Closure review faces protest | Metronews

LINDSAY JONES
Metronews – Halifax

The decision whether to close four elementary and junior high schools on peninsular Halifax and eight in Dartmouth is now in the hands of the one-man school board.

Independent consultants, hired by the Halifax regional school board to steer its Imagine Our Schools 10-year capital plan, presented Howard Windsor with recommendations at last night’s school board meeting.

“I’m going to need some time to look at the report, have an opportunity to see what staff are recommending to me and then hear what the parents have to say,” Windsor said.

Emotions were elevated last night as some parents came to grips with the likelihood that if they want to keep their school open, they may have a fight on their hands. Prior to the meeting, some staged a protest, waving hand-coloured placards that said “Imagine Our Schools Open,” and “Save St. Catherine’s School.”

St. Catherine’s Elementary was in fact saved last night, as Oxford School was pegged for closure review in its place. Controversy is also mounting over the consultants’ recommendation to close three schools in Halifax’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Parents and students from St. Joseph’s Alexander McKay Elementary in north-end Halifax wore school banners in silent protest of the recommended closure of their school. At one point, someone yelled “Why don’t you just close them all,” prompting Windsor to slam down his gavel.

The consultants’ report also included a recommendation to build a high school in Eastern Passage and renovate some facilities at a cost of up to $30 million a year over the next 10 years. Windsor said the plan will be dependent on funding from the province.

“You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything in the report, but what you’ve got here is basically a road map,” he said.

Meetings for the public to respond to the report are March 17 in Dartmouth and March 19 in Halifax.

lindsay.jones@metronews.ca

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