Thursday, March 28, 2013

Consolidated High: school closures

Nova Scotia is a cash-strapped province, and the varying schoolboards across the province are looking at shutting down small schools wherever possible to save on costs. The Chronicle-Herald had two such stories today. The South Shore Regional School Board and the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board are looking at closing and consolidating over a dozen schools between them.

The story for school closures and consolidations is always the same: the school boards will say that they are strapped for cash (and they are) but the small towns or villages that are losing their schools will be afraid that they're losing control over their children's  education. The same has applied in the past when various school boards were amalgamated. Parents want to have local control over their kids' schooling.

To a certain extent, I can't blame them for this. People want to know their children's teachers, the people who watch them on the playground. They don't want to feel like their child is going to see a stranger for six or seven hours a day, or that they'll be far from the safe reach of their parents. But at a certain point you have to consider the ability of the public school system to give a quality education for the tax dollars available. Schools in every small town costs money - a lot more than bussing costs, even with today's fuel prices.

Each dollar you don't spend on another principle goes to hiring additional teachers. Each supervisor's salary you don't spend goes towards books and computers. Each building repair you don't have to do means more sports or arts time for your kids. Yeah, losing local control is nice, and in a fantasy world, we'd have the money to keep kids local. But it's no longer feasible to do so in rural Nova Scotia, and we shouldn't pretend.

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