12 Halifax-area schools under closure review
Staff at the Halifax Regional School Board have begun another school review process, naming 12 schools that it would like to close, replace or amalgamate.
Most of the schools on the list are being reviewed because of falling enrolment and face possible closure or consolidation. The list includes 11 elementary schools and one junior high.
"I think we need to take a serious look," said Carole Olsen, the superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board.
"This year the government has given us a one per cent cut, as well as asked us to absorb the cost pressures and the increases, so for our board that's over $10 million that we're looking to find in our budget this year."
Olsen said the board has had surplus space for several years and there are school populations that could reasonably be absorbed into other schools nearby. One square foot of surplus space costs the board $5 a year in maintenance and operating costs, she estimated.
The board stands to save about $3.5 million if all the schools on the list are closed, she said.
Here are the schools being recommended for review for possible closure:
- Atlantic Memorial – Terence Bay Elementary
- Atlantic View Elementary
- Caudle Park Elementary
- Central Spryfield Elementary
- Gertrude M. Parker Elementary
- Hillside Park Elementary
- Prince Arthur Junior High
- Sackville Centennial Elementary
- Sambro Elementary
- South Woodside Elementary
- St. Joseph's–Alexander McKay Elementary
- Upper Musquodoboit Consolidated Elementary
The list will be presented to the members of the Halifax Regional School Board on March 30. Olsen said the final decision will rest with the board and no decision will be made until March 2012.
"If the board decides that they want to keep them all open — which they can do because that is a board decision — then we would have to find the money to make sure the schools could stay open but it would mean that we would have to reduce services somewhere else," she said.
"I think they need to keep in mind the ability of the schools to be able to offer good programs and absorb the students into another school. I think they need to keep in mind the changed financial context that we have in the province now that we didn't have three years ago."
Tanya Miller, a parent at Atlantic View Elementary School in Lawrencetown, said the school is the heart of the community and she was shocked to hear the news.
"We didn't even know that the school was up for closure so even if we had been told that the school's going to be closed in 2012, it's not enough notice," she told CBC News.
Miller said she understands the cost pressures that the school board is facing, but said closing Atlantic View Elementary will disrupt many families.
"I understand it may not be important to the school board but it's important to these kids," she said.