Reaction is a mixture of joy and relief to word that F.H. MacDonald School is part of the province’s 2017-18 capital budget.
Pictou East MLA Tim Houston said all the work to get it listed has been worth it.
Besides required maintenance, the school will be renovated to accommodate Grade 7 and 8 students who currently attend East Pictou Middle School.
“We’ve been working each year to have it approved in the capital budget,” he said. “We’re all relieved because if it did not get onto the list of the year’s capital projects it would have triggered another school review process.”
The school work was part of the capital plan announced last Wednesday. It calls for additions and alterations for F.H. MacDonald to support the consolidation of Grades Primary to 8 at the school.
“The next step in the process will involve discussions with the board and selecting a design consultant,” education department spokesperson Heather Fairbairn said. “It is too early in the process to address timelines and other project details. We will examine all opportunities to complete the project as promptly as possible.”
Moving the students from East Pictou Middle School was the preferred one of three options heard during the series of impact assessment meetings regarding the two schools in 2013. It meant more students would continue to attend school in East Pictou up to Grade 8.
East Pictou’s enrolment was then projected to fall below 200 students, barely 20 per cent of the school’s capacity. The school was built in 1952, with additions in 1962 and 1966, and ranked among the lowest in terms of physical condition of schools in the region.
F.H. MacDonald was built in 1975 and requires major upgrades that include windows and washrooms.
Chignecto-Central Regional School Board later approved the option. It would make F.H. MacDonald a P-8 school like Dr. W.A. MacLeod Consolidated School in Riverton.