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New Bedford high school, skilled trade centres added to N.S. capital plan

Click to play video: 'New high school coming to Bedford in the next five years' New high school coming to Bedford in the next five years
WATCH: The province hopes a new school in Bedford will help alleviate pressure in an area teeming with new students. Elizabeth McSheffrey has more – Nov 14, 2019

A new high school will be built in Bedford and new skilled trade centres added to five schools across the province, the Nova Scotia government has announced in an annual update to its School Capital Plan.

Education Minister Zach Churchill announced the additions on Thursday, bringing the number of projects in the plan to 12, spread out over 11 communities in the next five years.

READ MORE: Class cap report shows some Halifax classrooms stretched over the limit

The new investments – worth an estimated $85 million – were chosen based on the needs of growing communities, and commitments to revitalize and refresh curriculum to meet modern demand.

“The criteria that we use in this particular case was looking at the most emergent needs we have in the system,” Churchill told reporters at Charles P. Allen High School.

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Land for a new high school in Bedford Ravines has already been selected, co-located with the previously announced pre-primary to Grade 8 school on Broad Street. The goal is to open the school’s doors in the 2023-2024 school year.

From September 2018 to September 2019, enrollment in the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) grew by 1,500 students – a growth trend that’s predicted to continue as immigration in Nova Scotia rises.

“That corridor along the (Highway) 102 is where we see tremendous growth,” explained Elwin LeRoux, regional executive director for HRCE.

“We’ll continue to do predictions on how immigration is working, how migration is working, but right now, this seems to be the right plan to provide opportunities for students for us.”

Click to play video: 'Halifax schools see increasing number of classes exceeding student cap' Halifax schools see increasing number of classes exceeding student cap
Halifax schools see increasing number of classes exceeding student cap – Oct 18, 2019

The schools receiving renovations to accommodate skilled trade facilities are the North Nova Education Centre in New Glasgow, Liverpool Regional High School, the East Antigonish Education Centre, the Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre in Inverness, and École secondaire de Par-en-Bas in Tusket.

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Other new investments include a new school bus garage in the South Shore, the purchase of a new building for the alternative high school at the West Hants Education Centre and Windsor Adult High School, and the purchase of Newbridge Academy in Dartmouth, for the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP).

These are in addition to previously promised schools in Cape Breton, Chignecto-Central, CSAP and Halifax, and renovations committed to for the 2019-2023 period.

READ MORE: N.S. to spend $28.5 million to buy, renovate high school for Acadian board

Tim Halman, PC critic for education, hailed the new announcements as a “good news story” for the communities receiving renovations, upgrades, new schools and programs, but said he’d like to see more transparency on how the projects progress and how community consultation takes place.

“I know when the government brought out the new regulations in the summer for the school site selection process, the minister argued this will help streamline the process, but I’ve heard from some parents that community consultations may (suffer) as a consequence of that,” Halman said.

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