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Montague Consolidated on its last legs, says home and school chairwoman

Debra Matheson picks up her daughter, Ruth, from school at Montague Consolidated. Ruth is in Kindergarten at the school, which some parents and the area’s MLA say is running out of space and in need of a replacement or upgrades.
Debra Matheson picks up her daughter, Ruth, from school at Montague Consolidated. Ruth is in Kindergarten at the school, which some parents and the area’s MLA say is running out of space and in need of a replacement or upgrades. - Mitch MacDonald

MONTAGUE - Debra Matheson knows there are a lot of positive factors to her children getting an education in Montague.

However, the current state of the Montague Consolidated School is not one of them.

The aging structure is getting rundown and is nearly out of space for its approximately 426 students, say parents with the Home and School Association and even the area’s Liberal MLA.

“We’re worried about the future,” said Matheson, who has a child in Kindergarten and Grade 3 attending the school. “You always understand how other schools have huge needs… but we do, too.”

Matheson, who chairs the Montague Consolidated Home and School Association, also has a son who is now 20 that attended the school.

She has seen how the school has deteriorated since then.

“It really is (rundown), there are often plumbing issues and heating issues,” said Matheson, who would like to see a replacement or upgrades made to the school.

The school was constructed as an open concept in the 1970s, with walls having been built since then to close in rooms.

One of the results of that has been a music room that isn’t soundproof.

“You can hear the music room throughout the school,” said Matheson, noting that there are also struggles to find enough space for students who need some one-on-one education.

When the newly-formed wellness teams visit the school, it requires the principal giving up his office for their meeting space while the vice-principal has no office, said Matheson.

A breakfast program, which feeds up to 230 kids, has been unable to expand and bring in more local food due to the lack of space in the small kitchen, she said.

There is also little room in the schools’ parking lot for parents picking up students, with some parking on the grass, although there is a gravel expansion planned.

Montague-Kilmuir MLA Allen Roach is also pushing on the province to replace what he’s described as an out-of-date facility.

“It’s one of the oldest, if not the oldest (school in P.E.I.),” said Roach. “It’s really dated and old and so far out of date in how it’s set up… We need to see some change.”

Roach said he was with Education Minister Jordan Brown at the site last spring and has toured it with previous education ministers throughout the past seven years, as well as with leaders from the Public Schools Branch (PSB).

“And many others have visited Montague Consolidated School and agreed that it desperately ‘needs’ to be replaced,” Roach stated in a letter to the editor published in Wednesday’s Guardian.

In the letter, Roach also called for a professional analyst with the education department to collaborate with the PSB to conduct a needs assessment, taking into account student population data, projections and learning practices.

He said he would also like to see the PSB include a replacement of Montague Consolidated as a priority in the management plan for the upcoming capital budget this fall.

“There is a dire need to replace the worn-out structure that currently does not meet or provide a healthy learning environment for our children. We want our children to learn in a modern school environment that reflects excellence and delivers high-quality education – meeting both current and future needs.”

The Guardian reached out to the Department of Education to comment on this story but did not receive a reply.

Mitch.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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