HALIFAX -- Parents who lost thousands of dollars when Newbridge Academy shut down are now wondering what the recent sale of the building might mean for them.
The sports-focused private school in Dartmouth closed in June due to financial troubles. It has been sitting vacant since then, but the Nova Scotia government announced this week that it is investing $28.5 million to purchase and renovate the school for use as an Acadian high school for the Conseil scolaire acadian provincial.
Dave Hanna, whose son attended Newbridge Academy before it closed, says he was happy to hear the building had been bought -- at first.
“It was just sitting there going to waste,” he says.
Hanna had already paid his son’s tuition deposit for this school year before Newbridge Academy closed its doors in June, putting him out $2,500.
Now, he wonders if the province will do anything to help families like his, who lost thousands of dollars due to the sudden closure of the school.
“Now, the more I think about it, it will be interesting to see if there’s any plan to help out these families,” says Hanna.
However, Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill says parents’ issues with Newbridge Academy are separate from the purchase of the building.
“This is an issue between the parents and the private business and private school, Newbridge, and doesn’t fall under the purview of the Department of Education,” says Churchill.
Hanna isn’t the only person questioning the purchase. The leader of Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative Party, Tim Houston, says he’s happy to see the French school population growing, but he has questions surrounding the cost.
“The fact that this is a relatively new building, that’s some pretty major renovations to a new building,” says Houston.
The province purchased the school from Somerled Properties for $18.5 million and will spend another $10 million on renovations.
Michel Comeau, the superintendent for the Conseil scolaire acadian provincial, says the renovations will include a redesign of instructional spaces, as well as the addition of classrooms, a music room, a library, gymnasium, skilled trades centre, and various student support spaces.
“The first thing we need to do is build student capacity at that school,” says Churchill. “It’s built for 550 students. We’re expecting demand on that facility to be between 700 and 900 students.”
Students will also have access to soccer fields, a football field, and a four-pad arena across the street.
The rebranded and renovated school is expected to reopen in September 2020.