SOC announces options

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PICTOU — After a long community process and extensive research, the Pictou School Options Committee announced what they are planning on proposing to the school board for the fate of the Pictou schools.

It was announced at an SOC public meeting near the end of last year that one of the options that would be presented would very likely be a Primary to 12 option. But at the meeting last Thursday, the committee announced that along with building a new P to 12 school as their first option they are also presenting a second option that would require renovations rather than construction.

The meeting kicked off with a summary of what things would look like for the night and many thanks being expressed to everyone who worked on the project so far. SOC facilitator Lawrence Currie was up first, speaking about some of the letters and advice they had received during the process and how they were helpful in the process of research and decision making.

“People wrote openly and honestly about their opinion,” he said, mentioning that a couple of the letters were included in the presentation.

During their presentation on January 24 to the Superintendent of Schools for Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, the committee will make a presentation on topics such as student learning, utilization of the school buildings, the small school option, finances, impact on the community as well as their recommendations and a five-minute video.

After a video presentation that was created by Pictou Academy students at the last meeting, the media company Media Ladder, located in Pictou, offered to donate their time to make a five-minute video to go along with the committee’s presentation.

The options were discussed in more detail. Option one sees a brand new Grade Primary to Grade 12 school being built in the town to meet the needs of all the students. The second option sees the high school students moving into the McCulloch school and having renovations completed to make the school appropriate for high school students; this option also sees the school board purchasing the elementary school building which they are currently leasing.

After the presentation was over, the committee opened up the microphone to anyone who had any comments or questions. Jim Ryan, new Pictou mayor and former principal of Pictou Academy, was one of the first people up to the mic to ask if the committee was going to make it specific in their presentation whether one option was preferred over the other; he was assured they would be.

He also approached the microphone later on to voice his support as mayor for the options and the work that the committee has done.

“I would like to think that a new P-12 building… it would be exciting. I think it would address all kinds of concerns,” Ryan said.

Some of the other questions that came up included whether the committee could talk openly to members of the school board during the process, which was revealed that they could not but citizens were assured that when the process was over the committee would be filing a report outlining the pros and cons of the SOC process.

It was also made clear before the meeting ended that for those interested in seeing the whole presentation, they can obtain copies of it after January 25, the day after the superintendent’s presentation. Copies of it will be available at town hall, the Pictou Library and the McCulloch Heritage and Genealogy Centre.

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