Halifax – The decision by the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board (CBVRSB) to close 17 schools over the next five years – 10 of them this September – is devastating news for employees, students and families.

CUPE Local 5050 President Glenn MacPhee says, “This represents almost 30% of the total number of schools in the CBVRSB. To say that this is horrible news for everyone involved would not be overstating things.

“Some of our members have been working in these schools for their entire working lives. Their futures now look very uncertain. As school board workers, we know that schools are the heart and soul of a community. This kind of loss cannot be measured in dollars and cents,” says MacPhee.

CUPE Nova Scotia President Dianne Frittenburg says, “Sadly, it speaks to the state of the economy in rural Nova Scotia and the outmigration of our young people. Cape Breton deserves to have the same level of services as other parts of the province. These school closures are like the canary in the coal mine.

“Education Minister Karen Casey needs to explain how this kind of disruption in students’ lives, with increased class sizes, much longer bus travel times and more, is going to maintain quality education for children in Cape Breton.

“Funding levels in her department must be re-examined if we truly want equal access to education for children across our province,” says Frittenburg.