INVERNESS, NS – Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster is calling on the McNeil government to follow the School Options Committee’s (SOC) recommendation regarding the future of Dalbrae Academy and its P-8 feeder schools.
The SOC was created by the Strait Regional School Board–under the direction of the provincial government–to look at the future of these schools. Since the Whycocomagh school is owned by the province, MacMaster believes there is a risk that the leased school in Port Hood will end up closing in 2021 and students will be moved to Dalbrae Academy in Mabou.
“The SOC worked hard, and have been open and transparent about their work,” says MacMaster. “The decision about the future of Bayview Education Centre in Port Hood will ultimately be made by the McNeil government, but the province should respect the recommendation of the SOC it created.”
According to MacMaster, there are still many questions surrounding how much money would be saved to close Bayview school and move P-8 students to Dalbrae Academy. Classroom and bathroom renovations would be needed, but there are no official cost estimates. The provincial government also didn’t allow for other options, such as a new, smaller school in Port Hood, or a hub school model where unused school space could be used for other purposes. There was also no option given to negotiate for a better lease buyout price.
“When you take a school out of a community, it has a dramatic effect on that community,” says MacMaster. “It may mean some money is saved, but it means a lot to the community of Port Hood and its identity. That should have value for the province too.”
The final public meeting regarding the future of the schools will be next Tuesday, April 18th in Mabou. The SOC is expected to make its recommendation shortly afterwards.