© Ashley Thompson
The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board must now decide where to send such Newport Station District School students as Eileen Benoit, Jacob Benoit and Gregory Francis after deciding to close the school by no later than June 30, 2016.
Declining enrolment and steady increases in operational costs cut short the future of Newport Station District School, which will be closed within the next few years.
With a projected enrolment of just 74 students for 2012/13, the small, rural Hants County school was one of two under consideration for closure by the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. The board held a special meeting March 21 in Berwick to decide on the fate of the Newport Station District School and Annapolis Royal Regional Academy.
About 30 people attended the meeting to hear the board’s decisions, which board member Vic Fleury said would be made “as judiciously as possible.”
“I recognize the stress and strain this process puts on everyone,” he added.
“But we have to make decisions from a cost-effective point of view and also take into consideration the education needs of students.”
Board member Doug Fraser, who represents Newport Station and five other schools in the Hants West area, wondered if there was any potential for future population growth that might give merit to the idea of keeping Newport Station open. Stuart Jamieson, the board’s director of finance and operations, responded, saying it would require “significant development” to generate enough population to warrant keeping the doors of the school open, especially given the “substantial amount of capacity” forecast for the other schools in the area.
Before the motion to close the school was voted on, several board members expressed concern about the student population being split and sent to separate schools.
"I think it’s imperative that the students be kept together," said Fraser.
The verdict to close the school no later than June 30, 2016, was reached unanimously.
With the closure now a done deal, the school board will turn its focus to developing a transition plan for students who will be affected by the pending closure.
The board also voted to close Annapolis Royal Regional Academy and transfer students to Annapolis West Education Centre following renovations to that building. The school closure decisions, which were reached pursuant to Education Act guidelines, are final and there will be no appeal process.