Eastern Shore High School Site Selection
For Immediate Release – October 29, 2018
The Musquodoboit Harbour & Area Chamber of Commerce & Civic Affairs (MHACCCA), heading up a coalition effort, today released a major study recommending without reservation that the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development locate the new Eastern Shore High School on a site somewhere in the core of Musquodoboit Harbour. Also bound with the study were more than 100 letters of support from businesses & individuals concerned about the future setting of ESDH.
“We are very happy with how people and organizations came together to produce this compelling approach to site selection,” said Chamber President Kent Smith. “Based on our analysis, of the communities in the catchment area, we believe no site other than Musquodoboit Harbour comes close to offering such a rich mix of benefits to our students.”
The study arrives 6 months after Education Minister Zach Churchill announced he would be developing a new site selection process, since all the local school boards were consolidated and control assumed by his Department. Thus far, the only information Churchill has made public involves doing a “technical evaluation” of potential sites.
“Of course we believe that any site selection process should start with such a ‘technical evaluation,’” Smith said. “We consider that a given. Our Business Case delves beyond the technical and focuses on answering the obvious question: What is best for our students?”
“We believe the education our ESDH students receive is not limited to the confines of the building” said Smith. “Right now, students from across the catchment area have numerous resources to enrich their education and protect their safety, literally within walking distance of their school: the recently-renovated HRM Public Library & Fitness Centre, the Old School, the Rink, the Hospital, the RCMP Detachment, the Walking Trails, and many more.”
The 21-page study looks at the rich array of services and resources in Musquodoboit Harbour and catalogs how each one improves the lives of ESDH students. For example, at the HRM Public Library, students teach struggling readers ages 5-10; learn de- stressing strategies from a Nova Scotia Health professional; learn music by borrowing through the instrument loan program; participate in a variety of collaborative learning projects; and learn from professional librarians how to make the most effective use of the library’s printed and electronic resources.
The study also reveals the conventional belief that there would be more students coming from the western side of the catchment area is not accurate. The Halifax Regional Education Centre’s Long Range Outlook (issued June, 2018) provides 10-year enrollment projections which indicate growth in the eastern side of the area. Smith adds “the province is projecting that enrollments will be down at two of the feeder schools on the western side of the catchment area, O’Connell Drive and Porters Lake,” and noted “enrollment at Oyster Pond Academy is projected to rise significantly. These projections severely question any rationale for siting the new school further west than it already is. In 10 years, the number of kids riding buses from the east is going to be going up, not down.”
Another important recommendation is that “Schools should be sited in accordance with the HRM Regional Plan for the catchment area in question.” The study notes that the potent cluster of resources in the Musquodoboit Harbour core is the result of decades of carefully thought-out decisions by federal, provincial, municipal governments, in addition to community organizations, to invest millions of dollars in all of this infrastructure.
“HRM has invested significant taxpayer dollars over the last two decades in the careful development of a long-range Regional Development Plan for the municipality” said Smith. “Given the amount of public consultation involved, this plan is the product of one of the most open, transparent, democratic processes of anything HRM or the province has ever done. In this report, we urge the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to live by the results of this democratic process.”
“In the end, our study shows that Musquodoboit Harbour has multiple and significant advantages for future students,” Smith said. “We trust the Department will make good use of our recommendations as the new site selection process unfolds.”
The document can be viewed online below, or downloaded in PDF format by clicking here.MHACCCA - Business Case for new ESDH in Musquodoboit Harbour (2018_10_23)