School closure defies explanation

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I am writing in response to an article entitled “In the best interest of students” by Ross Mair that appeared in the Nov. 22 edition of The Packet. In the article, Bruce Vey, CEO of the Eastern School District states, “any decisions made by the Eastern School District that will have an effect on the configuration of schools is done to provide students with more educational opportunities.” He also stated that “at no point did dollars and cents enter in the equation when it came to their resolve.”  

I am yet again baffled by ESDNL’s logic. If this is not a money issue, why then would you shut down the second-newest school in the region, which by the way is excelling in every way possible? Why remove students from a model school and place them on busses to attend a school in another community with absolutely no enhancement of programming or educational opportunities?  

The administration and teaching staff at Catalina Elementary have worked very hard over the last few years to create a learning environment that truly embodies what a community school should be.

They have engaged the community to become involved in the learning and social development of the children that attend the school. It is no accident that Catalina Elementary scored exceptionally well on primary and elementary criterion referenced testing assessments last year — well above the provincial benchmarks in virtually every category!

I would argue that the support that our school receives from the local community is second to none. I do not exaggerate when I say there are hundreds of hours of volunteer activities logged at the school each month. Also, the community gives generously to support the school financially. Tens of thousands of dollars have been generously donated for technology such as Smartboards, computers and audio visual equipment over the past couple of years at no cost to Eastern School District or taxpayers. Also, money has been donated for the breakfast program, a fenced playground, a soccer pitch and the list goes on and on.

The residents of the four communities that make up Trinity Bay North are proud of their school and of the hard work that has gone into making it the wonderful school that it currently is.

No matter how big or small our individual part is, we are all proud to be a part of the end product that they are producing — happy, healthy children who are excelling both socially and academically. It is no wonder that Eastern School District has raised the ire of the residents of the four communities. They have not shown us a single possible benefit to the children of Catalina Elementary and for good reason. There is not one.

However, if this proposed school closure goes ahead there will be many negative effects on the students at Catalina Elementary.

Many kids that currently participate in co-curricular activities after school will no longer be able to do so. No sports, physical activities, band, drama or art after school. More seriously, they will not be able to attend after-school tutorials. We are told that they will have to do these things during their 35-minute lunch break.

This is a difficult pill to swallow for parents whose children have been participating in a multitude of after-school activities for the past number of years. Our children will have to spend longer on the bus each day losing valuable time that could be spent exercising, studying, sleeping or just being a child and playing.  

Doesn’t the Eastern School District realize that the hundreds of hours of volunteerism that occur at Catalina Elementary will be severely hampered by their proposed reconfiguration?

Many community members that currently volunteer at the school will simply not have the time or be able to afford to drive to Bonavista to volunteer their time.

This will be a significant loss to the children and to the many volunteers who have so selflessly given up their time over the years to help shape these young children into well adjusted, socially and culturally aware young adults.

I would ask Mr. Vey to please shed some light on the board’s resolve to close this vibrant school. The residents of the four communities that make up Trinity Bay North are more in the dark now than they were on Oct. 4 when they first heard the shocking announcement that ESDNL wanted to close our school.  

 

Tom Cooper writes from Port Union.

Organizations: The Packet

Geographic location: Trinity Bay North, Bonavista, Port Union

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