Tag Archives: Wolfville school

On the Grapevine

We’ve mentioned the Grapevine a number of times before on Ww. We wish the articles were more punchy but not everyone is a pugilist. The submissions they choose to print are meant to appeal to a certain segment of Wolfville’s population and for the most part are very useful and informative.

In this issue, [#324, 12 pages long!!]  there is an update on the AVRSB review [link is PDF!] submitted by Lisa from the Wolfville Home and School giving the 2 recommendations that affect Wolfville School:

Recommendation # 6
It is recommended that effective September 1, 2011 the grade 9 classes currently served at Hantsport School and Wolfville School attend  Horton High School.

Recommendation # 7
It is recommended that effective September 1, 2011 the grade 6 classes currently served at Gaspereau Valley Elementary School and L. E. Shaw Elementary School be served at Wolfville School and Hantsport School.

Lisa didn’t include the rationale for the recommendations given in the AVRSB doc linked  above so we will share it here.

Although these recommendations do not result in a consolidation of the middle level students in this area the arguments in support of retaining the middle level in both communities were supported and well articulated on both an academic and community level. The  implementation of these two recommendations will not result in increased bussing of students and will allow the significant number of walking students currently residing in Wolfville and Hantsport to avoid daily bussing until grade 9. The Board currently operates middle level programs in P to 8, 6 to 8 and 6 to 12 configurations and will be able to support these two P to 8 configurations. The inclusion of the grade 6 classes from GVES and LESES will provide for uniform program delivery at the middle level in this area. The challenge of program delivery in small elementary and middle schools is a growing situation across the entire Board operation and new strategies are continuously being investigated to address student needs as effectively as possible. [emph ours]

It seems the argument about increased busing had impact. The recommendations have to be approved yet so we are all asked to got to the meeting May 5th Wolfville School Gym 7 pm to look everyone in the eye.

On page 3 there’s a blurb to highlight the new video rental shop on Main St, Cinematopia. We always welcome new businesses to Town [we do it quite often] but we are too often sorry to see them go again. We could use fewer new businesses and more venerable businesses, but in any case we wish Megan Haliburton well in the new endeavor.

On page 10 there is a submission from Dick Groot on the Wolfville Community Fund which is of interest to us [We wonder why he didn’t submit it to Ww?] It reviews the findings of the Vital Signs report, then Dick gives readers his insights on the challenges of poverty [bet he never had to borrow a pair of shoes to go to work, but we digress] and then, the best part, he tells us what the plans are for the money the WCF  has been given. Here’s what he says:

What is the WCF Doing?

Poverty is clearly the issue that needs our granting priority and we are soliciting proposals for projects that address poverty in the longer term. The process will be as follows.

1. We make investments into projects that have a lasting positive impact on reducing poverty, especially on our children.

2. There are two grants of $ 500 and one of $ 1,000 available at this point. [Odd amount – we thought they were given $5,000 each from the WBDC and from the Town – not to mention office space and supplies.Does the other 80% go to administration?]

3. There will be a request for project proposals in early May 2010 [like now?]

4. The request for project proposals will be advertised widely. [here too?]

5. Projects will be evaluated in terms that will be published [why not give us the terms now?]

6. We will publish project progress reports at least annually [We’ll hold you to that Dick. Since you have public money now you are accountable to us taxpayers!]

7. There will be ongoing consultation with the Sounding Board [what’s that?] and agencies relevant to poverty mitigation [such as?] to assure continuing relevance and co-ordination of efforts.

We note that Bob Stead is still listed as Board Chair of the Community Fund of Nova Scotia. We expect he recused himself from all decisions concerning Vital Signs and the WCF.

Perhaps we can think of a proposal.

Going back to page 3 we noticed this Editor’s update which we commend. We hope Jeremy doesn’t mind us quoting parts of it.

We drop 180 copies of the Grapevine at the Wolfville post office every two-weeks. It’s by far our biggest distribution point and I know some people schedule their week to pick up a Thursday copy. Our post office is an important place to gather all sorts of written and verbal local information …

To me respecting the norm means respecting the area. I don’t mind sorting and re-stacking other brochures on the counter because I hope others will do the same if the Grapevines are in a messy condition. Respect goes deeper than this however. There’s another publication in town called The Mud Creek News. The two fellas [sic] who run it are incredibly engaged on a civic level and, like them or not, they are putting in a commendable amount of work with their efforts. When I heard this week that their publication often ends up being removed or in the garbage I was disgusted. If you don’t agree with their points, don’t pick it up. If you wish to make your points be known, submit an article or start your own paper. That’s what they did. Jeremy Novak

To which we say hear, hear.

Here’s a link to the Grapevie on line.

Quote to note

We all pay the same amount, and we feel that is a heck of a lot fairer than what your house is assessed for.

That’s a reported quote from Kentville’s mayor referring to the County’s attempt to change the funding formula for area schools from a per student formula to one based completely (or partially) on assessment.

Given what we know about the “fairness” – or not- of assessments we have a certain sympathy with Mayor Corkum’s remark.

We’ve discussed the school funding issue before in this post – it’s the elephant in the schoolroom. If the application goes against the municipalities it will mean much higher costs for most of the municipalities involved. It would add, for example, $608,000 to the expense side of Wolfville’s budget!

It is not much discussed in open sessions nor has there been much attempt to get public support for the Municipalities’ position.

“I think it is important the mayor and you as councillors are in the community able to discuss it publicly,” Kentville chief administrative officer Keith Robicheau told the Council Advisory Committee January 11.

Mayor David Corkum was quick to respond.

“We’re in court over this and we have to negotiate a lot of the stuff in camera, unfortunately….

But there are lots of questions residents, and especially parents, might want to ask.  The reality is if we want decent schools, and schools which are funded fairly, perhaps the whole system should be changed. Education is a provincial responsibility. Perhaps it is time it came off of Municipal and County budgets entirely.

Meanwhile taxpayers somewhere are paying legal costs for both sides to go to court ;  Kentville CAO, Keith Robicheau,  is right –

“… this is not the way governments resolve agreements with each other.”

Ramona’s world

Ramona Jennex held an open house at her constituency office a week or so ago. Apparently LOTS and LOTS of people were there. Just not the right people. It was a hug in.

This video interview is enlightening. Kirk Staratt indicates a number of issues in Kings South which he thought were of concern including the future of Wolfville school,  the layoffs at ACA, and farm land use issues which attendees at the open house might have brought up. But apparently those many people who attended didn’t have any issues.

Most of issues I am hearing are celebratory issues..

She mentions the funding for the farm market and how happy everyone was with that. That tells us exactly who was there, that there weren’t any real farmers at the open house.  And it tells us that perhaps Ramona didn’t see all the negative comments about this expenditure of taxpayer money, how it doesn’t really help farmers or other businesses, scathing remarks which appeared following the online article in the CH (link has expired sadly)

And the concerns about the school? People were “very assured” that the issue would be taken care of by the school board.

“I’m not hearing any concerns at this point… I’m hearing optimism… people knowing there is a process in place and this process is being applied.

And it appears there weren’t any ACA workers at the open house either or they were mute.

I didn’t hear anyone talk today about ACA …

Today, I didn’t hear any really big concerns,” she said. “It was actually more of a celebration today, and I was really glad to hear that.

Kirk insists on talking about real issues – so what about agricultural land issues and development pressures. Her thoughts? She refers to a Committee. She couldn’t remember the names but Kirk must have looked them up to put in the text article accompanying the video.

...the new Agricultural Land Review Committee …. Jennex said she was happy to be able to name two members to the committee, which includes Rick Williams of Salt Springs, Pictou County; and John Van de Reit of Shubenacadie, Hants County; Bill Swetnam of Centreville, Kings County; Patricia Bishop of Port Williams, Kings County; and Lise LeBlanc of Newport, Hants County. …

“They’re meeting with people across Nova Scotia looking at the issue of land,” she said. “When they come back with their recommendations, the Department of Agriculture and myself will be looking at those recommendations.”

What is the most challenging issue, Kirk asks.

time …I don’t want to use the words issues. I want to use the word projects…. The forward thinking of people in Kings South is unbelievable …  I brag about this all the time…. for example in Wolfville, the town just gave away land for Habitat for Humanity. …”

There you go. Bring forward your favorite charity and the taxpayer will shell out for it.

“They are very progressive here in Kings South.”

Town builders obviously. The rest aren’t heard from.

The view from Hantsport

We have had occasion in the past to be in contact with Heather Davidson, editor of Hantsport’s  News and Views “the monthly community newspaper with no ads.” .[We have been corrected- it now has a few ads!]  We contacted her recently to get another point of view on the school issue.  These excerpts, reporting  on recent school meetings, were taken from the upcoming (Dec.) issue of News and Views.We have interjected some thoughts.

Reporting on the Hantsport meeting of Nov. 16th:

…Citizens, under the leadership of consultant Jemma Lambert, discussed the school’s future as set out in the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board’s Eastern Kings School Review Phase 2. Town council discussed the issues but made no decision. It organized this meeting to hear the public’s opinion. …
The good news: the school is not slated to close in the near future. The board advocates all grade 9 students attend Horton High School. Colin Chase, principal of Hantsport School,stated that the board wants the future of grade 9s discussed.
The board seems to prefer one consolidated “middle level” (grades 6-8), but, Paula Lunn (Hantsport’s school board resentative) added, “not necessarily separate.”

This we think is an important point – “Not necessarily separate.”

…Jemma reminded the audience that the school board will be basing their decisions utilizing several criteria: operating costs, facility improvement costs, student enrollment, plus a range of mitigating factors.

A member of the audience asked, “Is the board considering what is best for the students?” No one answered.

Isn’t that a good question!? One wonders why no one from the Board had the cojones to answer.

Marie Doucette asked if Hantsport and Wolfville would work together for option 4. CAO Jeff Lawrence responded that the town asked Wolfville to jointly pursue option 4. After an initial meeting with its Citizen Advisory Committee, Wolfville declined
the invitation.

That statement is revealing. We recall that someone at the later Wolfville meeting suggested working together with the other communities to show a united front for option 4 (status quo minus Gr. 9)  yet we don’t remember anyone from the Wolfville Advisory Committee or our Town Council responding to that comment to disclose that an offer had been made and declined. Why not?

At the end of the meeting, some supported keeping P-9. Another favored P-8. The least favored option was P-5. Its implementation would eventually result in the closing of the school and the inevitable decline of the town. Every town in Nova Scotia has its own school – the hub of the community.
If Hantsport grade 9s went to Horton, Chris Cuvilier (L) was concerned about the limited sports program for grade 9s. Renda VanderToorn would regret the loss of role models.

Do those arguments sound familiar?

The report on our Wolfville meeting (Nov 18th)  suggested it was more partisan than the Hantsport one, at least according to George Townsend who attended both.

George acknowledged that people want to keep their
school. But he advocated making the best decision – not a political one – for the good of the children’s education.

A voice of reason.

Mayor Bob Stead reported that the people at the meeting were passionate about their school the way it is. “We went into the meeting knowing the school will remain open. Grade 9s going to Horton is the foregone conclusion.”

A pitch for passion.

The News and Views reporter estimated the crowd at the L. E. Shaw meeting on Nov. 23 at about 200 and she noted how the towns were pitted one against the other at that point.

…The large sign,SUPPORTING HANTSPORT SCHOOL STAYING AT GRADES P-9 KEEP OUR KIDS LIVING & LEARNING LOCALLY greeted everyone outside and inside the building. Sweaters prominently displayed buttons reading SAVE WOLFVILLE SCHOOL and tags reading HANTSPORT SCHOOL.

Speakers for Wolfville outnumbered Hantsport and Avonport speakers 6 to 1 while no one from Gaspereau spoke.

Speaking on behalf of the Hantsport PTA, Penny Sheffield stated.“Children are not just numbers on a spreadsheet.” She advocated that taxpayers make the
decisions concerning the schools.” Penny argued that changes to the schools will change the communities.
Jemma Lambert, Hantsport town council’s consultant, also emphasized the significant relationship between the school and the community. She outlined the importance of the small school movement. The group Jemma represented favoured Hantsport and Wolfville as P-8.

Both LE Shaw supporters stated that parents of children at the school favoured LE Shaw as a middle school.
Wolfville representatives including the mayor, several factions of the School Advisory Commitee, a business owner, and two students favoured Wolfville and Hantsport as P-8.

A certain uniformity of views in each community it seems.

At the end of the report is this contact information which might also be useful to our readers.

Send written submissions until February 28 to Stuart Jamieson, Director of Finance & Operations, Annapolis
Valley Regional School Board P.O. Box 340, Berwick, N.S. B0P 1E0 or by email to schoolreviews@avrsb.ca.
Suggestion: balance your emotions with facts from the Hantsport School Study.

The News and Views issue is not online but there are photos and contact information available at the News And Views website.

Later (Nov. 28th) – Register report of the Nov. 23 meeting.

Save US, save WOLFVILLE school

The meeting last night at Wolfville school was well attended except, surprisingly, by the pawns in the game – the children. Few were visible and only one spoke all evening. [This was odd indeed since children have been easily mobilised as poster children, for anti-idling campaigns for example]. We are left to wonder what the youngsters think. Perhaps the Gr. 6 – 8 crowd would be happy to get out of our problem prone facility and try the Pizza in another town?

Attendees were welcomed with “Save our Wolfville School” buttons , and an alarmingly coloured red folder containing information sheets. The mayor introduced a consultant [Did we hear right? from Ramp Up?] who MC’d the evening. After summarizing some of the information handed out, all were encouraged to join discussion groups on various topics with volunteer facilitators – Impact on the Town, Busing, Quality of Education and the like. Those who could stay after that were to gather together again to hear a summary of those discussions.

We drifted around and left before the fireworks. Quite emotional enough as it was. What we learned:

  • The mayor thinks the $4. 5 Million promise “will be honoured” – but this “assurance” is not in writing and perhaps might be spent on other schools or if on our school to renovate for a P-5 facility.
  • No one has reliable numbers on anything.
  • There are two camps: those who think the 4 communities should be presenting a unified face to the Board= ” Consolidation is a flawed principle, don’t do this!!” and those who think we should go it alone = “Wolfville deserves the nod.” Mayor and Council appear to be in the second camp.
  • If comments are to be believed, Acadia and Acadia students are much more involved in our school than we would have guessed.
  • Insiders think Avonport will get the nod given previous School Board decisions favouring L. E. Shaw
  • Political pressure will be put on “our” MLA Ramona Jennex and she will no doubt be reminded that this is an NDP town. In other words – a political decision will be required.


We hope to hear from some Hantsport, Avonport and Gaspereau parents, as well as those from Wolfville in the comments.

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.