School district sticks to its guns, mostly

Ross Mair
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Still recommending Catalina Elementary close, concessions for Swift Current Academy

(From left) Bradley Hicks, Nathan Lodge and Kyle Avery are three students of Catalina Elementary who were recently informed the Eastern School Board (background) plan to stick to its original proposal and have them attend school in Bonavista next school year. In the words of Avery, “It’s crazy.”

The Eastern School District (ESD) remains firm in their decision on Catalina Elementary, reiterating with a notice of motion during their annual general meeting on Wednesday night that the school should close by September 2013.

With regard to Swift Current Academy, the ESD issued a notice of motion the school remain a K-9 facility with students in grades 10-12 bussed to Clarenville High, bending slightly on their original proposal the school close entirely by September 2013.

Supporters of both schools will have one last opportunity to present a case for each, with a public meeting being held at Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista on Monday, Nov. 26 and another at Swift Current Academy the following night, Tuesday, Nov. 27. Both meetings will start at 6:30 PM.

"The closure of the school will be the last nail in the coffin of Trinity Bay North," said Daryl Johnson, town manager for the municipality, which includes Catalina Elementary. The town has recently lost two major employers and is currently working on an economic strategy to turn its fortunes around.

"I don't so much feel shock as disappointment," he said, clearly upset with the board's decision.

"There was some 30 submissions (at the last public consultation) and they went by the criteria, everything they had on there was picture perfect for Catalina. The enrollment is stabilizing and growing, the CRTC scores are well above the provincial average. I don't know what else you could do. If they said the reason was because they were learning in an old school and they weren't getting the enrollment numbers or a good education, you'd be able to swallow it."

Christine Lony recently moved from Alberta to the town because she wanted her 14-month-old to attend Catalina Elementary.

"My heart sank, because I honesty felt that they had heard us (at the public consultations).

"We picked up and moved here because of the wonderful school that was already there. We are not the only ones. There are so many reasons, but you're hard-pressed to find a school that is the exception (Catalina Elementary is). I mean, Pete Soucy said it was a model school and he wasn’t wrong," she said.

As soon as the notice of motion on Catalina was handed down, shouts, cries and even tears could be seen in the faces of the near 80 supporters who had driven to Riverside Elementary in Shoal Harbour from the communities of Trinity Bay North.

Supporters of Swift Current were slightly more optimistic, even thought they didn't get the results they were hoping for.

"It was a mixed reaction; we are keeping our K-9, so in that sense we got a small victory, but the fight is not over. Now we have to fight for our ten to 12's, Their lives are just as important," said Dianne Barrett, who has a son in Grade 10 at Swift Current Academy.

She feels that if the ESD follows through with this decision, her son's education and involvement with school will diminish.

"I think that it is going to affect his ability to learn. I think his marks are going to go down."

Asked if she thinks her son, who is on the school's student council, will get involved with such activities in Clarenville, Barrett is doubtful.

"No, because my son is involved with this because he grew up with these kids. He is not going to try to get involved in Clarenville."

Anyone who wishes to make a presentation at the next round of public consultations can do so through the ESD website at www.esdnl.ca.

For more coverage on this story, see next Thursday's edition of The Packet.

Organizations: Swift Current Academy, CRTC

Geographic location: Trinity Bay North, Bonavista, Alberta Clarenville Shoal Harbour Swift Current

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Recent comments

  • concerned
    November 10, 2012 - 15:48

    Why is it whenever the government feels the need to cut costs it always turns to the school and health departments? 2 of the most important things in our lives. I wonder how long our government officials drive to get to work? Todays messed about kids are tomorrows voters and the people who will be in charge of our care when we are elderly.

  • Blair
    November 08, 2012 - 14:31

    For the information of "Opposed", I have a child attending Leary's Brook Junior High which is next door to the Avalon Mall. From the time she gets on the bus until it arrives at school it takes 40 minutes.. So you should come inside the overpass and have a look around. You maybe surprised to find that the rural areas, such as Pouch Cove, Bauline,Portugal Cove, Torbay, Flat Rock etc, have been bussing children on long runs for years. If the thirty minutes you mention is a major factor , I don't think you have much to complain about.

  • im from ouside the overpass
    November 08, 2012 - 11:25

    if i read one more stupid comment about government not caring about those beyond the overpass I feel like i will explode... is that all you to say everytime something doesn't go your way? you who say this bring a bad name to us baymen and baywomen... nobody likes a whiner

  • concerned
    November 08, 2012 - 10:29

    This is the same everywhere.. I remember a while back ( about 8 years ago) they were talking about closing Beaconsfield as a High school in the west end of St. John's, after thousands was spent on re-doing Beaconsfield Jr High to turn it into Hazelwood elementary, and turning Beaconsfield Jr high to a High school ...talks are now that a new high school is needed in the west end... government spending more money to reverse a previous decision.... will be the same in Catalina.... a few years down the road.

  • opposed
    November 08, 2012 - 10:19

    no surprise there...of course they are going ahead with the closure of the school.....that was their plan all along....all of these meetings and protest are a waste of time and money...they aren't going to listen. Why would they care about the future of the children living outside the overpass. They don't have to get their kids on a bus and travel the 30 minutes to Bonavista in the fridged cold temps of winter where that road is known to be slippery and dangerous, or they don't have to worry about the kids being combined into a school that isn't big enough and is actually OLDER than the one they are closing.What happens when mold becomes an issue at Matthew Elementary???? Where are you going to ship the kids then....Clarenville???? And why doen'st Glen Little speak up for his town? Wasn't it the good people of the Bonavista area that elected Glen into his cushy job and the thanks you get is him allowing this to happen....I wouldn't cut ties to Bonavista just yet Glen because you are not going to be re-elected at the next provincial election. You are the one that has to go back and live in Bonavista once your term is over, all I can say is may God forgive you for what you have done because the people of Bonavista/ Catalina sure won't. All members of the school board should haul the head out of their backsides and for once do something that is in the best interest of the people on the other side of the over pass!

  • Fred Russell - Port Union
    November 08, 2012 - 08:42

    Mr. Peach & ESDNL Trustees, On Monday October 22th, 2012 children, parents, concerned citizens and municipal leaders attended a consultation session at Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista. The session was in response to the ESDNL’s recommendation to close Catalina Elementary and an opportunity for those opposing this planned closure to have their say. Submissions and presentations were made and all opposed this planned closure. Last evening, Wednesday November 7th, 2012, just 15 days later, at a regular ESDNL Meeting in Shoal Harbour your decision to go ahead with the motion to close Catalina Elementary was tabled and the vote is still set for December 13th in Spanairds Bay. To date concerned citizens have not received any replies to their emails, myself included, as to why you are recommending this closure. NO REPLIES TO OUR EMAILS ! This is simply unbelievable, even after being directed to reply to our emails by Minister Jackman. During those 15 days between the consultation meeting in Bonavista and last evenings meeting in Shoal Harbour what process did you and your board follow? When did you decide to continue with your planned closure ? Did you and your board meet during those 15 days ? Did you chat via video conference, teleconference ? Were there minutes kept ? Which board Trustees are against this motion and planned closure, because there clearly are some ? Were the submissions and presentations made on October 22th listened to, reviewed, revisited, debated or even discussed. Or was it just a process with no meaning ? We as citizens of this province deserve answers to these questions. Catalina Elementary should not close and all the facts presented support that. Your decision to recommend closure is based on no facts. So again I ask, as I have done in numerous emails in the past, why are you recommending to close Catalina Elementary ? And may I suggest that all Trustees take some time to familiarize themselves with their Code Of Ethic from the ESDNL Website. http://www.esdnl.ca/about/policies/esd/B_BCA.pdf Fred Russell Port Union

  • Fred Russell - Port Union
    November 08, 2012 - 08:41

    Mr. Peach & ESDNL Trustees, On Monday October 22th, 2012 children, parents, concerned citizens and municipal leaders attended a consultation session at Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista. The session was in response to the ESDNL’s recommendation to close Catalina Elementary and an opportunity for those opposing this planned closure to have their say. Submissions and presentations were made and all opposed this planned closure. Last evening, Wednesday November 7th, 2012, just 15 days later, at a regular ESDNL Meeting in Shoal Harbour your decision to go ahead with the motion to close Catalina Elementary was tabled and the vote is still set for December 13th in Spanairds Bay. To date concerned citizens have not received any replies to their emails, myself included, as to why you are recommending this closure. NO REPLIES TO OUR EMAILS ! This is simply unbelievable, even after being directed to reply to our emails by Minister Jackman. During those 15 days between the consultation meeting in Bonavista and last evenings meeting in Shoal Harbour what process did you and your board follow? When did you decide to continue with your planned closure ? Did you and your board meet during those 15 days ? Did you chat via video conference, teleconference ? Were there minutes kept ? Which board Trustees are against this motion and planned closure, because there clearly are some ? Were the submissions and presentations made on October 22th listened to, reviewed, revisited, debated or even discussed. Or was it just a process with no meaning ? We as citizens of this province deserve answers to these questions. Catalina Elementary should not close and all the facts presented support that. Your decision to recommend closure is based on no facts. So again I ask, as I have done in numerous emails in the past, why are you recommending to close Catalina Elementary ? And may I suggest that all Trustees take some time to familiarize themselves with their Code Of Ethic from the ESDNL Website. http://www.esdnl.ca/about/policies/esd/B_BCA.pdf Fred Russell Port Union

  • Kathleen Burt
    November 07, 2012 - 21:46

    I wonder why the Eastern School Board can hold their public consultations with Swift Current Academy in Swift Current Academy, but Catalina Elementary parents have to travel to Bonavista and go to Discovery Collegiate. This seems very disrespectful to our community.