TRURO – River John Consolidated will be closed in 2015 unless the board rescinds its decision in the next two years and East Pictou Middle School will undergo another school review.
The Chignecto Central Regional School Board voted at its meeting Wednesday to put East Pictou Middle School through another school review process so the board can study the option of turning Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School into a Primary to Grade 8 School so East Pictou Middle School students could move into it and stay in their community rather than be split up between several schools if it closes.
Board member Gordon Anderson made the motion for the second review. This option was brought forward by the community to the study committee, which then presented it to the board for consideration.
"I think it would make sense if we could go along with what the community wants, because it would be a viable option," Anderson said.
The initial motion to close East Pictou Middle School and move its Grade 7 and 8 students to Highland Consolidated Middle School, New Glasgow Junior High School, Thorburn Consolidated, Trenton Middle School and the Grade 9 students to North Nova Education Centre was defeated.
A motion was passed with 15 in favour, two against, that River John Consolidated be closed on June 30, 2015 and the students be moved to Scotsburn Elementary, West Pictou Consolidated, Tatamagouche Elementary, North Colchester High School and Northumberland Regional High School at that time.
The decision to close River John Consolidated at that time can be rescinded within those two years and it was discussed at the meeting that if River John Consolidated forms a community and business hub within the school that generates an income that will help the board offset the operational costs of the school, then a motion to rescind the closure could be put forward if the board wishes.
The idea of turning River John Consolidated into such a hub was brought forth by the community to the board at its public hearing regarding the potential school closure.
The River John Community School and Business Committee suggested at the hearing they'd like to implement a program for organizations to use unused portions of the school and thus help with costs. Flawed Productions was one of the businesses that spoke in favour of that option.
The votes were the climax of a seven-month long process that entailed the board narrowing down which schools would save the board the most money if they were closed. Once five schools were chosen, the board released impact assessment reports, which detailed the options for each school. Then, a study committee at each of the schools up for closure was formed to collect responses from the community and relay the responses in a report to the board. The board then held public hearings at each of the school to hear directly from the communities about the options presented for the schools up for closure. The vote was the final step in the review process.
The board also voted at the meeting to close Bass River Elementary on June 30, 2013, Maitland District on June 30, 2015, and Wentworth Consolidated Elementary on June 30, 2014. Bass River Elementary was the only school the board voted to close this year. The board has the option to rescind its decisions on Maitland and Wentworth before the closing dates.