Chester backs community school in New Ross

by Michael Lee

  • <p>Council elected on August 24 to pursue a joint-use agreement with the South Shore Regional School Board in order to allocate resources to New Ross School.</p>

The Municipality of Chester has agreed to expand the community school model in New Ross.

Council elected on August 24 to pursue a joint-use agreement with the South Shore Regional School Board in order to allocate resources to New Ross School.

The plan, over time, will be to give the community greater access to the school building, similar to Forest Heights Community School and Aspotogan Consolidated Elementary School.

"I think it's fabulous," said Sheena Isenor, a member of the New Ross Community Partnership Committee. "This is a first step forward. It's a wonderful direction to take."

Isenor and others were present for council's decision, which will be formally approved at its next meeting.

The public gallery broke into applause following a successful vote from council to move ahead with the agreement.

Isenor said the committee has met for more than two years to try and figure out which direction to take for a community school.

She envisions having a daycare and other businesses use that space.

"It opens up the possibilities, so we can look at any rural community and see that having a shared partnership with such a great infrastructure is always a positive thing." said Isenor.

"So I can see it building great relationships."

Tina Connors, councillor for the New Ross area, said she was pleased that the joint-use agreement gained the full support of council.

"The school is such a vital piece of community infrastructure. It's certainly more than four walls. It's a part of the community. It always has been, and needs to continue, and community programming, in addition to the quality education that takes place there, is a good thing."

Connors said this will be a starting point for more discussions, whether it's opening the school for workshops, training courses, or as a meeting place in the community.

"I just think the possibilities are endless."

The New Ross Community Partnership Committee made a presentation to council on November 24, 2016, to ask for a joint-use agreement between the municipality and school board.

On July 7, superintendent Scott Milner confirmed the board would be open to exploring a partnership agreement.

The school has already coordinated some of its efforts with the New Ross Family Resource Centre.

Theresa Griffin, school board member for the Chester area, said she felt very positive about council's decision, adding that a community school is important to retaining young families.

Griffin commended the municipality as "exemplary" for showing how a local government can work with the school board in a constructive and reciprocal way, but said regular dialogue is needed.

"I've been advocating this kind of relationship and I'd like to see this kind of partnership spread throughout the entire school system."

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