Students in Oxford, Cumberland Co., and on the South Shore will soon have new schools to attend, following an update to provincial school construction schedules. In both cases, new schools will be built instead of renovating existing schools, as was originally planned. “We are investing more than $400 million over eight years to provide safe, modern and healthy schools for the province’s children,” said acting Minister of Education Angus MacIsaac. The new school in Oxford will accommodate about 500 students in grades Primary to 12 and be built at a cost of $11.3 million. It is expected to open in September 2009 and replaces both Oxford Regional Elementary and Oxford Regional High School. The new South Shore school will be home to up to 350 French first language students from the region. It will cost $12 million and should open in September 2009. The new school replaces École de la Rive-Sud in Blockhouse. Due to logistical, site selection or financial pressures, some school construction and renovation schedules approved in 2000 and 2003 have changed. In some cases, the new schedule responds to changing board priorities. In others, the changes stem from the province’s fiscal management strategy. Funding for capital projects like school construction and renovation cannot be carried over from year to year. Re-allocating funding means that some projects will be delivered later than originally proposed. “The majority of school construction and renovation is proceeding on schedule — only a few schools will be delayed. In some cases, this is because we’re building a new school,” said Mr. MacIsaac. Oyster Pond Academy, a $12-million Grade Primary to 9 school on the Eastern Shore expected to open this fall, had to be re-tendered last year after quotations came in about $2 million over budget. Site preparation and foundation work is complete, and construction is expected to start later this spring. The school is scheduled to open in September 2007. Northside School in North Sydney, originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2007, will be delayed until September 2009. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board requested changes to the scope of the originally approved project and the location first recommended by the board’s site-selection team had environmental issues. Other locations have been recommended but none so far fully meet the community’s needs. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board also requested that a new junior high planned for Glace Bay open at the same time as the Northside School. Construction timing for the two Truro elementary schools announced last September will change but both should open in September 2007, as planned. Musquodobit Rural High, Stewiacke Elementary, the Waverly/L.C. Skerry Elementary and Halifax South Elementary schools are on schedule. (These are working names for the schools; their official names will be determined later by the school boards.) A new renovation project has also been approved — a $2.2 million upgrade to Middleton High School in the Annapolis Valley. The project will be completed in the 2008-09 school year. The project has received considerable community support. Of the 45 schools approved in 2003 for renovation, seven will see changes to their schedules. All other renovation projects will be completed by their assigned dates. The province has built 15 new schools since 2000 and others will be ready soon. The $11.6-million Barrington Municipal High will open to 720 students in grades 7 to 12 in the spring and the $6-million Rankin School in Iona will open for its 155 students in grades Primary to 12 in the fall. Together, the 15 schools were completed $21 million under budget. In 2003, the province approved construction of an additional 12 new schools, including the replacement for Queen Elizabeth and St. Patrick’s high schools in Halifax. The new Sir John A. Macdonald High School was approved in January 2004. School boards submit their priorities for new schools and renovations to the Department of Education. The departments ask its School Capital Construction Committee to review the boards’ priorities in order to develop a provincial priority list. The committee includes representatives from the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, and the departments of Education, Finance, and Transportation and Public Works.