By Richard Bell
Education Minister Zach Churchill has yet to release any information about the new site selection process that his department will use to select sites for new schools, like the replacement for Eastern Shore District High. The Community Campus Vision Association pushed hard to start the site selection this fall, but Churchill failed to act. There have been several projected release dates, but the date continues to recede into the future.
In a recent email, Elwin LeRoux, Regional Executive Director of the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, wrote that the ESDH replacement project “is planned to begin in the 2019-20 fiscal year, with site selection and school design,” a projection in keeping with the schedule that Churchill released in the spring of 2018.
LeRoux’s prediction followed questions about the replacement of ESDH from the schools’ School Advisory Committee, which sent a letter to LeRoux last year.
In response to this letter, LeRoux invited Sue Scribner and Melanie MacIsaac, chair and vice-chair of the ESDH SAC, to a meeting before Christmas at which they discussed the issue and gave LeRoux three questions.
LeRoux replied by email to these questions in early January 2019. Here are the three questions, followed by LeRoux’s replies:
1.What is the process for site selection for replacement school announced for Eastern Shore District High?
The Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development decides on the site for each new school in Nova Scotia. It is anticipated that the process to select a school site, as well as to gather feedback from community on options, will be refined so to streamline the entire construction project timeline. It is anticipated that government staff will assess potential locations and do preliminary work on suitability. When a replacement school is announced, it is anticipated that the site of the current school will always be considered as a potential option.
When a short-list of viable options is determined, community will be invited to give input and feedback on these potential sites.
2. What is the timeline for the project?
Under a revised site selection process it is expected the timeline to final project completion will be a total of three years. This project is planned to begin in the 2019-20 fiscal year, with site selection and school design.
3.What will the grade configuration be?
The grade configuration of the new school has not yet been determined. Additional analysis will need to be completed by HRCE staff.
In a reply email, Scriber thanked LeRoux for his answers, adding that she “wanted to bring forward another important point that we discussed. The SAC at ESDH feels that it is extremely important that when considering a site that it be connected with a community. As outlined in the letter sent in the fall there are many partnerships that have been developed and we want to maintain and develop more. There was a recent tweet on HRCE that stated ‘the community is our classroom.’ This is particularly true in areas outside of the city.”
Here is a link to the specific page on the HRCB website about capital projects: https://www.hrce.ca/about-hrce/operations-services/capital-projects