Catalina Elementary is doing things right

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Around 140 students attend elementary school in Trinity Bay North. Earlier this year, the Eastern School District  informed the school council that under its multi-year plan this school was slated to close at the end of the current school year.

No reasons for closing the school were given. Parents, concerned citizens and our town council have been, to date, unable to get any information.

Repeated requests have gone seemingly unheard.

On Oct. 22, a public meeting was held at Discovery School in Bonavista to hear submissions opposing the board’s proposal.

Evidence citing the benefits of rural schools was ably presented at this meeting. The school’s modern facilities were touted — Smartboards and microwave ovens in each room, a modern, newly floored gym, a new roof.

This modern 23-year-old school would be the envy of any community in the province. Perhaps the board didn’t want the media inside this school, hence the extra 17-kilometre trip for interested parties to the school at Bonavista.

On Oct. 25, the province’s education minister, Clyde Jackman, referenced criterion reference test (CRT) scores on a radio talk show.

“The department uses the schools with high results on these tests as models for other schools,” he stated.

Criterion reference tests are administered to elementary students in Grades 3 and 6 to evaluate mathematics and language arts skills.

Students in Grade 3 at Catalina Elementary excelled in all 13 areas of the tests, scoring as much as 40 points higher than provincial and district averages.

Similarly, students in Grade 6 scored higher than the provincial and district averages in all but one of 13 areas, exceeding by as much as 43 points the province and district averages. Catalina Elementary’s scores were significantly higher. This information can be readily confirmed by viewing the district’s website. I ask Mr. Jackman if he intends to see a model and dynamic school close.

On Nov. 7, a meeting was held at Shoal Harbour where the board informed people that their presentations were to no avail and Catalina Elementary would still close.

The board had given absolutely no weight to the submissions. It continues its policy of no contact with the people concerned.

Indeed, it continues to impose contrived inconveniences on the people of Trinity Bay North by scheduling a further consultation at Discovery School on Nov. 26, again avoiding a meeting at Catalina Elementary. Consultation or confrontation with the board? You choose the proper word. As yet there has certainly been no conciliation.

Recently, our premier stated, “every single community cannot have its own school.” Premier Kathy Dunderdale, four communities — Little Catalina, Port Union and Melrose — want to share a school.

After the Nov. 7 meeting, the chairman of Eastern School District, Milton Peach, stated, “our future decisions will focus on students and their needs.”

Mrs. Dunderdale, hold Mr. Peach to his word and ensure that Catalina Elementary stays open for the 140 children who attend there.

Isaac Norman


Organizations: Discovery School, Port Union

Geographic location: Trinity Bay North, Bonavista, Shoal Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Ed Power
    November 19, 2012 - 08:17

    Like my idol, "A Business Man", I too was a real estate mogul and entrepeneur when I played Monopoly in my parents basement....

    • a business man
      November 19, 2012 - 11:15

      I am not by any means a mogul, but many of the things that you learn from monopoly apply to the real word. Such as pricing out your competition (making deals that do not directly benefit you, but that do hurts your competition which does benefit you), destroying the spending potential of your existing consumer base (by offshoiring local jobs) so that you can make more money by selling to another consumer base (the billions in the global market place), and by upgrading your facilities even though the existing renter will not be able to afford the rent, because there are other people willing to pay the rent. These are all things that you learn in monopoly. You don't offshore jobs in monopoly, but you do strive to make the other guy bankrupt if it serves you....well in the real world, displacing workers is a STRATEGY to increase profits. I certainly do not own any hotels, but I have upgraded some rental properties, legally evicted the people who could not afford the higher rent, and charged the higher number a new tenant. I have bought a property at a low cost, and sold it at a high cost. You not have to be a mogul to do that. You just borrow the money, make the profit, pay the interest and line your pockets. anyone can do it. the banks many money, the government taxes that money, and you (or I) get paid. And in this economy, there is no need to make any major upgrades. Just buy the house, let the oil boom and inflation drive up the price, and flip it. You don't have to be a mogul to make money by investing; it is not rocket science. The only advantage I get as a lawyer is that I do all the paper work myself (and write off the expenses), and I have negotiation experience (which in my opinion EVERYONE has to some degree). Again, I am not a mogul, but just another guy trying to accumulate as much for my family as possible.

  • Isaac Norman
    November 18, 2012 - 16:37

    Wow! Businessman I complement you on your success. Here is some information for you. We just found out that three bus contracts to carry children to Bonavista will cost 150,000 dollars. The cost of heating and lighting the school must be far less than this. Also in the process of consultation up to 18 people from the school board will have attended four meetings. They are all paid honorariums, mileage, and for meals and hotel rooms. I am pretty sure many of them have to overnight in a motel. I can only guess at the costs of all this, but a safe estimate is 40,000 dollars. You should certainly ,with your knowledge and education, be able to do a better cost analyses of all this than I can. Please do a cost analyses and get back to me. We would all love to know how much money this seemingly useless process with the board is costing. I must say I am very happy someone as qualified as you is concerned about this matter and I feel your great concern will certainly motivate you to give a definitive answer my request.

  • Isaac Norman
    November 17, 2012 - 12:14

    Businessman: Since you don't live in the area and seemingly you have nothing to lose by telling me what business you are in.

    • a business man
      November 18, 2012 - 11:33

      I own a gas station and a few fast-food franchises in Newfoundland. I also own call centers that I acquired as profitable companies and then offshored the jobs to line my pockets (I kept the management jobs in Canada for my family/friends/colleagues). And most importantly, I am a Canadian born and educated lawyer (AND MBA grad). I work for a full service firm, and one of my specialties is assisting corporation make the transition, legally, to countries in which they can make more money. Essentially, I assist companies, large and small, when they are managing the exit from Canada. I also specialize in real estate law, labour law, and family law. I have in the past done some criminal law, but I really don't like it. There are easier ways to make money. I also own rental properties that are completely paid for, and right now I am making a killing with the increased rents due to the oil boom, and I am looking forward for the next rent increase that will come with NL's economic successes and from inflation. Lastly, I own a government certified private school/tutoring center in Ontario.

  • wilma norman
    November 16, 2012 - 10:00

    I hope for his sake that the "business man" who wants to see some schools closed, is not so shortsighted and uninformed about his business as he is about education. Your comments sir simply don't make any economic sense as others here have so ably pointed out. The amount of money required to keep Catalina Elementary open is peanuts while the cost of closing it both in money and waste of such a facility is way too high to be nothing short of criminal. The money spent on these sham consultations alone is cause for change and protest.!! A perfect example of what is wrong with these huge bureaucratic elephants called school boards!! Think what that money could have been spent on at Catalina Elementary!!!! Talk about diseconomies of scale.....bigger is not better but it is sure as heck more expensive--- and that has been documented in research. So the business man should be more concerned with reducing school board bloating and calling for efficient small schools like Catalina Elementary to stay open. They are not the cause of waste in education. Everybody should be supporting small schools in cities and towns alike. You;ll get alot more bang for your buck!!!

  • Max Edwards
    November 15, 2012 - 16:16

    As a part time resident of Trinity Bay North I am puzzled by the Provincial Government's decision to close a modern school serving four communities. I have not seen one reason, let alone valid reason, why the puppet board recommended closing the school. Interestingly, I just read in our local newspaper here in North Bay, Ontario, that a new French school just opened here to serve a student population of 130. Yet, Newfoundland is closing a modern school with a student population of 140. Makes no sense. The people of Trinity Bay North have apparently presented the Government with strong and valid reasons why it should remain open but have been ignored by the puppet board and Government. Let our school remain open. It's the right thing to do.

  • Dean Lodge
    November 15, 2012 - 09:44

    Such a large school board with both urban and rural areas under its jurisdiction has lost sight of how important a rural school is to the many communities that have one around the province. This ESDNL is one of the largest school boards in Canada, with an operating budget of over $400 million, who are wasting money travelling around trying to convince people that these school closures are about education and what’s best for education in this province. It’s about filling buildings and saving operational money, but they have failed to look at the whole picture of economics. As for : A Business Man, if you were a true business man, you would know with less teachers and workers to pay, we have less payroll tax collected, less people supporting a rural economy, etc; therefore in the long run, more money our government has to put into rural areas to maintain.

  • a business man
    November 15, 2012 - 09:01

    I hear there are many possibilities about which school could end up closing. As a taxpayer, all I can say is that I want some schools to close. No parent will want their local school to close, and I don't blame then. That said, less school means less teachers and workers to pay, and less buildings to operate. So as long as a school gets closed, I am happy. I really could care less about which school actually closes. All I want is to take some teachers and support staff off our payroll.

    • Rhonda McNamara
      November 15, 2012 - 12:33

      "Business Man', FYI most of the teachers will be moved throughout the Eastern District so there won't be any savings there, and I'm guessing you don't have kids in school cause you would appreciate education over 'our' tax dollars. I don't have a child in this school but do realize what an asset Catalina Elementary is to the children and the community.

    • a business man
      November 16, 2012 - 10:41

      thanks for your response Rhonda. Sure, most of the teachers will be move through the district, but as long as some are terminated, then there will be savings. Also, the schools operates using a principal, vice-principal, janitors, and maybe even a guidance counselor. Again, as long as some of these jobs are eliminated, then I am happy. Furthermore, it costs money light and heat the school, so closing the school will eliminate those costs. Lastly, the land the school is an asset, so closing the school and selling the land can generate revenue for everyone in the province. Frankly, I am thinking about the wider benefits to NL, and accept that these benefits may come at the expense of this community. However, I don't live there, so I am okay with this community losing their school. LIke it or not, I am entitled to my opinion and position.