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Antigonish Co. community members say they're happy with status quo decision for schools

A School Advisory Council member at an Antigonish Co. school says she and other community members are ecstatic that no changes are coming to the Dr. J.H. Gillis feeder system.

Rochelle MacKenzie, the former SAC chair of H.M. MacDonald Elementary, spoke alongside Dr. Cathy MacDonald in support of the school before Strait Regional School Board members voted on motions at a special meeting on Wednesday night.

They first voted to keep Antigonish Education Centre after the P3 school's lease expires in 2020.

Minutes later, they defeated a motion to close H.M. MacDonald as of June 30.

After the meeting, MacKenzie told The Hawk she thinks the two schools are assets to the community.

"Both schools, they have such things to offer our students," she said, "and we really have to put the students first in this whole equation and think beyond what the dollar value might be."

MacKenzie and MacDonald's presentation focused on H.M. MacDonald's age, utilitization and operating costs, among other things.

They also contended that a transportation boundary review should have been carried out prior to a motion on the school's future.

Melissa Hines, an Antigonish Co. parent, presented alongside Kelly Teasdale prior to Wednesday night's votes.

She said three of her children currently attend H.M. MacDonald, and that another is slated to attend in two years.

Hines said after the vote that she thinks closing the school would have been a hasty move.

"I think closing it in two months without doing a proper review goes against anything the board stands for," she said, "and I'm glad they made the right decision to go ahead and keep us open."

Hines and Teasdale made arguments in favour of smaller schools such as H.M. MacDonald during their presentation.

Both said the school played a role in their decisions to move back to Antigonish Co. with their families.


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