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Parents demand province open new French school by '09

by Stacey Colwell

 COUNTY - Parents at École de la Rive-Sud are sick and tired of waiting for the Department of Education to make good on its promises of a new facility for the woefully inadequate one in the formerly abandoned Blockhouse Elementary School.

 "It was with outrage that parent members of the home and school association of École de la Rive-Sud learned this past May that the construction of their new school would be once again postponed," said a June 19 press release from the home and school association and the Federation of Acadian Parents of Nova Scotia.

 "On January 27, 2006, after years of continued pressure from parents of the region, the minister of Education promised that a new school would be constructed and opened by September of 2009."

 Last spring, Education Minister Karen Casey visited the current school and assured administrators all the timelines were in place to allow completion of the Primary to Grade 12 facility on schedule.

 The goal at that time was to announce a site in May 2007, followed by planning for design of the new facility and 12 to 15 months of construction.

 The French school board had submitted three proposed sites in the Bridgewater area, which were reviewed and subsequently rejected by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

 Last month, the province announced the opening would be delayed until 2010.

 "The usage of École de la Rive-Sud at the Blockhouse site was meant to be a temporary solution. Ten years later, we are still in the same building," said Marcia Samson of the home and school association.

 She said the gym is unsuitable for high school students and there is no cafeteria or science lab.

 "Portables have been ordered for next year to accommodate students in the fall, and the list of health and safety issues continues to grow.

 "Recently, following two incidents related to problems with the electrical system, the administration was forced to evacuate students and staff from the school. The situation is becoming impossible."

 Ms Samson's association and the Acadian parents' federation have received no acknowledgment to written requests for a meeting with Ms Casey to discuss their concerns.

 Federation president Camille Maillet said postponing construction of the school compromises students' rights to an education in French.

 "Several parents have been choosing to remove their children from the school because this building is no longer suitable, it is becoming a safety concern and the construction of the new building is constantly being delayed."

 Therefore, the two groups are asking the minister of Education to respect the original timeline and open the new school next year.

 "The situation has lasted long enough and these postponements are simply no longer acceptable … failure to recognize this request will result in parents taking further action available to them."

 The Department of Education did not respond to questions about the issue.



posted on 06/24/08
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