Schools are vital to community life.
That is why school closures trigger a variety of human emotions that range from denial to anger, fear and ultimate acceptance. Regional school boards have reviewed several schools across the province for more than 20 years until the recent announcements that some of them would be disbanded.
Groups have studied schools to determine their long-term viability based on a building’s age and condition, as well as current enrolment as a proportion of its capacity. These are some of the over-riding reasons why some local schools are closed.
Declining student enrolment has also driven a school review process. Across the province and by region, especially outside the Halifax Regional Municipality, school populations have plummeted from near capacity to less than half.
In some cases, new schools are a way to update resources and course options available to students. New schools by times are seen to make more sense than renovating or upgrading older facilities. Consolidation has preserved schools in some Nova Scotian communities and has cost other communities their schools. This is evident in both urban and rural areas.
Restoring communities’ once healthy populations and thriving economies is a long-term solution to reversing the trend to close schools. Until then, school reviews need to be done with great wisdom and care.
The Hub model that surfaced in recent years, whereby buildings house a variety of community activities besides those connected directly to education, is worth considering. It’s a way to save schools and communities, while preserving the goal of achieving the best possible outcomes for students.
This series of articles, compiled by Advocate Media newspapers in Nova Scotia, is a sample of some of the many articles on school reviews and closures that were written over the past several years by staff members. We hope they give insight into some of the closures and the effects they have had on the students and communities.