Moncton — In light of the recent provincial court decision to have the Department of Education reconsider the closures of 2 Saint John-area schools, a group of concerned grandparents is petitioning the government to reopen the one-room Tankville School in Anglophone School District South.
Earl Schofield, spokesperson for the Golden Age Thinkers (GoAT), said their plan calls for the 135-year-old Tankville School, closed in 1967, to be re-established as the focal point of community activity and values. The building itself, currently a summertime museum, is the only one of its kind in the province.
“Tankville School is in fine shape. Nothing wrong with it, so why not use it for its original purpose?” asked Schofield. “It’s a shame that it’s only open in the summer. It could easily hold the 40-odd kids in the area, including my 2 grandchildren. It was good enough for us when I went in the late ’40s, so it should be good enough now.”
Schofield said that everything a contemporary school needs is already inside the building, including a wood stove, old books and double desks. He added that children could also benefit from some practical work and exercise, like splitting and piling firewood.
“It even has a good old-fashioned strap,” claimed Schofield, “and it’s all worked-in from tunin’ hundreds of incorrigible young bottoms. If you ask me, that’s the kind of discipline that’s lacking nowadays. I took my lumps, and look at me now! Kept me in line, let me tell you.”
The grey-haired activist admits sustainability is a major issue — the sustainability of an aged community with a steadily declining population — and empathizes with those fighting to keep Brown’s Flat Elementary (43 students), Lorne Middle (50 students), and Coles Island (30 students) schools open.
The hope of maintaining their schools was revived earlier this month when Provincial Court Judge Darrell Stephensen said it was not reasonable for the education minister to accept the district education council’s decision to close the schools, because the process “was clearly non-compliant with department policy, and deeply flawed.”
Education Minister Serge Rousselle has since rolled his eyes and muttered, “Whatever, we’ll just appeal,” to the ruling.
“Come on, people! A one-room schoolhouse — are you kidding?” scoffed Rousselle when pressed for comment on the progress of the government’s appeal. “Families are fleeing to greener pastures every day. Enrollment is down 26 percent over the past 15 years. Fewer than 100,000 kids attend school in the entire province. Closing some of these dilapidated mold farms was inevitable. Get used to it.”
Rousselle pointed out that the judge did not specifically “say” that they had to keep the schools open. So, due to legal mumbo-jumbo and political posturing, Anglophone School District South has followed through with its plan to relocate the affected students and keep the schools’ doors locked.