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Partnership between Wentworth school, community council sparks debate


TRURO – A dissolved contract between a school and related community council caused a lively debate at a school board meeting this week.

Chignecto-Central Regional School board member Susan MacQuarrie asked the board to consider a motion to reinstate the partnership agreement between Wentworth Elementary School andthe Wentworth Community School Council that dates back to 1999 “until a new agreement can be agreed upon.”

The school and community council previously had an agreement that, with the permission of the elementary school’s principal, community members through the council could make use of the school. The school board ended the agreement this past June.

“It was sudden and unexpected … it has caused many disruptions in the community,” MacQuarrie told the school board.

“The council feels CCRSB has been unreasonable in cancelling the agreement … (and) making it difficult to (get) a new one,” MacQuarie said.

School board members disagreed. Herb Steeves, director of operational services, said an offer was extended to meet with the community group “at the beginning of the school year but it was turned down.”

MacQuarrie said the council is indeed willing to meet with board representatives.

The board did not accept the request to reinstate the agreement, ultimately because the 1999 agreement it was previously under no longer exists and has been replaced with a newer use-of-facility policy.

In 1999, the community council was allowed special permission to use the school, explained board member Keith MacKenzie. When the policy was updated years later, no one reported the discrepancy

between the old and new policy regarding Wentworth’s community usage.

“Wentworth has slipped through the cracks … we expect all schools to have the same policy and that is not sitting well with Wentworth because they like what they had before,” said MacKenzie.

“It’s not popular but it’s consistent” with the updated policy, he said.

Board superintendent Gary Clarke said “anybody in the system can utilize” the school as long as they follow policy and is granted permission by the school’s principal.

Clarke said that is, in part, where problems arose, which led to the investigation and ultimate discontinuation of the contract this year.

“The principal did not know who had all the keys … they had to track down keys … too many keys were out to too many people,” he said.

MacQuarrie countered, saying the key issue is “he said, she said” and not necessarily accurate.

Debbie Buott-Matheson, CCRSB’s communications spokeswoman, told this paper “the level of access” to the elementary school “was too wide” and posed security concerns.

The discussion was tabled and is expected to continue in the new year when more information can be gathered.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com

Twitter: tdnMonique

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