Minister should consider school proposal
In April, 2016, the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board (CBVRSB) made decisions on school closures in Cape Breton.
One of the schools chosen to close was Bridgeport Elementary School on the promise and hope of a new school for the Glace Bay Family of Schools.
However, we believe this is not a financially feasible decision for our government and our school board. With a student enrolment that will continue to decline a new school is just not going to happen in the near future.
Two of the schools chosen to remain open require, we believe, major emergency maintenance which is eating up a majority of the CBVRSB’s budget.
We underwent a school review process with one of the directives being to free up budget dollars for our children’s programs and resources (guidance, resource and art teachers) which we know are at risk of being taken away. Would it not make sense to close two schools that are in a constant state of disrepair and reopen one school that requires minimal maintenance costs, saving the CBVRSB budget funds through operational costs and maintenance?
We understand school closure decisions were difficult to make and that our board does what it can with what it is given. We are only asking to give our children the best of what we have now that we know a new school is not an option.
In April, 2017, Minister of Education Karen Casey approved the “Classrooms in the Community” proposal as a pilot project in Louisbourg beginning September, 2017. Casey submitted a letter to the CBVRSB stating that this proposal is worth looking at and that her department would work with the CBVRSB finance department to find funding to offset the operational costs next year for George D. Lewis Elementary.
We feel this is also a possibility that could be considered for reopening Bridgeport School as a community development facility.
On April 19, 2017, a proposal entitled “A Safer Place For Our Children to Learn and Grow.” was handed over to MLA Dave Wilton on behalf of our community group. This proposal was hand delivered to Casey with his support and he is now awaiting a reply. This proposal outlines the benefits to all of the children in the Glace Bay Family of Schools and surrounding communities along with its cost effectiveness.
We are only seeking what is fair for all communities, students and staff. We believe our proposal is a great fit for our community as was Louisbourg. Casey has agreed to fund their proposal and we believe she should consider ours.
As of now Bridgeport School is being utilized by Basketball Cape Breton in partnership with the CBRM. This lays the groundwork for our own community development piece.
The Adult Learning Program has also expressed interest in using the facility for their evening classes. There are endless possibilities for Bridgeport School to be utilized by all organizations in Glace Bay and surrounding areas which, in turn, would offset costs for the CBVRSB.
To Minister Casey, we know you are listening and hear our voices. Our goal is to do what is best for all children in these communities and was never to criticize the board or our minister. We encourage you to accept our proposal. Linda Tracey, Tammy MacInnis, Debbie Tracey, Brenda MacLean Glace Bay