Wide potential in school initiative

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Pictou County Council expressed an interest in keeping pace with developments on the proposal for a community hub for River John Consolidated School.

That’s good not only for the River John area, but elsewhere, since it’s a concept that if successful could be applied in other rural communities.

At a meeting this week, Coun. Robert Parker suggested council support the work of a committee trying to keep the school open, as River John is one slated by the school board to potentially close in June 2015. With a certain amount of groundwork to be accomplished toward establishing a community hub to make the school more viable, Parker said it would be a shame to “let the clock run out on the project.”

It does offer great potential. The idea is, with a low student population, for various small businesses or commercial ventures to form a co-operative and rent an unused portion of the building, thus helping to meet the cost of keeping the school open.

But with a potential closing date just over a year away, the working plan needs to be established. Just as important, those making the crucial decision on the school’s fate need to be convinced the plan will work.

The possibility of an extension to the closure date has been suggested. With an meeting coming up between school board members and the local Save Our School committee, Parker suggested finding whether having someone from council there would be helpful.

This concept will depend on a positive balance sheet, and it will be critical for all those with a stake to be kept in the loop. This is the kind of initiative that would gain steam with a hotline to the education minister’s office to report the progress and potential benefits.

The public in the county and around the province should also be paying attention and offering moral support. This could turn out to be a model plan. It might only be a matter of time before another rural community will want to draw on the experience in River John.

Organizations: School committee

Geographic location: River John

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