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Councillor Concerned About Suggested School Closures
(Wednesday, February 20/08)-- North End Councillor Patrick Murphy said today he has deep concerns about a consultant's report recommending the closure of St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay and St. Catherine's elementary schools on peninsular Halifax.
Councillor Murphy said the recommended closure of these two schools would not only mean considerable travel distances for school children impacted by the move, but destroy the sense of community in these two areas.
The Councillor said the consultant's examining the future projected student populations and demands for new facilities for the Halifax Regional School Board should provide more opportunities for residents and parents in these two school areas to voice their opinion and comments on the recommendations.
Councillor Murphy, who was unable to attend the fourth "Imagine Our Schools" meeting at Citadel High School last evening because of Regional Council's regular meeting last evening at City Hall, the consultants do not appreciate the social fabric of these two communities and how important the schools are to their residents.
"St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay and St. Catherines School are important focal points in these communities. They serve as a meetings place for area residents to come are discuss local issues. They are like a part of the family..these schools mean a lot to them and their children. Some families have sent generations of students to these schools," he said.
Councillor Murphy said the HRM Regional Plan and HRMBy Design place strong emphasis on local neighborhoods and the need for greater housing density on peninsular Halifax and this would mean new generations of students requiring school facilities.
"There is concern among some members on Regional Council that the School Board's consultants are using future population projections that are much different from those we developed through our Regional Planning process. This must be addressed and the consultant's must realize the community is going to have a lot more to say about what they are recommending," Councillor Murphy said.
Over the past three years, Councillor Murphy has contributed funding from HRM Capital Projects and District 11 Capital Funds of more than $160,000 towards the cost of new playgrounds in the north end at St. Joseph-Alexander McKay, St. Catherine's and St. Stephan's School (included in 2008/2009 Budget).
Councillor Patrick Murphy
District 11 (Halifax North End)