Education council rejects Sackville group's K-12 'community learning campus' pitch

The Anglophone East District Education Council voted to ask the province for two new Moncton-area schools to replace three old facilities and rejected a proposed "community learning campus" in Sackville at a meeting Tuesday in Dieppe.

Anglophone East District Education Council recommends closure of 3 Moncton-area schools, 1 Sackville school

The Anglophone East District Education Council voted to ask the province to close three Moncton-area schools and replace them with new facilities. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The Anglophone East School District Education Council wants the province to close four southeast New Brunswick schools and build at least two new facilities.

The district held three votes at a meeting Tuesday in Dieppe on motions affecting three schools in Sackville and three others in or near Moncton.

The votes came after meetings to gather community input on the future of the schools as part of sustainability studies of the facilities that began earlier this year.

The first unanimous vote calls for the province to replace Mountain View School with 84 students from kindergarten to Grade 5. The council also wants the province to replace a 55-year-old facility in Irishtown with a kindergarten to Grade 8 school. 

Council members at the meeting said their vote reflects the importance of rural schools and concerns they heard about bussing young children to the city. As part of the request to the province, the council wants to expand the school's catchment boundaries, potentially south to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Joel Eastwood is president of the Mountain View parents committee and sought to keep a school in the Irishtown area.

Joel Eastwood, president of the Mountain View School parents committee, says he is pleased with the council vote to ask the province to replace the Irishtown school with a new kindergarten to Grade 8 facility. (Shane Magee/CBC)

"We're excited about the opportunity to go-ahead with a new school if the government goes through with it and we believe it will be a huge boost to our community," Eastwood said.

The second unanimous vote saw council recommend the province to close 53-year-old Forest Glen School and 62-year-old Sunny Brae Middle School near Elmwood Drive in Moncton. Forest Glen has 323 students enrolled, while Sunny Brae has 294. 

It asked the province to build a replacement facility in the city.

The district education council decided the fate of three Moncton-area schools, including Sunny Brae Middle School. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Mountain View, Forest Glen and Sunny Brae each need costly work such as new windows, heating and ventilation systems and washroom renovations.

The third vote Tuesday evening touched on three schools in the Town of Sackville and saw Roy MacMullin as the lone vote against the motion. 

The council voted to ask the province to close the Grades 5 to 8 Marshview Middle School built in 1948 with millions of repairs required. Marshview had 271 students enrolled this fall.

The council motion calls on the province to examine expanding Salem Elementary School to include middle school students. Salem, built in 1980, is a kindergarten to Grade 4 facility with 367 students in 2017.

Anglophone East School District Education Council held three votes Tuesday evening at a meeting at Lou MacNarin School in Dieppe on the future of three schools in the Moncton-area and three more in Sackville. (Shane Magee/CBC)

But if the province deems Salem shouldn't be expanded, the council is calling for a new kindergarten to Grade 8 school to replace Marshview and Salem. 

The move would leave Tantramar Regional High School open. 

The motion effectively rejected Sackville Schools 2020's pitch. 

Members of Sackville Schools 2020 worked on their proposal for a new community school for more than three years. From left to right are Agnes Koller, Michael Fox, Brian Neilson and Karen Sears in the spring of 2017. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

The committee wanted to create a "community learning campus" from kindergarten to Grade 12 that would replace the town's three schools. 

"I feel there was a compelling vision by Sackville 2020 and others in the community that, if followed, would provide us with something unique in this province and maybe elsewhere as well," MacMullin said of his decision to vote against the council motion.

Harry Doyle, chair of the education council, said it was the first non-unanimous vote by the council in his memory and reflected hours of tough deliberations behind closed doors. 

"The concept is not accepted yet and is not 100 per cent accepted in the community," Doyle told reporters.

He said staff and students Tantramar Regional High School were against changes to that school. 

Harry Doyle, chair of the Anglophone East School District Education Council, says the Sackville Schools 2020 proposal didn't have enough support in the community or with students and staff at the high school. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Michael Fox, one of the members of the Sackville Schools 2020 committee, said he's pleased the council moved to at least close Marshview. 

"I'm a little worried when they say they're going to leave the high school alone because we know Tantramar needs millions and millions of dollars now," Fox said.

He said members of the 2020 committee recently met with Dominic Cardy, the province's education minister, to talk about their concept and plan to continue working on implementing the idea.

Michael Fox, a member of the Sackville Schools 2020 committee, says he's glad the district education council recommended closing Marshview Middle School. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Under the provincial policy to close or replace a school, the district notifies the education minister of its recommendation by Jan. 31.

The minister has up to two months to make a decision, either approving it or rejecting it is decided that procedural fairness has not been applied or relevant educational options have not been considered.

Doyle said he doesn't expect new schools for several more years if the province approves the requests. Locations of schools are provincial decisions.

Superintendent Gregg Ingersoll, along with Sarah Short, council member for Mountain View School and Ian Hebblethwaite of Sunny Brae Middle School and Forest Glen School talk about Tuesday night's vote. 16:29

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.