The P.E.I. education minister broke a promise by delaying again the expansion of Montague Intermediate to allow industrial arts and music classes there, say opposition MLA Jim Bagnall.
'In the winter it can be nasty conditions and then coming back through that 40 minutes later.' — Principal Kevin Stonefield
For years students have had to walk to the nearby local high school for those classes. That school is now closed, with the students at a new high school on the outskirts of town. Montague Intermediate was supposed to be expanded at the same time as the new school was being built. That didn't happen, and the Department of Education is now saying it will be another year.
"I'm very disappointed," Bagnall told CBC News Tuesday.
"It seems to be a habit with [Education] Minister [Doug] Currie because he makes a promise and then he breaks it. He took me in at the legislature, we went in the back room and he said that they were cancelling the Montague school last year but it was definitely was going to be done this year. This government has again backed down on their word."
Montague Intermediate principal Kevin Stonefield talked to CBC News on a rainy day just before the Christmas vacation about the problem.
"We have seven blocks of industrial arts; that means seven times kids are going to be leaving this building, walking through 10 to 20 ml of rain, soaking wet when they arrive," said Stonefield.
Conditions were different but no better on the first day back to school in the new year, with snow and icy conditions.
"In the winter it can be nasty conditions and then coming back through that 40 minutes later, so it's not a healthy situation," he said.
Deputy education minister Sandy MacDonald said the money budgeted for the Montague Intermediate expansion was eaten up by other projects that cost more than was planned, and the forecast for the next year doesn't look any better.
"What's come up this year is we're concerned about mould in schools, and so we've had to set aside some money for that as well," said MacDonald.
"We know that the Eastern School District is not real happy with us in Montague, but it is a matter of trying to balance and weigh the best way to get the most bang for your dollar."
MacDonald said it may be another year before construction begins on the addition to Montague Intermediate. That leaves Stonefield wondering why his students must continue to use the old high school that was deemed not good enough for high school students.
Bagnall said sending the junior high school students to a closed school sends a bad message.
"They are saying to them ... they weren't good enough for the high school students but they are good enough for you," he said.