Antigonish County Warden, Russell Boucher says council members are pleased with the decision to keep both HM MacDonald and Antigonish Education Centre open despite recent talks of school closures.
Boucher believes that the funding for rural schools needs to become a provincial issue so that education can stay within the community.
Boucher hopes that keeping with the “status quo” will mean no school closures in the Antigonish area in the years to come. He says speaking from his own 30 years of school board experience that funding is an issue that hasn’t changed, but needs to.
The School Options committee for the Dr. JH Gillis Feeder system has done their job and submitted the required reports to the Strait Regional School Board.
SOC Chair, Deepak Presad presented a majority report stating the SOC voted to recommend the closure of Antigonish Education Centre. In a phone call with XFM, Presad says the conclusion was reached after a great deal of deliberation and thought from SOC members.
Presad says that: “It all boils down to being part of the solution. There is no way to fix the problem, because there is no way to get “X” amount of students to move into those schools. We want to be engaged, we want to be part of the solution, and that’s how we operated”.
Ultimately, Presad says his goal, along with the entire SOC is to optimize the schools to ensure the best quality of education for the students. A decision will be made on April 26 to decide which avenue the SRSB takes.
It was a packed house at Wednesday night’s Strait Regional School Board Meeting, which was held at St. Andrew Jr. School in Antigonish. The meeting featured presentations of the School Options Committee’s final report and recommendation for school closures, and a presentation representing concerned parents.
Matthew Boyd presented findings that discussed the problems arising from the recommended closure of Antigonish Education Centre. The savings for the budget that could come from this recommended closure, according to Boyd is only 0.6%. On top of this, closing AEC means higher enrolment at the remaining 4 schools:
In addition, St. Andrew Jr. School would need 5700 square feet added as a result of increased enrollment.
The superintendent of the Strait Regional School Board was pleased to see a high level of engagement at the meeting. The location of the meeting was moved to Antigonish to allow more locals to hear the final report and recommendation of the School Options Committee.
Ford Rice says now that the report has been received, he and the other board members will spend time looking at the report – which features a majority and minority report. Rice says seeing high attendance and engagement at these events is no surprise:
The public will have more time to have public discussion with SRSB members, as a working committee meeting will be held on April 19th. It is expected that a vote will happen on April 26 to decide the fate of the Antigonish Education Centre.