3 Halifax area schools seek community space for final phase of pre-primary expansion

Schools across N.S. reconfigured in preparation for final launch of pre-primary
Schools across Nova Scotia are being reconfigured in preparation for the final launch of pre-primary.

Schools across Nova Scotia are being reconfigured in preparation for the final launch of pre-primary.

In some areas, this means students are heading to high school sooner or moving into portable classrooms, while other schools are still looking for space.

Truro Elementary School advisory chair Kelly Ash said the decisions are being made with no consultation and it’s leaving parents with more questions than answers.

READ MORE: ‘It’s been a game-changer’: Pre-primary education program expanding throughout Nova Scotia

“Nobody talked to us, nobody consulted us which is supposed to be our role,” said Ash. “We are supposed to the voice of parents for our school and we are supposed to be a direct line to the CCRCE (Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education) and in turn the province.”

Ash said she felt blindsided when she learned Tuesday that Truro Elementary will become Pre-Primary to Grade 4 school and that Grade 5 students will attend Truro Junior High in September and will become Grade 5-8 school.

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“I wish they consulted us beforehand and I wish they had engaged the parties they should have,” said Ash. “I just think this is rushed and they need to rethink this.”

Come September 2020, the remaining 48 school communities across the province will see universal pre-primary implemented at their schools.

The locations for the pre-primary programming is being shared with communities now and registration is open, said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development

“The Regional Centre’s for Education right now are working through their principals to inform communities on how pre-primary is going to be rolled out at each site and of course, solicit feedback,” said Churchill.

READ MORE: Bedford Grade 6 students to go to different school next year due to overcrowding

This is the final phase of the four-year pre-primary rollout and both Premier Stephen McNeil and Churchill, along with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, have said this is the most challenging year, as many of the schools involved are dealing with spatial constraints and increased population of students.

“We also knew in a few cases that we weren’t going to be able to house the (pre-primary) program in the school, so in a few cases we are still looking for commercial spaces in those communities,” said Doug Hadley, communications coordinator with HRCE.

There are three schools in the HRCE without space to accommodate pre-primary programming and they include Basinview Community School in Bedford, Park West School in Clayton Park, and Bedford South School.

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Hadley says HRCE hopes to announce locations in the coming weeks.

Ally Garber is the Basinview School Advisory Council chair and says spatial constraints and population growth has been an ongoing issue at basin view but has been critical of the final rollout saying the liberals plan has been poorly communicated.

“We’ve expressed concerns about pre-primary implementation, in that it has been rushed and it’s lacked consultation,’ said Garber. “The news that emerged last week about pre-primary being implemented here without any information behind it in terms of a lack of location and at et cetera, caused a great deal of panic.”

READ MORE: More questions as final Nova Scotia pre-primary programming rolls out

Garber said the school community learned Tuesday that the province would be looking to lease out commercial space to accommodate five pre-primary classes at Basinview Community School.

The government will invest another $17.5 million to complete the preprimary expansion program, bringing to total expansion costs to $51.4 million.

Full implementation will see 253 school communities receive pre-primary with more 7,000 four-year-old receiving free universal education.

To assist in the final expansion, community liaison committees will be set up to help in the transition and to hear concerns from parents and community members.