Griffin Goldie

Christian Goldie says his son, Griffin, is excelling in his Grade 1 class at Morna Heights School. (Courtesy Gillian Goldie)

Parents of students at Morna Heights School have begun writing letters to the New Brunswick government in a final attempt to leave it out of a school merger proposal.

The Anglophone South School District Council voted on Jan.14 to recommend merging the west Saint John elementary school with two aging schools in Grand Bay-Westfield — Inglewood School, and Grand Bay Primary.

The council is asking that a new school be built in a central location.

Education Minister Serge Rousselle still has to to approve the school closure recommendation for it to take effect.

He normally gives his ruling between 30 and 60 days after receiving the recommendation, however, because the proposal involves a new building, it may take until next fall to decide.

Morna Heights parents opposed to the DEC decision are now appealing to Rousselle to cancel the closure plan.

Christian Goldie's son, Griffin, is in Grade 1. He says he is "saddened and troubled" by the proposal.

"When fulfilling the needs of one community comes at the expense of another, there is something wrong with the system," Goldie said.

"Those of us who fought to keep the school open continue to feel that [Morna Heights] was included in the plan to make a new school for Grand Bay-Westfield viable."

Goldie previously voiced his opposition at a public meeting in his community in December, which was hosted by the DEC. Similar consultations with parents in Grand Bay-Westfield were largely supportive of a new school.

"Morna Heights and the surrounding community will suffer because Grand Bay-Westfield has a need," said Goldie.

"We are a consequence of fulfilling that need."

Old infrastructure

All three schools were under review last fall, as part of a sustainability study for Inglewood School.

The education department's Policy 409 includes triggers that can launch a review if enrolment drops below 100 students, or the functional capacity falls below 30 per cent.

Those don't apply to Grand Bay primary or Morna Heights, but the DEC could look beyond those triggers if there was a strong enough case to consolidate with a school that does meet the criteria.

DEC chairman Robert Fowler says council members voted in favour of the school closures because the three communities are being held back by old infrastructure.

"We are facing significant capital repairs and an opportunity to merge three schools into one, get a brand new facility was the overwhelming criteria people focused on," he said.

The location of the proposed merged school has not been established.

The latest review comes as a number of schools struggling with enrolment were closed in the fall, including Lorne Middle School in Saint John and Brown's Flat elementary.