There were cheers and hugs last night as Alderney Elementary School in Dartmouth was saved from closure.
The school is less than half full, with 101 students out of a capacity for 220. But the Halifax Regional School Board didn’t feel comfortable sending the students to Hawthorne and Southdale-North Woodside.
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Many board members said they worried about the safety of students walking along busy streets to the other schools, and that the facilities at those schools weren’t up to par.
The vote had parents and students jumping to their feet in excitement.
“The key thing, I think, is that every child that comes to this school is known by name. And there’s no bullying. It’s a real community,” said Sarah Lake, whose daughter, Jasmine Lawson, attends the school.
“All the teachers and the parents, we just felt passionately (about keeping the school open). Like, Jasmine was asking her friends at our church to pray.”
It wasn’t all good news for the Alderney community. One key factor for several board members was a possible housing development that could replace nearby Penhorn Mall and cause more demand for a school.
But several members said the school might have to be closed down the road if that development doesn’t come to fruition.
“If the board decides this school is good tonight, if Penhorn Mall (development) doesn’t pass then it doesn’t guarantee this is not going to happen again in a couple years time,” said board member Chris Poole.
“It’s a writing on the wall type of thing.”
On Tuesday, the board decided to keep Saint Mary’s School open in Halifax, but to close St. Patrick’s-Alexandra in 2011.