Another step has been taken toward what is expected to be the eventual closure of Sackville’s aging middle school.
New Brunswick’s minister of education sent a letter recently to members of the Anglophone East’s District Education Council (DEC), giving his approval to the DEC’s recommendation to close Marshview Middle School. The recommendation, which came in December during a DEC meeting at Lou MacNarin School in Dieppe in a 9-1 vote, calls for the closure of the 70-year-old school and to move forward with plans to either relocate the middle school students to Salem Elementary School, which would be converted into a K-8 school, or to build a brand new school.
Minister Dominic Cardy said the next step for the DEC will be to include the project request on their major capital request list, which comes forward in May.
“The approval of a midlife upgrade or a new school will then be contingent upon the project being approved and funded as part of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development capital budget,” Cardy wrote in his letter.
If the midlife upgrade study for Salem Elementary School is approved, and the resulting study recommends a new school instead of a midlife upgrade, then any request to close Salem would be required to go through the standard Policy 409 sustainability study process, he continued.
Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton said it has become clear, in speaking with students, parents and educators, that Marshview’s closure is long past due and that “the school infrastructure is old and no longer suitable as a healthy learning environment.”
“The next step is to figure out what type of infrastructure is the best option to support our students,” she said.
Mitton said the feasibility study on Salem will determine whether the school should be given an upgrade and whether it has the capacity to be expanded to fit all of the students from Kindergarten to Grade 8.
“My understanding is that some sort of study of Salem already happened, so I will be looking into that to make sure we don’t repeat work if it isn’t needed,” she said.
The MLA said there have been many interesting discussions in Sackville about community-supported education and she herself has had a number of meetings with Cardy on this topic.
“I have shared that we have a strong tradition of community support in our schools but we need infrastructure investment to complement that.”
She said unfortunately, a lot of these decisions do not get made at the community level, which leaves people feeling that their voices are not heard if decisions are being made in Fredericton.
“I am working to speak about this issue in the legislature and to make sure the minister of education understands what’s needed in Sackville and in the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar.”