Nova Scotia

Bloomfield Centre proposed as site for new junior high

A school options committee recommends closing Oxford School and Highland Park and building a brand new junior high school in north-end Halifax.

Highland Park and Oxford schools would close, new school built to replace Bloomfield Centre

The school options committee is recommending repairs and upgrades for Joseph Howe Elementary and St. Stephen's Elementary, as well as a full renovation for St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary. (CBC)

A volunteer committee tasked with determining the future of five schools in north-end Halifax is proposing to close Oxford School and Highland Park in order to build a brand new junior high school, ideally where the Bloomfield Centre stands now.

The school options committee plans to present the draft recommendation at a public meeting at Citadel High in Halifax on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The committee held two meetings earlier this spring to get public input.

This is the last chance for the public to participate in the school review process.

Committee members considered the condition and age of the buildings, population density and demographics at five schools in the area:

  • Joseph Howe Elementary
  • St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary
  • St. Stephen's Elementary
  • Highland Park Junior High
  • Oxford School

Jon Frost, chair of the school options committee, told the CBC's Information Morning that all five schools are currently only at 60 per cent capacity and the board is facing an "infrastructure crisis."

Building a new junior high, and consolidating the students from Highland Park Junior High and Oxford School there just made sense, he said.

Bigger, better junior high

"A junior high with a higher population can mean more funding, which means more ability to provide programming," Frost said, such as French immersion. He also said committee members believe junior high students would be better at adapting to a larger school, compared to elementary students.

Ideally, he said committee members want to see the new junior high built where the Bloomfield Centre sits now, which would mean the Highland Park site could become green space. If that wasn't possible, they say the next best thing would be to build the new school on the current Highland Park site, Frost said.

Oxford School to close

Oxford School — which is a combined elementary and junior high school — would have to close, he said, "because we'd end up with 130-some kids in a school that's built for about 700-some."

The committee is recommending repairs and upgrades for Joseph Howe Elementary and St. Stephen's Elementary, as well as a full renovation for St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary because "trying to keep the shell and trying to keep the site is very important to the community," Frost said.

School board approval required

The recommendation will go to the school board this summer and Frost said there's no guarantee board members will approve it. Then, in the spring, the province will decide whether to pay for the plan.

Frost said the 15-member school options committee tried to do what was best for the community.

"We were all parents," he said. "We understand the needs of the north end. We think it's a good recommendation with all things considered, and we're hopeful."

A new junior high for Halifax's North End? We hear what a volunteer committee has come up with, as it looks at the future of education in that part of town. Tonight's the final North End Schools public meeting. 7:57

With files from CBC's Information Morning

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