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Frustration grows in Sask. town as possible school closure looms

The North East School Division (NESD) is reviewing the Arborfield school and considering whether to keep it open or close it. ( The North East School Division (NESD) is reviewing the Arborfield school and considering whether to keep it open or close it. (

Parents in Arborfield, Saskatchewan shared their concerns on Wednesday night as a possible school closure loomed.

The North East School Division (NESD) has decided to review the Arborfield School and has put forward plans to bus students to the new school in Carrot River if the Arborfield school closes.

It’s something that Sarah Derksen says weighs heavy on her family.

“It just feels as though Arborfield is remaining in the dark and I feel as though we may not get our answers until the decision has been made, which is frustrating,” she told CTV News.

One of the biggest concerns expressed at the meeting was bussing time for students.

“In these proposed bus routes the majority of the Arborfield and Zenon Park students were having bus times up to and exceeding 75 minutes,” Derksen said.

“This put many five-year-olds and six-year-olds and many young children riding the bus for up to three hours a day.”

Another concern was the loss of activities for the students if they were to attend school in another community.

“Many of the families that are currently in skating and curling and participate within Zenon Park and Arborfield communities would instead of doing these extracurricular activities be forced to be on the bus for an hour and a half after school.”

Derksen said many in the community are feeling frustrated their concerns are not being heard.

“I feel like we've been trying to get questions answered for months and we keep getting the runaround. We keep being told that answers will come,” she said.

“I feel as though the community is just needing answers, needing clarification. We're tired of being held in the dark and unknowing information about our school, the heart of our community.”

NESD director of education, Stacey Lair said the board needed to consider various factors, including what’s best for the students.

“The review for us is about equity and access for educational programming, especially high schools and all of the many pathways in high school. It's about looking at bussing times. It's about looking at social opportunities, about extracurricular opportunities.”


The new school in Carrot River is expected to consolidate the elementary and high schools in that community. However, Derksen said during the planning of the new school, Arborfield students were included in the student population count of the development.

Lair said the Carrot River project came with an expectation from the ministry that they consider other schools for consolidation.

“It would be an expectation that we would plan in advance of the enrollment so we would have the building built in the appropriate size should that consolidation come to fruition. So knowing that we have a building that is 75-years-old in some sections, we did need to plan the enrollment for the eventual reality that that enrollment may go to Carrot River.”

Derksen also said that the board has paused any funding for school projects, and refused to let parents fundraise or do the work themselves.

Lair said when schools are being considered for consolidation, major projects at the school were paused.

“In this case, if the review is complete and we return to status quo, then the board knows that an investment would have to be made in the building because it's 75-years-old,” Lair said.

“So they recognize that their decision would then mean investments from the division pool of preventative maintenance dollars.”

Lair also said there were safety issues with having parents or other volunteers do the work at the Arborfield School.


Derksen said the number of students at Arborfield School was expected to grow as the community attracts more families, which demonstrated a need for the school to stay open.

“In two years alone we would meet that requirement and the projected numbers only increased from there showing upward trend of enrollment.”

She said the local daycare recently received provincial and federal funding to expand the number of spaces available. Something Derksen said speaks to the growing community.

“The provincial and federal government were both in favour of approving to increase our childcare center spaces and provide capital grant funding, clearly believing that our area was experiencing an increased need for childcare,” she said.

“That supported the numbers that were being shown that projected enrollments were positive and that we weren't slowly decreasing.”

Lair said she was impressed at how the community was coming together over the school review.

“I think that they've really worked hard at that and so really appreciate the investment communities make to help with us. It's not easy. It's very emotional whenever communities are working through this kind of thing.”

Derksen said she and other families at the meeting hope the board heard them.

“I hope that the input that was given really helps them with their decisions so that it's not just a decision for the cost per student that it's more it's more than just that.” Top Stories

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