A petition calling for the construction of a new elementary school for Wedgeport has been tabled in the legislation but more so than the names on the petition it’s the condition of the school that really speaks for itself.
Parent Kelley LeBlanc, who speaks for the committee pushing for a new school, hopes the government will recognize the need.
Asked about what the pressing issues are with the school, LeBlanc said it is becoming an endless list.
“Leaky and bursting pipes. There was one pipe that (recently) busted,” she said, noting this displaced students within the school.
“One of our biggest concerns as a committee as well is the parking situation and the proximity of all the doors to the parking and turnaround area and the safety for the children,” she added.
And the concerns aren’t just physical. It's also about what a school does for a community.
“It attracts parents, it attracts people, it attracts businesses, it creates jobs. The main one for us is we are afraid of losing our French language and the culture and the school will make sure that doesn’t happen,” LeBlanc said. “A school falling in shambles doesn’t attract parents to stay in Wedgeport.”
LeBlanc says there are lots of schools in the province that need repair and probably many of them, condition wise, are similar to Wedgeport.
“But we are a French-Acadian village in Nova Scotia and we can’t lose that,” she said. “That is so important to Wedgeport.”
Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d’Entremont presented the petition, that had 150 signatures, in the Nova Scotia Legislature on Oct. 24. He said concern about the school far exceeds the numbers of signatures that were collected.
“They hadn't had a lot of time to collect signatures but I felt that since the House was coming to an end, I wanted to get the petition in and if more signatures come along I’ll table it again,” he said.
D’Entremont said he’s feeling very optimistic about a new school. He notes that Yarmouth MLA and Education Minister Zach LeBlanc is very familiar with the need for a new school.
He was given a tour of the school in the summer to see its condition and Kelley LeBlanc said he was supportive of the issue of a new school.
“I feel hopeful that it will come,” she said. “As a committee we’re still pushing government and urging it.”
D’Entremont adds that the existing school building has outlived its lifespan.
“It’s an old school that hasn’t had any work done to it in the last 20 years,” he said. “There is mold problems, rotting problems. There are bathroom problems, it just goes on and on. It’s just an old school that finally needs to be replaced.”
He said some parents are deciding to send their children to other schools – Belleville, as an example – because of the dilapidated condition, which decreases the school’s enrollment. “The school’s numbers are low at around the 100 mark. But with a new school we’d actually be able to bring that back up.”
D’Entremont said a new school for Wedgeport is the top priority for the CSAP.
“They’re all ready to go. They’re just waiting on the province to say, okay,” he said.