The South Shore Regional School Board (SSRSB) will not be appealing the ruling of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court that overturned its motion to close Petite Rivière Elementary School (PRES) at the end of the 2017-18 school year. As well, because the motion included Pentz Elementary School (PES), the SSRSB requested permission from the Minister of Education to keep PES open.
“The 2013 motions called for the closure of both schools,” said Theresa Griffin, SSRSB Chair. “In light of Justice Christa Brothers’ decision to keep Petite Rivière Elementary open, it is only right that Pentz Elementary remain open, as student enrollment, building condition and budget implications are almost identical.”
Justice Brothers stated the 2013 motion to close PRES was a conditional motion. The Justice ruled the conditions of the motion were not met. Since the motion to close PRES and PES was essentially the same, relied on similar data over the same time period and under the same conditions, the closure motion for PES is not in effect either. Therefore, in consultation with the Minister of Education, PES will remain open for September 2018.
Griffin adds “While we are not appealing the ruling of Justice Brothers, we are very disappointed with the tone of her ruling, the statements in the ruling, and the implication that free discussion among elected board members may be used against them in a judicial review. However, in light of the decision, we feel it is only right that Pentz students and families have the opportunity to keep their school open as well.”
The motions to close both Petite Rivière Elementary and Pentz Elementary were approved in March 2013 after a full school review process was undertaken as per the Education Act. At that time, school boards across Nova Scotia were encouraged by the Department of Education to look for budget efficiencies, to address the decline in student enrollment, and to reduce their excess square footage.
“Several Pentz Elementary families indicated their desire to have their school to remain open when the original motion was made; however they understood the factors that went into the decision. Since then, we have worked closely with them to help the transition,” said Scott Milner, SSRSB Superintendent of Schools. “Although they were prepared to send their children to Hebbville Academy in September 2018, we believe it is only fair to keep their school open. Pentz Elementary and Petite Rivière Elementary are sister schools with many similar traits. To have Petite remain open while Pentz closed would not have been right.”