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Big Tancook Island Elementary School is one of Canada's last remaining one-room schools.
Big Tancook Island Elementary School is one of Canada's last remaining one-room schools.

One-room school in Nova Scotia remains open after vote on closure Add to ...

One of Canada’s last one-room schools has won a reprieve and will stay open for its remaining two students.

The Nova Scotia board that oversees the school on Big Tancook Island voted Wednesday on whether it should be closed.

Jennifer Naugler, chairwoman of the South Shore Regional School Board, said the board members split the vote four-four, effectively killing the motion to shutter it.

Parents on the picturesque island off Nova Scotia’s south coast had pleaded with the board to keep their little elementary school open, arguing it was a central fixture in the community.

Hillary Dionne, who lives on Big Tancook and was at the meeting, said residents cheered when the vote results were announced.

“Everybody was very emotional and everybody was on the edge of their seats,” she said from her home on the island.

“The little school is so much more than just a school — it’s the heart of our community. This is a small isolated island and having the school open allows our community to grow.”

The school, which was built in 1949, is accessible only by ferry from the vacation town of Chester, and Dionne says closing it could drive residents away and deter others from joining the community of about 100 people.

She argued as well that if there is poor weather or a mechanical issue with the ferry, young children could be stuck on the mainland.

There was only one student registered to attend the primary-to-Grade-5 school in September, but a family that is moving to the island recently registered another child.

Dionne, a 45-year-old mother of two kids who attended the school, was part of a committee struck to examine the future of Big Tancook Elementary School that urged the board to keep the facility open.

She said there are also safety concerns about sending small children on a daily 50-minute ferry ride, which would extend the length of their school day by as much as four hours because of the ferry schedule.

The school’s website said Big Tancook Island is the largest of 365 islands in Mahone Bay. It has a post office and a few other businesses, but has no store, said Dionne.

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