No Grade 7-9 students may end junior high at Donagh

An absence of junior high students at a school north of Hazelbrook may seal the school's fate, permanently making it at kindergarten to Grade 6 school.

Some parents don't like idea of losing the rural junior high

An absence of junior high students at a school north of Hazelbrook may seal the school’s fate, permanently making it a kindergarten to Grade 6 school.

Donagh Regional School usually houses students from kindergarten to Grade 9 but this year there are no Grade 7 – 9 students because students and their parents decided they’d rather go to Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown.

It’s a move that could become permanent and some parents don't like that idea.

Next month, the English Language School Board will hold a public meeting to talk about officially making Donagh a kindergarten to Grade 6 school.

Last year, there were only a handful of students in Grades 7 and 9 attending Donagh, and no Grade 8s at all.

"That aspect of the curriculum and teaching to a 7/9 split, can certainly be challenging not only in math but in other subjects as well," said Principal Jason Kielly.

Kielly said over the years, some students chose to go to Stonepark for French Immersion or band and numbers dropped.

"Once your numbers get low, it gets tough to run a sports team or sometimes phys-ed class or intramurals," he said.

Andrea Murnaghan, a parent with children at the school, said there would be enough students to keep the junior high curriculum if the school’s zoning and busing rules were more strict.

"The school is very viable, if we can keep the kids there," she said.

"I think because they have given in over the past, and made it so easy for kids to leave, that's why kids have left."

Class sizes in the kindergarten to Grade 6 group are healthy but Kielly said he has heard from parents who are worried about what the future will hold if the Grade 7 to 9s are removed.

"You know parents will ask me if I've heard anything, and then I'm always honest with them and I haven't heard anything," he said.

The school board said it does plan to do an infrastructure review across the province that will likely include zoning in the future.