SACKVILLE, N.B. - The options have been laid out on the table and now community members will have their turn to make their voices heard about what they’d like to see happen to their local schools.
The Anglophone East School District held the first of three public meetings Tuesday night in Sackville, providing information to parents, teachers and other concerned residents about the various scenarios the community might want to consider as the closure of Marshview Middle School looms on the horizon.
“There’s going to be some positive changes to your infrastructure in Sackville, something I think the community’s been waiting for for a long time,” said Gregg Ingersoll, district superintendent. “But it’s just a question of what those changes will look like.”
Ingersoll said the district is in the process of carrying out a sustainability study on Marshview, as it is operating under capacity and requires significant, costly repairs. The district education council (DEC) voted in May to carry out the study under provincial Policy 409 as part of its capital spending plan.
Originally built in 1949 as a high school with a capacity of more than 600 students, Marshview now has an enrollment of 271 students from Grades 5 to 8. And the school requires more than $2.34 million in deferred maintenance work – including upgrades to the ventilation system, washrooms, walkway, heating system, floors, site improvements, among others. Annual operating costs for the school come in at around $119,000 – with nearly half that amount spent on heating costs.
Several possibilities were brought forward for consideration and the community will have a chance to make a case for those various options during an upcoming public meeting Nov. 12 at Tantramar Regional High School. This will be followed eight days later by another public meeting at Lou MacNarin School in Dieppe in which the DEC will discuss the study and vote on whether to close Marshview, and merge the students into the two other existing schools in Sackville or build a new one.
Ingersoll said it’s important for the DEC to hear from the public before it makes that decision.
“That’s what this process is about … so the public has a chance to say what they’d like to see happen.”
Once the council makes a decision, it will forward the request to the province's education minister, who can accept or reject it.
To make a presentation at the public meeting on Nov. 12, the public is asked to register online . Residents can also provide their input by posting their comments or questions on the school district website or by emailing ASDEsustainability@nbed.nb.ca.
Options for consideration
1. Maintain the status quo – Ingersoll said the intent of the study at this point is to close Marshview. Because of its age and condition, the school would not likely qualify for a “midlife upgrade” and would be limited to maintenance upgrades. But if it were the desire of the community, “we could leave everything the way it is and keep moving on.”
2. Close Marshview Middle School and reconfigure Salem Elementary to a K-5 school and Tantramar High to a Grade 6-12. Ingersoll said in this scenario, about 70 students would go to Salem while about 200 would be moved into TRHS. This would require midlife upgrades to both schools, as neither is built to handle the additional capacity. He said while TRHS may seem like it has a lot of extra space, it was not built for middle school students and would therefore require different amenities to make it work. A midlife upgrade of Salem is estimated at $8.3M while changes to TRHS would cost approximately $7M.
3. Close Marshview Middle, build a new K-5 and a new 6-12. Ingersoll said a new K-5 school is estimated at $19M while a new 6-12 school would cost about $29M.
4. Close Marshview Middle and build a new K-8. A new K-8 school, which would be built for about 625 students, is estimated at about $25M. Ingersoll said with this option, a midlife upgrade would likely still be required for TRHS, at a cost of about $4M.
5. Close Marshview, Salem and TRHS and build a new K-12 school. Ingersoll said a K-12 school in Sackville would be a very large building, serving a capacity of about 1,000 students. He said most K-12 schools in New Brunswick consist of only about 300 students, although there are a couple of schools that do have approximately 650 students. “Not to say it’s not possible to have one that large but it’s just something that’s not been done before in New Brunswick.” A K-12 school is estimated at about $41M.
6. Other options brought forward by the public during the study.