Saint Mary’s Elementary will stay open, but in a strange twist students and teachers at St. Patrick’s-Alexandra applauded yesterday after learning their school would close.
The Halifax Regional School Board initially decided to close the North End school after this year. But in a dramatic vote, eight board members tied on whether to delay the closure to September of 2011.
That gave the deciding vote to chair Irvine Carvery. He quickly announced he would support the delay, sparking a standing ovation from the packed crowd at Citadel High.
“I think it’s reasonable to give the community two years to adjust to their students having to go to new schools,” said Carvery, who is from the area of St. Pat’s-Alexandra.
“I’m not entirely happy with it. I’m of the opinion that we need a new kind of energy in our community.”
The board voted unanimously to keep Saint Mary’s school open, despite concerns with the physical facilities.
But they could not make the same case for St. Pat’s-Alexandra, which houses students from primary to Grade 9. The school has only 85 students enrolled this year, about one tenth of its 828 student capacity. Several board members said parents in the area are choosing to send their children to other schools.
St. Pat’s-Alexandra principal Kenneth Fells was saddened by the 5-3 vote to close the school.
“None of the folks up there talked about transition time, what the transition’s going to be like for our children to go to other schools. It’s going to be very hard,” said Fells.
“Our program is adapted to the students in the school. You can’t tell me all the resources we impart at our school are going to go to Joseph Howe or these other schools.”
Fells predicts the news will cause another hit to enrolment. If it continues to drop, the board may close the school down before September, 2011.