Sharon Connors of Millville has fought the closure of the Millville Elementary School five times and plans to fight it again.
The Anglophone West district education council voted 7-6 at a meeting Jan. 28 to recommend closing the school mainly because the kindergarten to Grade 5 school has only 28 students. A single vote also swung the council to recommend Burton Elementary School, located in a growing community, remain open.
Connors' and her husband are graduates of the school. Her children and grandchildren also attended the school.
But Connors says she is not fighting the closure because of nostalgia. She says very young children will be forced to take a long bus ride to Nackawic Elementary if Millville closes. And the close vote on the recommendation is another reason.
"Can you close a school on one vote and send children 45 extra minutes every day on a bus ride to another school outside their community? It just doesn't feel like the right thing," said Connors.
Education minister has 60 days to consider requests
Connors says she hopes to get Education Minister Serge Rousselle reject council's recommendation.
Rousselle has between 30 and 60 days to decide whether to accept the recommendations or not.
"I feel I need now to speak out because so many times the wrong thing happens because nobody said anything. And so many people in our area aren't saying very much because there's such a feeling of futility," said Connors.
"I think it should carry a lot of weight that the vote was 7 to 6. That's only one vote that closed that school."
Council chair Mark Noel said the council stands by the majority vote.
"That's how all decisions are made," said Noel. "Sometimes the decision is not unanimous but as long as the decision is by majority, we feel that's important moving forward."
Burton Elementary in growing community
Meanwhile, Evelyn Peddle is happy council recommended Burton Elementary remain open.
"We are one of the fastest growing communities in this province, and in 1961 when they built this school, there was a few hundred people living in this community. Since then, we have close to 1,100 homes and a population pretty close to, if not more than, 3,000," said Peddle.
But Peddle does agree with Connor that it is getting harder to convince her neighbours that they can change the fate of their community.
"The biggest lesson I learned out of this is the people and the community have to stand up and represent what they want and what they believe is important," said Peddle.
The council also recommended to keep Nackawic Elementary, Nackawic Middle, Nackawic High and McAdam Elementary schools open.
The schools were subject to a sustainability study triggered by an Education Department policy that requires it of any school that has fewer than 100 students, or is below 30 per cent capacity.