New schools in east and west

James
James McLeod
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Politics/Education

One of the major winners in the province's 2010 budget was the Kingergarten to Grade 12 school system.

Millions will be spent building and refurbishing schools across the province, and the government will make good on a promise to cap all class sizes from kindergarten to Grade 9.

"We're announcing two new schools this year, one for the west end of St. John's and one to replace Virginia Park Elementary in the east end," Education Minister Darin King said. "That brings us to a total of 14 new school projects that are ongoing or announced as of today in the province."

One of the major winners in the province's 2010 budget was the Kingergarten to Grade 12 school system.

Millions will be spent building and refurbishing schools across the province, and the government will make good on a promise to cap all class sizes from kindergarten to Grade 9.

"We're announcing two new schools this year, one for the west end of St. John's and one to replace Virginia Park Elementary in the east end," Education Minister Darin King said. "That brings us to a total of 14 new school projects that are ongoing or announced as of today in the province."

On top of the standard $20 million for repairs and maintenance, the government is spending an extra $14.3 million.

That money comes after the Department of Education has been plagued by a series of air quality problems, where mould was found in the walls of schools.

But King defended the government's record, saying the mould has been found because the province was renovating and tearing down walls in schools.

"The most recent example is Roncalli High in Avondale; the reason mould was discovered in that school is because we undertook a major project to go in and retrofit and renovate that school," he said. "We don't see that as a bad thing. We see that as a result of the good investment."

Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association (NLTA) president Lily Cole was largely supportive of the government's funding for schools.

Cole said the committment of an extra 250,000 student assistant hours per year would make a big difference for teachers.

However, she said the union was looking for more when it came to substitute teachers for family leave and professional development.

Currently, time off is only given if there is a subsititute available, and with only 1.2 days per teacher per year budget, that doesn't happen very often.

Cole said 70 per cent of teachers are women, and with children and aging parents, the lack of family leave causes a major strain.

"These days are often denied, and it's very difficult for our teachers and (creates) many challenges," she said.

On balance, however, Cole said the government definitely sees the importance of the education system.

"This government has definitley valued education and valued the students of this province," she said. "Since they have come into power, they have certainly put a lot of money and funds into education."

jmcleod@thetelegram.com




K-12 BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

New money for K-12 infrastructure highlighted by the government:
$500,000 to start planning a new high school in the west end of St. John's
$500,000 to start redeveloping the Exploits Valley High in Grand Falls-Windsor
$2.5 million upgrade and extend Roncalli Elementary in St. John's
Funding - no specific dollar figure - to replace Virginia Park Elementary in St. John's.
$1.2 million for an extension and skilled trades suite at New World Island Academy
$1.5 million to build additional classroom at St. Paul's Intermediate in Gander
$34.3 million for maintenance and repairs throughout the school system
Source: Budget 2010

Organizations: Grade 12 school, Department of Education, Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers NLTA Exploits Valley High New World Island Academy

Geographic location: St. John's, Avondale, Grand Falls-Windsor St. Paul

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