New Brunswick

2 northeastern schools face closure

Two small northeastern communities on the Acadian Peninsula will be losing their schools at the end of June.

Saint-Léolin mayor vows to fight the school closure in his community

Two small northeastern communities on the Acadian Peninsula will be losing their schools at the end of June.

Education Minister Jody Carr has accepted the recommendation of the local district that schools in Saint-Léolin and Rivière-du-Portage be closed and the students moved to other schools.

School District 9 used a provincial policy designed to avoid school closure controversies of the past but Saint-Léolin Mayor Joseph Lanteigne said he is still disappointed by the decision.

The kindergarten-to-grade 4 school in the village will close and the children will be bused to a school in nearby Grande-Anse.

District 9 is also closing a kindergarten-to-grade 8 school in Rivière-du-Portage and centralizing classes at another school near Tracadie-Sheila.

The district board followed a provincial policy which requires a year's notice, plus public consultation.

Gerard Robichaud, the council’s chairperson, said the policy was followed in the cases of the two northern schools.

"You know we went through the whole process, everybody had a chance to have their say, and we went with what a majority of people wanted," he said.

But Saint-Léolin’s mayor said he's not giving up the fight to save his community’s school yet.

He said the school to be closed in his village is only 22 years old while the school where students will go in the fall is much older and will need expensive repairs sooner.

He said given the provincial deficit, it makes more sense to centralize classes in his community and he will try to persuade the education minister of that.

School closures are often a contentious subject.

In 1997, the former Liberal government had planned to close schools in the northeastern communities of Saint Sauveur and Saint Simon, a decision that sparked protests by local parents and citizens.

Those 1997 protests ended in clashes with police. The RCMP was criticized by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission over its handling of the protests.