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Halifax parents concerned new CSAP high school will bring boundary changes

Click to play video: 'Parents worried their voices are not being heard with new French school set to open in Halifax' Parents worried their voices are not being heard with new French school set to open in Halifax
WATCH: Parents with students in French schools in Halifax say they’re concerned about possible changes in September. Alicia Draus reports. – Jan 22, 2020

The school formerly known as Newbridge Academy in Burnside, N.S. has been sitting vacant this school year, but that’s going to change in September.

“It will be a high school,” said Stephanie Comeau, communications coordinator with the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP).

“We know it will be a grade nine to 12 school. The configuration will be determined this weekend when our board meets.”

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

The board meeting is taking place at Ecole du Sommet in Bedford on Saturday and board members will also be discussing how existing school boundaries could change with the new high school.

“We do know that it will affect some of the boundaries,” said Comeau.

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But what boundaries will change remains unclear and it has a number of parents concerned.

“We’re just in the dark, we’re really anxious, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Chantal Gradel, who has two children at Ecole du Grand Portage in Sackville.

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Porters Lake French school outdated, over capacity: parents – Nov 20, 2019

Gradel says while parents have not been well-informed of changes for the most part, she says they did receive a survey earlier in the school year which indicated possible changes for students at Grand Portage.

“There are 40 children that live east of Waverly Road, so Fall River, Elmsdale, and Enflield, and up to the Norton area,” said Gradel. “Those children would automatically in September go to Carrefour and Bois-Jolie.

“And those are in Dartmouth so much further. Therefore there would be some children staying at Grand Portage and some to Dartmouth.”

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While students switching to a school in Dartmouth would have a longer morning commute, there are also concerns among parents it would be a more dangerous trip.

“The problem is we would have to go up to Waverly Road and everyone knows about Waverley Road and how dangerous it is,” said Gradel.

The safety of the area is a concern shared by many parents, who cite blind corners, speeding vehicles and other issues.

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

Then there are parents who are concerned about the makeup of the new high school itself.

Colleen Ménard is also a parent with students in CSAP schools and says one of the concerns for parents with older students is that the board may not be taking full advantage of the new high school.

Speaking by phone, Ménard said one of the options they’re hearing is that Sommet could also remain a high school.

“That would only leave about 300 students by parents’ estimates to attend the new Burnside school,” she said.

“A smaller high school population could mean a lack of courses at high school level compared to other high school options in HRM and more of a need for virtual courses.”

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Comeau says at this point no decisions have been made and the school board will be taking all feedback under consideration on Saturday when they make a decision.

“The board will be looking at all the documentation, all concerns from parents, all comments from all the surveys,” she said.

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