Education council rejects Sackville group's K-12 'community learning campus' pitch
Anglophone East District Education Council recommends closure of 3 Moncton-area schools, 1 Sackville school
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.