SHUBENACADIE: After many months of deliberations, the School Options Committee (SOC) has made their draft recommendation on the future of Maple Ridge and Shubenacadie Elementary schools.

Going against CCRSB’s mandate that one of the two schools must close, the SOC has recommended conducting a review of all catchment schools from Enfield to Stewiacke to see if the students can be placed elsewhere.

“The intention is to move away from status quo towards optimization,” said Carla Anglehart, School Board appointed facilitator for SOC meetings, “to make sure the students are getting the best experience possible.”

The committee presented their rationales to justify their decision to go against the initial mandate, most notably, the areas projected future development.

There is evidence of major growth and development coming to the area. The Penney Group has confirmed development of 200 lots of semi-detached residents, that is 400 homes, and at least four, eight unit apartment buildings, which will begin construction in summer 2018.

“It has already been approved as of right, which means there is not a need for public consultation, said Kerri Ann Robson, Chair of the SOC. “It is not contingent on the Lantz interchange. The Penney group has advised us that that development is looking to move towards affordable housing for young families and seniors.

“We’ve done a bit of our own math here, if even half of that development moved towards young families, and if those families even had one child each, that’s an additional 200 children going into Maple Ridge Elementary School.”

Those 200 extra children, would put Maple Ridge school beyond capacity.

The committee also had the opportunity to asses the CBCL traffic study which looks at the Lantz interchange and plans for development along Highway 2, as well as hear from Armco and Shaw Group who both have large areas of land in the Maple Ridge Catchment area slated for development in the near future.

Many members of the local group ‘Save East Hants School’ were in attendance to present their petitioning efforts which have collected just over 2,300 signatures.

The recommendation seemed to go over well with the roughly 150 people gathered at Shubenacadie Elementary School awaiting the results on Feb. 23.

Following the presentation by the SOC, community members were invited to approach the microphone and express their feelings towards the decision.

“I’m actually quite pleased with the recommendation you guys have come up with, we’ve said all along it seems a little short sighted with whats coming through the community and just using the projection numbers from an old census didn’t make sense at all,” said one man in attendance.

One woman said “I wanted to speak from the heart, I live very close to the school so I hear the children playing. I am asking you not to take their voices away from this community. We have lost so much in our community, if we lose our school we lose our heart and our soul.”

If the recommendation is approved by the board by the deadline date mid May, those voices surely will not be lost.

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Nicole Gnazdowsky
Nicole graduated from Saint Francis Xavier University with a degree in political science in 2014 and University of King’s College with a journalism degree in 2016. She has been with The Weekly Press since May 2016. Nicole grew up in Rothesay N.B. and now lives in Halifax. She loves her dog, Madden, and travelling.