HRSB to vote to freeze construction and consult public on proposed School Closures

For Immediate Release

November 28, 2006 – (Halifax, NS) – Halifax parents are concerned that the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) is proposing to close three schools and replace them with one big box school without public consultation. The overwhelming majority of parents at Le Marchant St Thomas Elementary, Saint Mary’s Elementary, Inglis Street Elementary and south end day cares want construction held until there has been full public consultation.

Last week, a group of concerned parents circulated a questionnaire to parents at affected schools and the daycares that feed into these schools. Of the two hundred and ninety responses, 89% stated that they wanted and expected to have a say on these closures.

“The school board is ignoring their obligations and those of the Department of Education” said Waye Mason, one of many concerned parents and residents that are organizing to fight for public input. “This community has a right to voice its concerns when it comes to the future education of its children.”

The HRSB plans to build a 700 student school to replace three schools on the peninsula. This would result in one of the largest P-6 elementary schools in the Province and go against policies outlined by both the Department of Education and the HRSB that state the ideal size for a P-6 school is 350-450 students.

“We are very concerned that the decision to build this big box school is based on cost cutting rather than what is in the best interest of our children,” said Marnie MacLennan, a concerned parent. “In their own Capitol Plan the HRSB states the need for smaller elementary schools so that staff can be the most effective and know their students and yet they are still moving forward with this proposal. As parents, we want to make sure that any changes are based on sound educational principles and so we want our chance to ensure this through public consultation.”

The current HRSB Proposed Capital Plan would see ten elementary and consolidated schools on the peninsula replaced with four schools with 700 students each by 2014. Elected representatives on the HRSB will vote on a motion to freeze construction and conduct public consultation at their Board Meeting on Wednesday night