TRURO – A new discussion paper regarding school closures is now being studied by local school board members.
In the spring, school boards were directed by the provincial government to suspend school reviews to allow time for a committee to prepare a paper that would consider new or improved school review processes. That paper is now being studied by Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and public input will take place in the new year.
There are seven main topics in the paper, which were reviewed on Wednesday night at a school board meeting in Truro. Long-range planning and how it can include earlier community involvement is one of the topics. Others include: understanding how and why a school has been identified for review, the need for better, reliable and trustworthy information, more flexible timing and accommodations for unique circumstances, school board decision-making authority, how to keep school programming in the community, and what to do with sites that close.
There will be nine community meetings to review and discuss the paper, including one in Truro on Jan. 9. Although details are still being finalized, it’s believed it will take place at CEC at 7 p.m.
After an early glimpse at the report, several board members shared their thoughts.
“I have concern for the long-term plan,” said David Myles. “I really have a problem to have communities raise money to keep their school open,” he said.
Many schools facing potential closure are considering a hub centre concept, in which those communities find ways to use the school building for education and additional uses that will assist with the finances of keeping it operating.
“I believe the Department of Education should be leading … (giving) expertise and personnel because they control the purse strings,” added Myles.
Ron Marks suggested the board soon offer its input to the government so when the minister of education, Karen Casey, weighs in on the matter, CCRSB could possibly provide some ideas.
“It needs to be done sooner rather than later because if the minister (makes decisions) we have no influence,” said Marks.
CCRSB superintendent Gary Clarke said it’s not the board’s
“intent to stall” but it requires direction from the province.