Two students at Montague Intermediate School have gathered hundreds of signature in support of a new industrial arts classroom, so they can stop going to the abandoned high school next door.
'Why is it safe for us to be here?' — Chloe Jardine
High school students moved into a $22 million facility on the outskirts of town in 2010, but the industrial arts classroom in the old building is still being used by junior high students. The old school is coming apart. Water damage has collapsed the roof in one section, and staff and students are worried there may be mould in the walls.
Junior high students Chloe Jardine and Eve MacKinnon launched a petition, which currently has more than 200 signatures, so they could stop using the old facility.
"This school got closed because it was so old, and the construction was aging and was so bad. My grandmother went to this school," said MacKinnon.
"The high school students, they were told it wasn't safe for them. Why is it safe for us to be here?"
Montague Intermediate principal Kevin Stonefield is as frustrated as Jardine and MacKinnon. An expansion of his school has been on the Eastern School District's priority list for three years, but nothing has been done.
"The building itself is not in great condition," said Stonefield.
"You know it was closed for a reason, and yet we're still sending students to it. It disappoints me and it irritates me that the powers that be can suggest that it's good enough."
Stonefield said the expansion would cost $1.2 million. The plans also include a new band room.
Education Minister Alan McIsaac is not holding out any hope for the petition. He said there are no plans for any further school construction in the province.
"We're making do with the facilities we have at the present time," said McIsaac.
"They're not what anyone would want I suppose, but the dollars were not approved for this year, and we've spent a lot of money fixing up other schools. But our first and foremost focus is trying to put dollars towards literacy and numeracy, and things like that, infrastructure is, I would say, secondary to that.
The students are aiming to gather 1,000 signatures before presenting their petition to Premier Robert Ghiz in the new year.