, which is required to house students when the school board closes Central and South Centennial schools. There has been discussion in the past around the board table of possibly incorporating the gymnasium at the former Yarmouth Junior High School into the configuration of a new elementary school.
The school board voted in March to close Central and South Centennial schools. The decision for the future closures came at the conclusion of a school review process. The closures hinge on a new school to house students.
During the school review process there was no opposition to closing Central School as students, staff and parents look forward to more modern facilities. While South Centennial staff, students and parents would also like to benefit from more modern facilities, they didn't want to see their school closed, preferring, instead, to see renovations made to their existing school.
The school board has also voted to close Arcadia Consolidated School. That elementary school is slated to close at the end of June. As things stand, there is a list of proposed school boundaries that school board members will vote on at a Jan. 7 board meeting. Those boundaries are aimed at addressing where students, displaced by the Arcadia Consolidated School closure, will attend class in elementary, junior and senior high school. The proposed boundaries spread the students out over a large number of schools.
A motion to delay the Arcadia Consolidated School closure is also expected to be brought forth at that meeting, following a notice of motion made by board member Ron Hines, who has said there is a lot of confusion over boundaries and that people have suggested that the board should wait until its known what students will attend the new elementary school. It's not known if Arcadia School students would be part of the mix.
School board chair Donna Tidd, who when contacted by the Vanguard on the morning of Dec. 23 had not yet seen the news release issued by the province that morning, said she figures this new school announcement will factor into the discussions at the board's Jan. 7 meeting.
It would be up to the school board to determine the catchment areas for the new elementary school.
Meanwhile, the province’s education minister says students will benefit from the capital construction that will take place.
"Our students need modern education facilities to prepare them to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs, innovators and skilled workers," says Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. "Under this plan, we are building and improving schools across the province and establishing four new skilled-trades centres to open that career path for students in those communities.
The province is setting up the new skilled trade centre at Avon View High School in Windsor, Dalbrae Academy in Mabou, Dr. J.H. Gillis High in Antigonish and Ecole Secondaire du Sommet in Halifax.
As well, major renovation projects include upgrading Park View Education Centre in Bridgewater and improving Wolfville School. Other projects include Dr. W.A. MacLeod in Riverton and Ecole acadienne de Truro.
The capital plan includes substantially increased funding for small capital projects, such as roof repairs and replacement windows, and second-year funding for an energy efficiency program that affects 90 Halifax Regional School Board schools.
Under the capital plan, the province will purchase and renovate a building in Sydney to serve as a bus maintenance facility for Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.