Tasked with finding greater efficiencies within the education system, they chose to examine infrastructure cuts instead of programming.
Riverside Consolidated School, located in Riverside-Albert, serves the communities of Riverside-Albert, Alma and surrounding areas. The results of the study could lead to the permanent closure of the school as early as June 2015.
**Note: the public meetings are posted on the Connecting Albert County Calendar.**
The detailed time line of meetings and decisions can be found here.
Kelly Edgett, speaking as Chair of the Parent School Support Committee (PSSC), is appealing to stakeholders and parents across Albert County to consider the long-term and far-reaching impacts of school closure on the community as a whole, and to consider sending letters of support to elected officials and members of the AESD and DEC (email addresses below).
One of the points made by PSSC is the distance between communities, frequent stops, and the roundabout routes that buses take to pick up and deliver students.
“Buses, as we know, do not travel in straight lines,” says Edgett. “Currently, the student with the longest bus ride travelling from West River to Caledonia Regional High School travels 219 km per day (109.5 km each way). We have accepted this reality for our middle and high school students. This is not acceptable for elementary students.”
She notes that if Riverside Consolidated School is closed, “a kindergarten student living in Alma will travel 68.6 km to attend Hillsborough Elementary. Even with a minimum of stops, this trip will take 1 hr and 31 minutes on a fine weather day, meaning the young children will spend 3 hours each day on a bus. To put this in perspective, a Kindergarten to Grade 2 student spends 5 hours in the classroom. More than half of this time will be spent traveling.”
A letter distributed to residents from PSSC states:
“Reasonable access to education is imperative to people who work in this region. Our area, home of the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve, draws people from all over the world to explore and discover. The completion of the $22.8-million Fundy Trail Parkway set for 2018, predicts a huge increase in tourist traffic. Parks Canada is investing millions of dollars into Fundy National Park's infrastructure, programs, and projects. The New Brunswick government has recently completed the new $12-million Forest Dale Nursing Home facility in Riverside-Albert. With the continued existence of Riverside Consolidated School our communities can remain strong and vibrant.
“We, the parents of current, future, and past students of Riverside Consolidated, urgently request that the Anglophone East School District and District Education Council recognize the impact of denying reasonable access to education in our communities.”
The letter also asks concerned residents to get involved by writing letters and by sharing the information with others. “We respectfully request that you read the following information, as it concerns the community as a whole, and fill the inboxes of the people listed at the bottom of the letter with your support,” the letter states.
These people include:
email@example.com, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development
firstname.lastname@example.org, MLA, Albert County
Gregg.Ingersoll@gnb.ca, Superintendent, Anglophone East School District
email@example.com, Chair, District Education Council
firstname.lastname@example.org, Representative for Albert County on the District Education Council
email@example.com, Principal, Riverside Consolidated School
To see the PSSC letter, click here.
To learn more about policy information on school closures, see Policy 409 “Multi-Year School Infrastructure Planning” - section 6.4.2 (page 5 of 9).
To read CBC's coverage of the story, click here.
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