By Lawrence Powell
Residents of Bridgetown and area are anxious to get to work on selecting site options and helping design the new $24-million P-12 school that will replace Bridgetown Regional High School and Bridgetown Regional Elementary School. The new school has announced just before Christmas and as yet, little information is known.
The site selection process and design are expected to begin in April.
But BRES SAC member Nancy Price is pleased about the Department of Education’s decision to build a new school instead of revamping the 60-year-old BRHS to fit students from Primary to Grade 12.
“We are very excited,” said Price. “It feels like all the work -- people listened to us. It was a combination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. We were hoping against hope.”
Price noted that two other Primary to Grade 12 schools were also announced in the province, and she thought that will afford the opportunity for Bridgetown to share information with groups in those communities.
Price said the committee looking at renovating Bridgetown Regional High School to become a P-12 school eventually realized BRHS really couldn’t be renovated to that purpose and trying to do so would cost more money than a new school.
The road to the new school announcement started about five years ago at a meeting in Lawrencetown when the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board told residents declining enrollments in Annapolis County were forcing them to look at options such as school closures and consolidations.
Price said one journey is now over and another journey is just beginning.
Nobody has talked about sites yet, said Price.
Art Marshall was also on the committee that was tasked with revamping BRHS. But about a year ago a steering committee was struck that met with consultants in an effort to come up with reconfiguration designs. Four plans were made but the more they got into looking at the plans they realized it was not easy to do and very expensive. Marshall said if the renovations were done they’d still have a 60-year old skeleton. He said the group concluded that renovating BRHS didn’t make sense and recommended to the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board that they reverse their plans to renovate and opt for a new school.
Marshall said the steering committee is sitting on hold and he anticipates it will be called back together.
Like Price, Marshall was pleased with the new-school announcement.
“We didn’t know how this was going to go when the government fell and the election was called,” he said. “I had a hunch we were not very far up the list.”
Now that the announcement has been made, Marshall is hoping a meeting will be called and they’ll be able to sit down with somebody at the school board level. He also noted that the town will have to become involved in site selection.
Marshall said long-term viability and the least impact on existing classes must be considered in site selection considerations. He said rebuilding on the current BRHS site would be too disruptive. But he supports a site in the town. He said the perception is that the school will be where children can walk to school safely.
“There are some sites within the town that would do that,” he said. “That’s my point of view as a citizen, a parent, and grandparent.”
A site selection committee must come up with three options to present.