Presenting to the Chignecto Central Regional School Board Tuesday night in Truro, people from River John, Wentworth and Maitland, made it clear that they want to keep their schools and asked for more time to make that possible.
Those people are absolutely right when they say that their schools are vital to their community. A school keeps families in rural communities. When they go, the families go and a community often dies. There really is a lot at stake.
Bearing that all in mind, it’s only reasonable for the school board to extend the closing process for the schools and give the communities a chance to get hub models (or some other plan) in place and running.
One of the major concerns brought out in the meeting was the lack of clarity on what a hub model school would look like. The hub model at the simplest level is the idea that empty spaces in a school building could be used for other purposes to make it more economically sustainable.
Catherine Yuill speaking for Maitland, however, said roadblocks include not knowing who the building’s landlord would be, what businesses or groups would be allowed onsite, and what rental rates would be.
We hope that the school board provides answers to those questions sooner than later so that these schools have a chance to move forward in their attempts to save their schools.
River John has brought forward the need for a new roof and parking lot upgrades. While the school board certainly doesn’t want to waste money on a school they could close, it seems like a reasonable request for the community to ask for repairs to make their building more attractive for other types of occupants.
Rural schools can be expensive to run and maintain, but we are confident that there are the resources in each of these communities to come up with a plan that will enable these schools to succeed.