REPORT TO THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION ON THE OPTIONS
FOR EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR THE CHILDREN
OF THE MACDONALD COMPLEX
In October, 2002, the MacDonald High School Complex in Dominion had experienced a subsidence event that forced the closure of the Grades 6 - 12 building for safety reasons.
As an interim solution for the instructional services to the MacDonald Complex children, the following was carried out by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board:
1) Grades P - 6 remained in Dominion at the elementary building on the MacDonald site. Two rooms were refurbished to accommodate the two Grade 6 classes. Physical Education classes were accommodated at neighboring schools;
2) Grades 7 - 12 were bussed to Breton Education Centre and will complete the year as MacDonald Complex within Breton Education Centre with their same staff and administration. An additional teaching staff member was added. Physical renovations were carried out to seventeen program spaces well as the administration area at Breton Education Centre.
ADI Ltd. was contracted by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to carry out an investigation. The study had three objectives:
1) To determine what happened;
2) To determine why it happened; and,
3) To indicate if it would happen again and determine the cost of refurbishing the Complex.
After an extensive investigation, ADI reported to Senior Management on January 6th that:
1) Subsidence caused the event;
2) It was caused by a pillar collapse in the Phalen Seam and the flooding of the mines was a contributing factor that caused the subsidence and the ultimate damage to the school;
3) It would cost 3.5 - 5 million dollars to refurbish the school and the subsidence event could reoccur. The Department of Education concluded that an 8 - 10 million dollar cost for the school was more realistic when you added the cost of stabilizing the site.
An urgent meeting was asked of the Department of Education to look at the long-term solution. Throughout a number of meetings involving the Department of Education, the MacDonald Complex community and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, the following events transpired:
• The Department of Education indicated that the building was not to be repaired because of the projected cost of 8 - 10 million dollars which was attributed to the stabilization of the structure;
• The Department of Education indicated that Grades 10 - 12 would no longer be available in Dominion. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board agreed;
• The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board asked for special funding for a Primary - Nine site in Dominion. The Department of Education indicated that the only funding available was through the priority list of the new capital construction committee. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board refused to alter its priority list;
• The Department of Education requested that the Board submit a long-term plan for the program delivery for the MacDonald Complex;
• The Steering Committee of MacDonald became dedicated to a Primary - Twelve structure built in Dominion. The Steering Committee of MacDonald Complex are now supportive of a Primary - Nine school in Dominion.
RECOMMENDATIONS & OPTIONS
Students deserve to feel safe and be safe, when they go to school. That means having clean schools that are in good repair. Schools play a significant role in promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles. The government of Nova Scotia considers recommendations from the School Capital Construction Committee on future construction projects. The School Capital Construction Committee prioritizes the requests according to the condition of the school to be replaced, the adequacy of space available for students and for the delivery of core programs and the opportunity for savings.
As taxpayers invest significantly in the construction and maintenance of schools, these facilities should be used for the maximum benefits of the students and the community. Inherit in this statement is an intent to link schools to community groups, youth groups and not-for-profit groups within the community. The above remarks come from the Minister’s Document, “Learning For Life - Success For All Students”. The MacDonald Complex community further assumes that it is the responsibility of the Government of Nova Scotia to provide each Nova Scotia student access to educational opportunities that enable them to meet basic skills in and to expect to fulfill their personal educational goals and dreams in high standard quality facilities.
Many research projects have been dedicated to the topic of non-educational impacts on communities who lose their schools. Some of the findings have suggested that community impact on non-educational issues are profound and significant. Schools do have a positive economic impact on their community; schools do provide a core of social related activities; and schools do provide a sense of economic development opportunities. As a Board, we are very aware of these impacts and we try to balance the equation of improving education while achieving greater economies against the communities insistence that their
school is the heart and soul of the community. It is our intent to ask the Department of Education to try to balance a similar sentiment when given the opportunity to keep or withhold a building in Dominion. It is not our purpose to suggest to the Department of Education where they may get the money for emergencies or for special occurrences, but it is our responsibility to ask that they have monies available for the construction of a Primary - 9 school in the Dominion area.
RECOMMENDATIONS & OPTIONS
We put forward for your consideration the following options and recommendations:
A) CONTINGENCY PLAN (TO JUNE 28, 2003)
In the event of subsidence at the elementary building, the following
will occur: MacDonald Primary - Six students will be housed as a separate
entity at Bridgeport School;
Recommendation: The Department of Education fund the additional
program space required at Bridgeport.
B) SEPTEMBER, 2003:
1) Grade Primary - Six students will be housed in the present MacDonald
a) The Department of Education immediately add extra rooms to
accommodate the required spaces for Music, French, Art, Computer Lab,
Literacy and Resource programs;
b) The Department of Education fund the transportation to Physical
2) Grades Seven - Twelve students are directed to the Glace Bay area
schools with the transfer option to Breton Education Centre. Transportation will be available to both sites.
a) The Department of Education provide the funding for transportation
for students bussed to Glace Bay and Breton Education Centre
C) LONG-RANGE OPTIONS:
With the consultation from the Dominion S.O.S. Committee, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School brings forth one option for the education programs and services for the children within the MacDonald Complex.
To build a Primary - 9 school in Dominion with all amenities that they enjoyed on the MacDonald Complex (Grades 10 - 12 students to be integrated at Glace Bay High School with a transfer option to Breton Education Centre).