The city’s school board says the $500,000 annual cost to operate the Quinpool Education Centre is the reason it has closed the doors to the alternative high school.

The decision means students from the Halifax area who attend Flexible Learning and Education Centre (FLEC) programs​ will now have to head to Bedford or Dartmouth to access one of two remaining alternative high schools.

The program is meant to help students who risk falling through cracks. It offers small classes, individual attention and shorter terms.

"Getting out of the Quinpool Education Centre was a decision the board made for budgetary reasons,” Halifax Regional School Board spokesman Doug Hadley said.

But Halifax education consultant Paul Bennett said alternative schools should be at the centre of communities, not on the perimeter.

"They should be easily accessible to students," he said. "We’re talking about students who are struggling in high school."

FLEC enrolment is down this term from 262 students to 229. Hadley said he can't say whether that's due to transportation problems, or if fewer students are failing in their neighbourhood schools.

He said the school board may look at offering the program at other sites.