RIVERTON – Chignecto-Central Regional School Board Superintendent Gary Clarke and other board representatives held a public meeting at W.A. MacLeod School to describe the nine options the school board is considering for the future of Highland Consolidated School students and to gather input from the community on the options.
Option one would see the students eventually return to Highland Consolidated School following an estimated $1.5 million renovation to fix existing problems at the school, including mould and odour issues.
The other eight possibilities are what the board would look at if they vote to close Highland. The options include expanding and renovating existing schools to add a middle school program.
Clarke said at the beginning of the meeting that whether the board decides to close Highland Consolidated or not, the students will likely remain in W.A. MacLeod for the 2013-2014 school year.
He said if the board decides to make the necessary renovations to Highland Consolidated, the process to apply for capital construction funds from the province and make the renovations would take about a year and if the board votes to close Highland and expand and renovate an existing, or multiple existing schools, to add a middle school program and accommodate additional students, Highland Consolidated will need to undergo the school review process as mandated by the Education Act, which involves a year of studies, reports and public hearings before it can be closed.
Parents, community members and local politicians expressed that they were not happy about hearing that the students will likely remain at MacLeod next year. Concerns people had about the current situation MacLeod and Highland students are in include a lack of lockers, a lack of windows and the fact that some students are bused to NSCC Pictou Campus in Stellarton for gym class.
People also expressed concerns to the board that they want to know what the estimated costs of the other options are in addition to the $1.5 million estimate for fixing the issues at Highland Consolidated.
The board representatives said that now that they know the process will take longer than initially expected, the board will discuss short-term solutions to alleviate concerns the community has about the situation at W.A. MacLeod. The board stressed that they do not see all options as carrying the same weight and CCRSB director of operational services Herb Steeves said the estimated costs for the other options would come up in later board meetings when the board is looking at applying for capital funding from the province, which it must do by April of this year.
“We will share your opinions with the board and move forward as quickly as we can,” Clarke said at the end of the meeting.
For more information on the details of each individual option the board is considering, visit www.ccrsb.ca. Check ngnews.ca for more on this story.