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Councillor Urges Minister to Stop Closure of Ecole Beaufort
(Thursday, July 25/2002)-- Members of the Halifax Regional School Board should take their heads out of the sand and stop pretending that they are saving money by closing schools, Councillor Sue Uteck said today.
Councillor Uteck said the School Board is even demanding an additional up-front payment of $68,000 from the Province for "projected savings" as a result of planned closure of Ecole Beaufort in Halifax this year.
The District 13 Councillor said the School Board has never undertaken a study to actually prove that it saves money by closing schools. In fact, the minutes of the February 26th meeting state that Board Member Caroline McFarlane asked how much money had been re-invested in the closing of the Mary Lawson Elementary School, in Dartmouth, as well as B.C. Silver School in Spryfield.
The minutes state that Richard Morris, Executive Director of Executive Services, responded by saying " the Board had actually spent more money on the renovations of the receiving schools, than saved from operational savings."
The Councillor said "In other words, the Board is saying that none of the savings went into the classroom-- just into the Administration. Is the same thing happening at Oxford School and Gorsebrook School, the receiving schools?
She added "I am sure the same is true for other school closures. The Board's latest economic disaster will be the closure of Ecole Beaufort in Halifax."
Councillor Uteck said a Department of Education Task Force Study of the French Immersion program throughout HRM concluded that it was suffering as a result of the Board constantly switching students from school-to-school.
"In spite of what the report says, the School Board is doing it again. They are closing Ecole Beaufort, even though it was filled to capacity and the parents of these children wanted the Board to keep the school open. Once again, these students are being moved from school-to-school, " she said.
Councillor Uteck urged Education Minister Jane Purves to step in and stop the closure of Ecole Beaufort until the School Board could conclusively prove that it was saving money from school closures and that the savings were going into the classroom, not into Administration.
Councillor Sue Uteck