Nova Scotia government announced plans to build 8 schools

The Nova Scotia government plans to build eight schools over the next five years.

The province released its annual capital plan on Friday for building schools. Details on the projects are scarce.

“Our new school capital plan addresses school infrastructure and population growth in communities across Nova Scotia,” Education Minister Becky Druhan said during the announcement at New Germany Elementary School.

“So, in the coming years, students and teachers across the province will be moving into new buildings and learning in modern classrooms,”

What Druhan would not say is where six of the eight schools would go.

Friday’s plan includes a new consolidated school that will merge the elementary school and high school in New Germany. It also includes a replacement for École des Beaux-Marais in Porters Lake, which was announced by Druhan and Premier Tim Houston last month.

Spending breakdown

Druhan said news about the two other schools that would replace existing sites would come soon. There were also no details about four schools for Halifax Regional Municipality, other than that they would go in “regions of high growth.”

The minister said more details on those schools would come after the province identified and purchased land.

Friday’s plan includes $511 million to complete school projects previously announced. There is $263 million for the four replacement schools.

A budget figure has yet to be released for the new HRM schools.

There’s also $120 million for new modular additions at existing schools over the next three years and $54 million for repairs at existing schools.

Local parents and officials celebrated the news of the new school for New Germany, which will include pre-primary and a skilled trades center for high school students.

‘A new hub for this community’

Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, executive director of the South Shore Regional Center for Education, said the new school would have benefits that extend throughout the community.

“A new school for New Germany also means a new hub for this community,” she told people assembled for the announcement.

Blair Lipsett, chair of the New Germany Rural High School school advisory council, said people in the community are thrilled about getting a new school and, in particular, that it will include a skilled trades centre.

Lipsett said the center would create a clear path for students interested in the trades and help keep them in their home community.

“This will allow them to be on their site, in a modern facility, to really prime them to want to continue their education in those fields,” he said.

“We tend to have a lot of students who are from New Germany who are interested in the trades and, thankfully, those students who left New Germany to take a trades program want to stay in their community.”

Opposition members want more details

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill said he’d have liked more information from Friday’s announcement.

He said he would be watching to see if the government could get the schools built on time, given the shortage of trades people and delays previously announced as school projects have faced.

Churchill said he was pleased to see the continuation of the skilled trades program.

“We know what the skilled trades shortage is in our province and anything we can do to get more young people interested, I think we’ll all be better off.”

NDP education critic Suzy Hansen said it’s difficult to know if the schools for the Halifax area will be enough to meet demand given the lack of details from the government. She was hoping the minister would have provided more information.

“We don’t even know the configuration of the schools, whether we need elementary schools or high schools,” she said.

Hansen said he’s also concerned the amount of money set aside for school repairs is low in the context of the total amount of spending announced Friday.