New schools announced for NS

Nova Scotia’s education minister was in New Germany Friday to announce the construction of four new schools along with four others on the way for the Halifax region.

Becky Druhan says it’s part of the province’s plan to modernize and replace aging school infrastructure and meet the demands of a growing population.

“We’re building schools across the province, in all areas of the province,” said Druhan. “We’re building schools in rural areas and urban areas.”

The cost for those four new Halifax schools wasn’t part of the announcement.

Druhan said the decision to determine where schools were built relates to identified needs, both in terms of replacing aging infrastructure but also growth.

Nova Scotia’s population surpassed one million people in December 2021. And the province wants to double the population by 2060. To do that Nova Scotia will have to welcome 25,000 newcomers each year until then.

Druhan updated the province’s five-year school capital plan at a press conference Friday at the New Germany Elementary School. Students and staff there learned they’ll be moving into a new pre-primary to Grade 12 school by 2027.

It’s part of a $263 million announcement by the province, that will go toward building four new schools, including a previously announced pre-primary to Grade 8 school in Porters Lake with two other new schools to be announced later.

“Our new capital plan addresses aging school infrastructure and population growth in communities across Nova Scotia,” said Druhan. “We are working with our partners and taking a strategic approach to facility replacement and upgrades, as well as land acquisitions, across the province.”

The New Germany school will accommodate 500 students and features a skilled trades centre.

“The more we can expose students to different levels of education, but also different employment opportunities, as opposed to what we are currently offering them, the better,” said Blair Lipsett, chair of the New Germany Rural High School Advisory Council.

On top of the new schools, the province announced $120 million in spending over the next three years to install more modular classrooms. The education minister said they’re a short-term solution to the growing student population and enrollment needs at existing schools.

“Because we know we need to be agile and flexible,” said Druhan. “Because we can stand up modules in a matter of months and we can be very responsive and agile to community needs.”

As inflation drives up construction costs, the province says it won’t impact the building of school infrastructure that is needed and their department can find cost-saving efficiencies.

“We can look at how we can value-engineer things, so it’s not taking away from the actual need of the building,” said Masland. “But things may change inside but it would still provide a valued learning environment for our children.”

Druhan revealed the province was looking to build four new schools in the Halifax region but didn’t elaborate beyond that, saying more information would come when land and locations were secured.

The cost for those four new Halifax schools wasn’t part of the announcement.

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