YARMOUTH – I made several attempts to hold meetings to try to come up with a viable action plan and strategy to save the Arcadia School, to no avail. Our group dwindled down to about four members. I was sure that the old junior high site would be selected for a new elementary school and I wanted to get a good number of people together to rebuttal that. It just didn't happen. It appeared people moved on.
I truly believe that some causes are worth the fight and I strongly believed saving Arcadia School was one.
We knew that the final decision on where the new school site was going to be was with the education minister. We should have been lobbying the education department and making noise, keeping this in the media and letting them know we weren't going away.
Again though, getting numbers together just didn't happen. Laying back and letting the chips fall, well, they don't always fall where you want them to, or in the right places.
When we went to our local MLA he did attend a couple of meetings, but when asked what his government’s intentions were on this matter he said they weren't getting involved with the board’s process.
Everything that came out when the auditor general’s reports surfaced is what people have been trying to say all along. In my view, we are lacking strong leadership.
The school board’s boundary report that emerged June 3 has given the public some ease about where their children will attend school in the future. In my catchment area my children will have to go to the old junior high site. I wrote the education minister asking what prompted her to choose this site. In my view, looking at square footage, it isn't the most logical site. I asked if she physically came down to view the sites, and was interested to know what the opinion of TIR and other departments was. I have not received an answer.
My thought is the site was chosen because of the existing gym. I noted that the school was on a very busy street and surrounded by pave parking areas. The board has already downloaded the old high school site to the town, so that area is off the table for use.
Where is the play area going to be? Are there plans to allow small children to cross the road to access the Central School play area? There are many unanswered questions.
I do think, however, that these new boundaries make much more sense then the last set that were drafted. It seems as though the board listened to people’s concerns from the 2014 boundary meeting.
I understand boards are faced with tough decisions and there are cases where school closures make sense. But the Arcadia school matter is much different. The school never fit the criteria to be placed under review from the get-go. The three components are: the structure, which passed; education offered, again a pass; and enrollment numbers, a pass. A report from Dr. Jim Gunn recommended keeping the school open.
The other schools that were facing closure had declining enrollment numbers and structural issues. That is what makes this whole scenario puzzling. The saying "If it isn't broke, don't fix it" just made complete sense in the Arcadia school case.
I believe the entire closure was based on a new gym. Plymouth had one, Arcadia did not and the schools are in close proximity. Plymouth numbers were dwindling, so use Arcadia students to build the numbers up.
Yes, the Arcadia school lacks a new gym and is an older structure, but it is still in great standing condition. The outdoor space is phenomenal, as is the trail that surrounds it.
You may say, get over it, and I guess we will have to. But it’s a travesty to close the doors on such a vibrant school.