The final Imagine Our Schools meeting took place on Thursday evening at Halifax West High School.
The sixth Imagine Our Schools meeting, led by consultant Maureen O’Shaughnessy, included the final recommendations and discussion by those present.
In June the group of consultants will present the recommendations to the Halifax School Board. Before the board makes any decisions it will take public submissions.
The province will then receive the capital recommendations and make the decisions as to who should receive funding.
The first priority is to deal with the overcrowding issue in order to accomodate all students. A short-term solution could be to temporarily accomodate students in portables, or to relocate some students to a different school, as a new permanent school is being built.
The second priority is to deal with run-down conditions of some schools. A replacement school would be needed, and for this to happen enrollment has to be steady or increasing (as it is in the Sunnyside schools).
The third priority is given to program renewal, to specialty programs, lunchrooms, gymnasiums, etc.
O’Shaughnessy emphasized the absolute need in capital investment in new schools for Bedford. The Bedford South area in particular, with the large development going on, needs new schools.
She also pointed out that the government has to build new schools for new developments. O’Shaughnessy has faith this will happen because funding would be separate from the general funding given to the other schools-the government has to provide it.
She also emphasized that money IS flowing in the school board for the improvement of each school.
When looking at the growth occurring in Bedford it was stated that two new high schools would definitely be needed in the community.
The Sunnyside schools (Eaglewood Drive, Fort Sackville and Waverley Road) are on the priority list. A new elementary school will have to be built, with temporary portables at Waverley Road and Fort Sackville.
Three to five years is an urgent time frame to get the school built and it is one of the top priorities by Imagine Our Schools. While the new school is under construction, it will be recommended that six-pack portables be placed at Eaglewood Drive.
As for Bedford Junior High, there is a three to five year fast track here as well. Parents present expressed the hope that there would be a very strong recommendation by the consultants. It was also emphasized that once the new high school is built it would be more feasible to relocate to CP Allen than to build a new junior high.
New schools are definitely needed in Bedford South, and they are needed immediately. Imagine Our Schools will reccomend that Bedford South become a junior high school (this would have to happen by 2013) and six new elementary schools be built in the next ten years.
A new high school would be needed for the Bedford South area alone.
Thus, Bedford would have two junior high schools and two high schools. Students in Kingswood would also feed to the new Bedford West Junior High.
For now, as a short-term solution, Bedford South School is in a definite need of portables.
So for now students, teachers and parents wait patiently for the final results, as all hope for solutions that will improve the learning environment of all students in Bedford.
For more information on the Imagine Our Schools meetings visit the Halifax School Board site at: www.hrsb.ns.ca and click on Imagine Our Schools.