Barton response to closure report

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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Adhering to the school review process, a study committee at Barton Consolidated School has submitted their official response to the Tri-County Regional School Board's impact assessment report about the possible closure of the school.

[Related: Barton parents and students stand up for school]


[Related: One parent's presentation (Harold Alexander) ]

The report recommends the board should not close the school because it "continues to soundly deliver the Public School Program, it does not need any major operational nor capital work in the near future, it delivers and often exceeds the Physical Education outcomes without a full-size gymnasium, and it has one of the best, if not the best menus in the TCRSB, daily offering children healthy home-cooked meals."

The committee's response points out that enrollment has declined to the mid-50s from almost 80 students just six years ago but projections show enrollment stabilizing in the low 50s. The board hired Dr. James Gunn to assess Digby County School for possible review in 2010 and his report was clear that Barton "need not be identified to be considered for closure."

On the point of transportation, the report shows that some Barton students already spend 50 minutes on the bus twice a day and sending them to Digby can only increase that.

The board's report suggests Barton is lacking because it doesn't have a cafeteria or gymnasium but the committee's response is that Digby Elementary would not be able to provide any better service. Digby currently has no operational cafeteria nor a Hot Lunch program. Barton meanwhile provides "hot, healthy home-cooked meals five days a week" and a healthy breakfast three times a week.

Students in grade primary to two at Digby Elementary take gym in a converted classroom or the cafeteria. The committee's response also points out that the Department of Education is encouraging more and more activity outside of gymnasium walls. Of the 200 outcomes the TCRSB ask Physical Education teachers to aim for with elementary school children, not one of them requires a gym but 28 of them are specific to the outdoors. Several require access to a wooded area, a campsite or a beach. All of which are available along Barton School's outdoor trail.

The committee's response highlights several programs which are unique to Barton or where the school has had particular success.

Barton School has participated for six years in the Health Promoting School initiative. It was the first school in the TCRSB to reach its health promoting goals and it is the only Health Promoting school in Digby County.

Barton also runs a Grandparents-go-back-to-school program where students learn disappearing skills like rug-hooking, knitting and knot tying. The program helps the students connect with their ancestry and heritage and develop relationships with earlier generations.

The building itself, say the committee's response, is in great shape. They have two furnaces only seven years old, either of which could heat the whole school alone. The board has recently installed new thermal pane windows throughout the school and the sloping roof was also recently shingled. The board's report points out the lack of a mechanical ventilation system in the school but every room has windows that open bringing in fresh air from St. Mary's Bay.

The board will vote on the closure of Barton School at a special meeting on Tuesday, March 27 in Yarmouth.

[Related: Barton parents and students stand up for school]


[Related: One parent's presentation (Harold Alexander) ]

Organizations: Barton School, Tri-County Regional School Board, Digby County School Health Promoting School Department of Education Bay.The board

Geographic location: Yarmouth

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