Education council recommends closure of Hillcrest School in Moncton

The Anglophone East district education council has voted unanimously to close Hillcrest School, in Moncton's west end.

Recommendation for closure is based on declining enrolment and the inability to offer certain programs

The Anglophone East district education council has recommended that Hillcrest School close its doors. (Hillcrest School, Moncton NB/Facebook)

The Anglophone East district education council has voted unanimously to close Hillcrest School in Moncton's west end.

The recommendation to close the kindergarten to Grade 8 school, was made at a meeting on Tuesday night.

The district voted earlier this year to study Hillcrest's future, and whether its students should be sent to nearby Bessborough School. A request has also been made to replace Bessborough, which requires costly upgrades.

Residents in the area were upset over the latest decision, Steve Woodworth was one of them. 

Woodworth went to Hillcrest and can see the building from his house. He said when students move onto Bernice MacNaughton High School, their "small school" background stands out.

"I believe this decision is going to rob our future … what happens [is] the product from that little school shines," he said.

Steve Woodworth says the closure of Hillcrest School is wrong, and the culture that goes with a small school will be missed. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

"It shines about everybody … we're going to lose that and once that's gone, it's gone."

The education council heard that enrolment at Hillcrest has been declining steadily over the years, and can't offer the same programs as bigger schools in the area.

But Woodworth isn't buying that argument.

"People have always made things happen at Hillcrest," he said. "They always will, they always have, so my belief is that the improper decision was made." 

Parents undecided 

Leah Goguen, a member of Hillcrest's parent school support committee, said parents were polled prior to the decision. 

Only about 59 per cent responded to the poll and of those, 37 per cent were in favour of joining Bessbrough and 38 per cent were not.

The other 25 per cent were undecided.

Leah Goguen is on the parent school support committee at Hillcrest and says many parents were undecided about joining Bessborough School. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

"The parents were very undecided — either undecided or unsure of whether they would agree to join or they were not in favour of that," Goguen said. "It was tough."

Not an easy decision

Norval McConnell, a member of the district education council, said the decision was a logical one, and not based on emotion.  

"You get so small that then you have to be concerned with, are you really giving kids the broad opportunity to be exposed to a number of different kids? Different teachers?," he said. "That became a factor when you don't have full-time art, don't have full-time music." 

Norval McConnell is on the district education council and says making the decision to recommend closing Hillcrest School was not easy. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

Even though a request has been made for a new school to replace Bessborough, the province has not made any final decisions but is expected to do so come January.  

Options being discussed as a new school site include the current Bessborough School property or a site near Centennial Park.