Bass River Elementary falls to board cuts. (CBC)

Parents and students at five northern Nova Scotia schools have been told their small schools are either closing or heading for the chopping block soon.

The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board deliberated on whether to close the schools at a meeting in Truro Wednesday night.

Parents at Bass River Elementary were told their children's 100-year-old school will close at the end of June.

Tanya Harnish's youngest daughter is one of just 20 children at the school.

She calls the decision "devastating" for the community.

"You can't beat having the hands on child to teacher ratio. I mean, it's a pretty home-hearted school that the kids are in right now."

The board is facing a $1.8-million shortfall in its budget. Closing all five schools would save a $1 million annually.

Three other schools are on delayed closure.

Parents at Maitland District Elementary and River John Consolidated School were warned the schools could close in two years, while Wentworth Consolidated could close next year.

If the communities come up with a business case to keep the schools open, the board might reconsider.

"Over the next month or two the board will have to come up with those exact criteria and when the board comes up with those criteria we’ll communicate it to the communities," said superintendent Gary Clarke.

The final school, East Pictou Middle School, has proposed moving some of its students to another building.

The board will consider the idea during another review process.

All of the schools are small.

There are 223 students enrolled at East Pictou and 77 at River John.

The total number of students attending Wentworth and Maitland could fit in just one classroom.