Junior high students from two schools in Bedford will be brought together this fall following a tireless meeting Wednesday evening that split the community.
Halifax Regional School Board has voted to move Bedford Junior High School students as well as grades seven to nine students at Bedford South School into Charles P Allen High School once it’s vacated in September.
More than 200 people packed a Dartmouth board room, with some having to stand at the back or sit on the floor as the meeting extended late into the evening.
After hearing nearly four hours worth of passionate pleas from parents and students of either schools, the board unanimously agreed to merge the students.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the entire community of Bedford,” said board member Steve Warburton. “Whatever happens tonight, we’re still neighbours tomorrow.”
Many board members noted Bedford South — currently a primary to grade nine facility — is overcrowded.
“This situation needs fixing now,” said board member Cindy Littlefair.
A staff report says 695 students are currently enrolled at Bedford South, with its capacity set at up to 688.
A transition team — which will include students, school board staff, administration and staff from both schools — will be formed to facilitate the consolidation, a staff report said.
The team will also decide on a school identity, including signage, sport uniforms, colours and a school mascot, it said.
A consultation process will be held to decide the name for the school, it said.
The board could have opted to only send Bedford Junior High students to the high school.
During the meeting parents and students of Bedford Junior High and Bedford South School took to the microphone to voice their opinions, with more than 40 public presentations.
Many argued that Bedford South is overcrowded and sending students from grades seven to nine to Charles P. Allen High School in September would help alleviate space.
“My daughter is in a portable with 30 children and it’s not acceptable,” said Alexis Pacey, who has two children at the school.
But several parents raised concerns about the social impacts of putting about 600 students together in a “super-sized” junior high school, a phrase that came up numerous times throughout the presentations.
— Metro Halifax