Parents suggest option to keep students together

Amy MacKenzie
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Parents and concerned members of the community said they want to see either East Pictou Middle School kept open or Frank H. MacDonald school turn into a P-8 school during a public meeting Tuesday. East Pictou is currently one of five schools that could potentially be shut down by the school board.  AMY MACKENZIE – THE NEWS

SUTHERLANDS RIVER – East Pictou Middle School is in a review process with the school board that could end with its doors being closed for good, but community members and parents spoke up Tuesday night at a public meeting to say they want to see their children kept together and close to home.

The East Pictou School Advisory Committee must present a written document to the school board by Feb. 1 containing information to help the school board make an informed decision on whether or not to close East Pictou Middle School.  

The School Advisory Committee presented the community with the information from the impact assessment report of the school the board compiled. The report suggested two options for the students at East Pictou Middle School. Option one would see the students stay at East Pictou Middle School. Option two would see grade 7 and 8 students dispersed to Highland Consolidated School, New Glasgow Junior High School, Thorburn Consolidated and Trenton Middle School and the Grade 9 students would go to North Nova Education Centre in New Glasgow.

The room of about 40 community members and parents seemed unanimous in their feelings that they did not want to see their children separated the way they would under option two. They expressed they didn’t want students travelling farther away from the community to attend school or to have students separated from their friends among five different schools. It was also noted that a closure would affect the sense of community in the area.

Andy Thompson, deputy warden of the municipality, was one of those who said he didn’t want to see the board choose option two.

“If you disperse them among four or five schools, it’s not a good situation,” he said. “I truly believe the best hope for rural East Pictou is to make Frank H. a P to 8 school. I think that’s our best option.”

Don Butler, treasurer of the East Pictou Educational Foundation, also thought students should stay in the area.

“It’s difficult to maintain rural communities and it’s going to be even more difficult if students have to go longer distances to be educated,” he said. “I can tell you that Frank H. MacDonald school is a good facility and it has many more years of life in it and that school should make changes within the school to accommodate children until grade eight and then they can go as a group.”

Later on in the meeting, Butler suggested those who want to see Frank H. MacDonald turn into a P to 8 school stand up to show the committee. Almost everyone in the room rose to their feet.

No one at the meeting said they wanted to see the board choose option two. 

While turning Frank H. MacDonald into a P to 8 school so the students could stay close to home was not one of the options presented in the impact assessment report, the School Advisory Committee said they would add it in their report to the school board to have it considered.

The next step is for the School Advisory Committee to compile the community’s opinions and present their recommendation to the school board. If the school stays in the review process, the school board must hold a public meeting and make a final decision before March 31. 

Organizations: The East Pictou School Advisory Committee, East Pictou Middle School, Highland Consolidated School New Glasgow Junior High School Thorburn Consolidated and Trenton Middle School North Nova Education Centre East Pictou Educational Foundation

Geographic location: Pictou, New Glasgow

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Recent comments

  • Joy
    January 10, 2013 - 08:57

    I think a P-8 at FH is probably the best option here. Most grade levels have 2 classes of students currently, space should not be an issue.It would not be anymore of a headache than sending Highland kids to MacLeod. Likely more cost effective than figuring out new bus routes and separating kids after gr 6 only to send them all to North Nova in two years, just stay at the school they have been at for the past 5 years and move on together after grade 8.

  • resident
    January 09, 2013 - 07:12

    Both of these schools have been open for many years! It would be a shame to see both closed down. Sutherland's River is a beautiful community and a safe place for all students to attend school. Why would anyone who has a child in that district who attends one of these schools want their child picked up in the am and bussed off to town for their education! I agree its a great idea to save at least one of the schools!!!

    • Parent in attendance
      January 09, 2013 - 13:23

      There is a lot of incorrect things in this article. FH is not closing. Moving the kids to NGJHS would be when they construct the new school. Let your voice be heard.

  • What?
    January 09, 2013 - 00:48

    I can not be reading this correctly NGJHS! Why did they move all those kids from Acadia and Temperance to that old Brown School if the junior high is an option. Parents stand your ground and all of us parents of students at the Brown School need to start questioning what the heck is going on!

  • Melissa Andrews
    January 08, 2013 - 23:47

    I went to both these schools. I feel they should be kept open for both the students and also the fact that there is next to no community anymore in PC. The area is falling apart and keeping at least one good thing would be nice to see. Both schools are close to the outer area if PC, its am easy commute for most and its a nice school/area, its out of town which makes kids pay more attention because they aren't around the mall and a ton of other distractions. the education system is failing as it is, just leave this school alone!

  • Mom
    January 08, 2013 - 23:02

    People need to come forward and voice their ideas! It is of no benefit to separate children at such a crucial age. We need to keep these children together and not disperse them in small groups to various schools in the county! It's time for a change, but this is NOT the answer! As one wise gentleman said, there is strength in numbers and more people need to come forward so the best option is presented to the school board in the future of our children's education!