Parents of Maitland District Elementary School were not pleased with the decision of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) to not go along with the request of Education Minister Karen Casey. In April, Casey had requested the boards defer the decision to close three schools; Wentworth, River John and Maitland by one year.
The three schools are currently exploring the option of creating a Hub School that would sustain it financially, not be a burden on the school board budget and would keep the school within their community. The schools have been requesting guidelines on what is allowable since last spring but those guidelines will not be ready until September.
Debbie Buott-Matheson, communications manager for CCRSB, provided this summary about the meeting on June 11:
“In summary, the Board decided last evening to postpone their decision on the Minister’s request to extend the closure deadlines until March 2015. Their reasoning is that the guidelines and criteria for the hub model will be coming forward in September. With the criteria in hand both the school board and the committees from each community will have the ability to better build business cases and assess the viability of a hub for their school. By March, both the Board and the community committees should have had enough time to develop a plan that either lends itself to more time to develop the hub to completion or shows clearly that a hub is not possible.”
A number of parents from the Maitland area travelled to Northport School to speak one last time and to hear firsthand the decision. Denise Miller, spokesperson for the Maitland group, spoke at the meeting on their behalf but was not happy with the board decision.
“I feel the board’s decision on the vote was definitely not well received by any of the members of these three groups,” says Miller. “We have been repeatedly asking the board for guidance and collaboration including at the presentation I did last night prior to the votes. This shows us that the board is not willing to work with us and disregards any of the work we have done. The board needs to recognize that students living in small rural communities matter just as much as their counterparts in larger urban areas and deserve to be educated in their own communities for elementary education. The red tape and hurdles each if these three schools have gone through and are continuing to go though would be almost laughable, were it not such a very serious topic.”
The school groups will have six months to prepare their plans of action once guidelines are established.