Pat Murphy is making no promises he can stop schools from closing in rural P.E.I., but he is assuring people from those communities he'll "have a voice" for them if the decision ever reaches the cabinet table.
P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch is reviewing a report that recommends closing five schools: Georgetown Elementary, Belfast Consolidated, St. Jean Elementary in Charlottetown, St. Louis Elementary and Bloomfield Elementary.
Murphy has been meeting with residents of those communities ever since he was sworn in as minister of Rural and Regional Development on Feb. 15.
He said at this point, anything is still possible.
"This committee could come back and say there are no school closures, take the school closures off of the table," he said.
"If they recommend school closures continue, then it goes to cabinet and I find myself sitting at the cabinet table where I'll have a voice for rural Prince Edward Island."
Two of the schools — St. Louis Elementary and Bloomfield Elementary — are in Murphy's district and he's had ongoing discussions with affected residents. Last week he met with residents of Georgetown, and on Thursday he is visiting Belfast. He said he's gathering as much information as possible so he can be prepared in case the decision does go to cabinet.
"I'm trying to get out to as many rural communities as I possibly can," he said. "I intend to meet with anybody who wants to meet with me."
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