Nova Scotia

Province to buy 10 public-private partnership schools for $49.3M

Nova Scotia's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development says it's cheaper to buy the buildings than to continue to lease the properties.

Education Department says buying the buildings is more cost-effective for taxpayers than leasing

In 1998, the province signed agreements with four developers committing to long-term leases for 39 P3 schools. (Kris Schmidt/Shutterstock)

The Nova Scotia government is buying 10 public-private partnership schools from developers Nova Learning and Ashford Investment for $49.3 million dollars, saying it's cheaper to own these buildings than to continue to lease them.

Each of the schools will stay open because the school boards in those communities have told the province there is a need for them.

Nova Scotia is buying the following Ashford Investment schools for close to $16.1 million:

  • Antigonish Education Centre, Antigonish
  • Bayview Education Centre, Port Hood
  • Dalbrae Academy, Mabou

Nova Scotia is buying the following schools from Nova Learning for about $33.2 million:

  • Maple Ridge Elementary Elementary School, Lantz
  • Meadowfields Community School, Yarmouth
  • Champlain Elementary School, Granville Ferry
  • Forest Ridge Academy, Barrington
  • Bayview Community School, Mahone Bay
  • Pine Ridge Middle School, Kingston
  • Northeast Kings Education Centre, Canning

The leases for these schools will expire between 2019 and 2021.

The province signed agreements with four developers in 1998 to lease 39 public-private partnership schools (also known as P3 schools) for 20 years.

Through a review process, the school boards confirmed 37 of the 39 schools are still needed. The two remaining school buildings will be surrendered to the developer.

The cost of buying 37 schools — which includes the 10 announced Wednesday — is $215.9 million. 

Public-private partnerships panned

The latest purchases end the partnership between the province and the developers, a partnership that has been criticized for years.

In 2010, Nova Scotia's auditor general at the time said school boards were delivering the services at a lower cost than what was paid to the developers. The auditor general, Jacques Lapointe, said the province could have saved $52 million if it had built schools the traditional way.

Last year, the province bought two public-private partnership schools — O'Connell Drive Elementary School in Porters Lake and Riverside Education Centre in Milford — which will be turned over to the government in July 2018 when the leases expire.