N.S. government to buy 10 schools for $50M
The Nova Scotia government is shelling out nearly $50 million to buy 10 schools built through public-private partnerships nearly two decades ago.
The province said Wednesday that the little more than $49 million it will pay two private developers, Nova Learning and Ashford Investment, is the “best value for Nova Scotia taxpayers.”
The Education Department says in a news release that purchasing the P3 schools will lead to “substantial savings,” compared to renewing the leases for the next 30 years.
It expects to save $21.5 million by purchasing the three Ashford schools and $34.9 million by purchasing the seven Nova Learning schools.
The province will purchase the Antigonish Education Centre, the Bayview Education Centre in Port Hood and Dalbrae Academy in Mabou from Ashford Investments for a total price of $16 million.
It will also purchase seven schools from Nova Learning for $33.2 million: Maple Ridge Elementary School in Lantz, Meadowfields Community School in Yarmouth, Champlain Elementary School in Granville Ferry, Forest Ridge Academy in Barrington, Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay, Pine Ridge Middle School in Kingston, and Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning.
In 1998, the province signed long-term leases with four developers for 39 P3 schools.
It has since purchased 37 of those schools at a cost of $215.9 million. Two of the P3 schools were “surrendered,” or returned to the developer.
The Education Department says it consulted with school boards to determine their infrastructure needs and long-term plans before buying the schools.
NDP leader Gary Burrill called the purchasing of the P3 schools a “necessary but lamentable” step in a failed process.
“P3 schools have been a failed experiment in Nova Scotia,” Burrill said in a news release. “The people of our province are paying for the Liberals’ mistakes.”
Although he said buying the schools is the right decision, Burrill said it doesn’t “erase the mess” they have created.
The NDP leader said the province has spent $700 million on P3 schools over two decades.
Last fall, the province’s auditor general criticized the government for exercising poor judgment with the P3 model of building schools and failing to take timely and appropriate action on the future of P3 schools.