I’ve never been to Evanston, Richmond County, or Heatherton, in Antigonish County, but my heart goes out to the people there who will lose their schools by board fiat.
Many schools that are ordered to close have truly been hanging by a thread; but when should a school board cut it?
Section 20 (4) of the regulations accompanying the Nova Scotia Education Act state: “If a school board decides to permanently close a public school, the school board must permanently close the public school no later than 5 years after the date the decision is made.” Prior to reaching its decision, and before starting the school review, the board must have reviewed, among other things, enrollment patterns over the previous five years, enrollment projections for the next five years and any proposed development in the school region [Section 16 (1) & (2)].
It would be more humane to issue a warning bell five years ahead of time, allowing the community to do its utmost to change the metrics and prospects that will determine its fate. Five years on, the doomed scenario might be the same, but the period of hope in between might have triggered some unforseen change for the good.
Proceeding with a longer timeframe would not add to the cost of the process, but it would grant a period of grace in which concerted community-based strategies might flourish, or fail.
In either case, the community would have invested itself in more substantial things than waging a battle with a school board.