Now seems to be the best time to think about the future of Annapolis Royal Regional Academy. The school board made its decision last week and it appears AVRSB wants no part of the old building regardless of the wishes of a large number of local residents.
That the decision was made in isolation goes without saying. Future possibilities, potentials, and configurations of students weren’t part of the exercise. It boiled down to dollars and cents, not dollars and sense. From a process perspective ARRA never stood a chance, and many contend that the process is flawed. But based on the process, enshrined in legislation, the school board made the right choice.
So they were right and wrong at the same time.
If reports quoted last Wednesday night are correct, Annapolis West Education Centre will make a fine Grades 6 to 12 school. Previous mould problems have been corrected, dehumidification is keeping mould from colonizing, and problems with air quality in the skilled trades area will soon be fixed. So for the sake of argument, assume that AWEC survives and ARRA doesn’t. That leaves the town, the county, and area residents with a beautiful building that needs roof and window repairs – that probably won’t be done by the school board.
As one town councilor fears, they will be handed a derelict building that would cost too much to repair and too much to demolish. And the school board will get rid of a liability.
Communities can do great things when citizens collectively put their imaginations to work and their shoulders to the grindstone. There is no doubt the citizens of Annapolis Royal can come up with a plan to not only use the grand old academy but to preserve it, revitalize it, and make it even more than what it has traditionally been.
The anger and emotion stoked and fueled by the school board’s decision must not be diminished but channeled away from accusation, sorrow, despair, and disappointment and towards resolve, determination, and action. If not, the building will become a blight where it was once a gem; a decaying eyesore where it was once a thing of architectural beauty.
People with vision and ability must come together now and begin the lifesaving process; the exploration of potential; and the search for funding. Saving the oldest school in the oldest town should be in the interests of everyone – including federal and provincial government funding programs (the Department of Education not-withstanding).
To let the past die puts the future in jeopardy.
To let ARRA end up in the hands of real estate agency listings must never happen.