Wolfville School at risk

It wasn’t that long ago that our mayor assured the townspeople that Wolfville school was safe. Not that he has any control over what happens to the school except by way of adopting town policies which either encourage a healthy school population or don’t.

The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board (AVRSB) has  the authority to make decisions affecting Wolfville School and “After gathering feedback from school communities” has come up with 3 options. The options are probably a big surprise to those who petitioned the AVRSB on the future of the respective schools in the consultative phase of the Review Process; the propositions outlined don’t match the tone of that phase which was all data gathering, patient listening, reassurance, sweetness and light, followed by hollow promises.

Since the initial consultative phase, Nova Scotia announced new schools construction and capital renovations to a number of schools in the region.

In January of 2009, the AVRSB approved new grade configurations superintendent of schools Margo Tait says will impact on the school review process. Preferred grade configurations were amended to include primary to grade five for elementary schools, grades six to eight for middle schools and grades nine to 12 for high schools. emph ours.

One might wonder why these new grade configurations weren’t thought of before the Review process so this factor could be included before school construction and renovation promises were made to the public. But that’s water under the bridge isn’t it?

Wolfville and area parents are now faced with 3 options, two of which are not very hopeful for continuation of the present grade range at the local school.

The first option would be to create a separate middle school serving all students in grades six to eight presently attending Hantsport, L.E. Shaw, Wolfville and Gaspereau Elementary. This would involve converting L.E. Shaw to a standalone middle school and redistributing the primary to grade five population of that school to the other three schools. This would require some renovations to L.E. Shaw.

This would mean loss of the middle grade in Wolfville School but  an influx of primary school students here coming from further afield.

The second option would be to convert Gaspereau, Hantsport and L.E. Shaw to Primary to five chools, with all grade six, seven and eight students consolidated at Wolfville in a primary to eight configuration. This would allow for a consolidated middle school program at Wolfville, but would have to be delayed until anticipated renovations there are completed in 2016.

This is the only option in which Wolfville school retains the primary to eight configuration and would probably be the ones local parents would like but is it likely? The delay is a significant one; the facilities at Wolfville school are very outdated and could not carry the burden without renovation.

Under the third option, students in grades six, seven and eight would be housed at Hantsport in a primary to eight configuration, with Gaspereau, L.E. Shawand Wolfville all becoming primary to grade five schools. Wolfville would be the most affected in this scenario, becoming smaller than in the first option but, as in that option, would have the opportunity to create more exterior space for the school’s students.

This we would think is the most likely scenario as it is the least costly although the cost of busing students should be taken into account. It doesn’t look good for our school does it?

Already parents are concerned that loss of the middle school here will make Wolfville less attractive and the transport of children is also a safety concern. A move is afoot to influence the decision of the board with an appeal to residents to speak up by contacting the board

[This section with name and e-mail  of  another contact has been removed on request]

Together with the Town? We would say that this threat is the logical conclusion of town policy for the past decade or so.

High cost housing, high taxation rates, deed transfer taxes, and high cost recreation facilities don’t really encourage young families. Being a Fair Trade Town, a no-uranium mining town and having no smoking by-laws don’t help. We are in competition with Hantsport and Avonport which may be more attractive in other ways.

It is no consolation to us to say we told you so. What’s past is past but it is discouraging to see no understanding of underlying causes and the same mistakes being repeated year after year.

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4 responses to “Wolfville School at risk

  1. Andrew Bateman

    Before publishing my name and email, and before making assumptions regarding positions, information and machiavellien assissinations, I would suggest that if you wish to have any credibility at all with your readership, you might want to contact the informed source, before issuing blogisms such as this one. Facts are always more righteous than vindictive creatism.

    This issue affects every citizen of this community.
    The town council of Wolfville is as impacted by the eventual decision on this School board review as each and every one of the rest of us.

    Attached are a couple of links to the AVRSB and the media release on the EKSR– fyi.

    http://www.avrsb.ednet.ns.ca/Message%20from%20Super/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20Eastern%20Kings%20Schools%20Review%20Phase%202%20Final.pdf

    http://www.avrsb.ednet.ns.ca/main/index.php?p_type=1&pagecontentid=246

    Of particular note is the document entitled AVRSB Schools Review – Phase 2 which outlines several options for configurations of affected schools, including Wolfville School. All of these options will directly impact the Town of Wolfville and our school community. The AVRSB is hosting a public meeting on this issue on Monday, November 23, 2009, at 7:00 pm at L.E. Shaw School in Avonport.

    The Town of Wolville will be hosting an infomation session and gauging community response sometime after Halloween at the school – date and time,to be announced ASAP. If you care, you will be there! End of story, no excuses.

    I would expect you, and other vocal, concerned citizens to be at both meetings.

    Hear the positions, hear the opinions, voice your concerns, express your viewpoint, show true support for this town and community, and for our children

    If your position is not accepted, then you are entilted to condemn, but not before.

    This issue cuts across ALL segments of the Wolfville community, and will impact all of our wallets and the services we receive in the near future. We need to be one voice.

    This is not an “US vs the Town Council” issue. You risk our children by making it such. This is about decsions to be made by the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board.

    Regards
    Andrew Bateman.

    • Dear Andrew,
      (1) Attending public meetings is not the only valid/useful way of expressing a viewpoint or exploring ideas.
      (2) The notion that “We need to be one voice.” is unrealistic and disturbing. There may be good reason(s) for a range of opinions. Denying different voices is oppression.
      (3) There is evidence that Ww publishes opinion contrary to the views of its editors. So, why not state your opinion(s) on the issue? You know, get the ball rolling with a few ideas… I’m assuming you have thought deeply on the matter and might have some interesting ideas.
      (4) I would have thought it quite reasonable to suggest that the property tax burden is an issue that affects where families settle. Without a substantial cohort of young, there is little sense having a school. The other thing that affects where people live is jobs. So my (Machiavellian?) suggestion is to reduce the tax burden in order to make Wolfville more affordable for businesses and young people.

      Cheers,
      Brian

  2. We gather from what you say that we shouldn’t have or express an opinion until we hear what others have to say. If you follow this rule you shouldn’t opine on the wisdom of Town policy until you have attended a few Council meetings. But we don’t agree. You are free to think the Town’s policies help our town and our school and express your opinion here until you come to another conclusion from experience.

    We are sorry we attached your name and e-mail to our disgusting blog. Since it had already been published widely via the university list we thought you might not mind it being made known to an audience outside of the university community. We were mistaken so we have removed it. “The opposite of Diversity? University!”

    Thank you for the links. Had we had time we might have included them ourselves. This is not our day job. If you followed the link to our previous post https://dubyadubya.wordpress.com/2008/10/13/will-wolfville-school-survive/ you will see we linked to the AVRSB’s first review report there as well as other informational material.

  3. Urgh, it’s clear that something has to give (eventually) if present enrollment trends continue. WS is the largest of the 4 schools under consideration… which should work in our favour.

    The most important thing, from my point of view, is ensuring the kids get a decent education at a viable school.

    The way I see it, all options for reconfiguration involve considerable cost and disruption. Further, the options under consideration would seem to be only a medium-term fix… One wonders if the disruption and capital costs of a reconfiguration are really going to offset by the presumed efficiencies and programmatic advantages. Frankly, I don’t see how… although it is possible that AVRSB just hasn’t posted the numbers where I can see them.

    I’d say leave the schools as they are for a few more years. Then, when/if the enrollment numbers actually get low enough to really require changes, make substantive changes that would see things stabilized for the long-term.

    Wolfville School presently has the biggest enrollment so it should be best placed to grow at the expense of the other schools. Obviously, the extent to which Wolfville retains this position will, in large measure, be determined by the priorities of our community. At the very least, we need to get the tax burden down to a point where young Acadia faculty (with kids) can afford to live here…