Quick-fix school reconfiguration is disastrous

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The forced reconfiguration of schools in Mount Pearl has been met with condemnation from students, parents and teachers in the community, yet the provincial government stubbornly refuses to listen.

The decision by the English School Board has been left to stand as is with possible long-term consequences for years to come.

Despite how unpopular the decision is, it is important to understand the role of government in influencing the board of trustees. Education Minister Clyde Jackman has made it clear he won’t commit any further money to these schools to help alleviate the overcrowding as long as there is one square inch of space left to cram a child into.

That’s why children are eating lunch at their desks, having gym class in cafeterias and missing out on resources like computer labs and libraries.

This was not a situation that suddenly crept up on the government.

The minister has had years of advance notice but failed to plan effectively, even as schools slowly became more and more crowded as the population of Mount Pearl and surrounding communities grew.

This is a damage-control decision, and not a very good one. The board has even admitted this proposed solution won’t work to solve the space problems, making this upheaval even more frustrating and baffling to the students and families affected.

Like most rash decisions meant to be a quick fix, its long-term consequences are likely to be disastrous.

This configuration for schools in Mount Pearl could be terrible for the children involved, as it would disrupt their sense of safety, their day-to-day routines and their long-term education performances.

Yet school is supposed to provide more than book learning and lectures. Ideally, it gives children a sense of belonging, the chance to make lifelong friendships and enjoy extracurricular activities they can get passionate about.

Unfortunately, it is looking less likely the children in these schools will get their chance at those opportunities. What is likely is the continued overcrowding of our schools and poor planning from this shortsighted government.

Paul Lane

MHA for Mount Pearl South

Organizations: English School Board

Geographic location: Mount Pearl South

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Recent comments

  • Corporate Psycho
    April 24, 2014 - 20:36

    Does anyone else not want to hear from Paul Lane?

  • Education is Wicked!
    April 24, 2014 - 13:52

    Full-Day Versus Half-Day Programs Developmentally appropriate full-day kindergarten can offer a more relaxed atmosphere and more opportunities for child-centered, creative activities, as well as more opportunities for developing social skills. Full-day programs provide more time for field trips, activity centers, projects, and free play. Students at-risk for school problems owing to delayed development, disabilities, or limited preschool experiences, and who attend rigorous and nurturing full-day programs, are more likely to have stronger achievement in basic skill areas and generally better preparation for first grade. For most children, full-day kindergarten programs can help increase academic achievement while reducing the probability that children will be retained in the early elementary grades. On the other hand, some argue that half-day kindergarten also can provide high quality educational and social experience. Others feel that children’s shorter attention spans and interests are more suited to a halfday program. What follows summarizes results of current research comparing the effectiveness of full-day versus half-day programs. Advantages of full-day kindergarten: Higher long-term achievement. Higher achievement for disadvantaged and low income children, and for those receiving Title I services. Higher reading scores in early grades. Fewer grade retentions. Higher test scores. More time spent in individualized instruction. More time spent in free play, less time in large groups. Greater progress in social skills for disadvantaged and low income children. More reinforcement of positive social behaviors. Higher self esteem and independence. Greater creativity. Access to nutritional breakfast and lunch. A more relaxed, less hurried school day with more varied experiences. No apparent negative consequences in general. Advantages of half-day kindergarten: More parent involvement. Better match for shorter attention spans of typical five year olds. Equal benefit (the following variables do not appear to be influenced by half-day versus full-day kindergarten): Use of individualized or innovative curriculum. Fatigue or stress level of child. Flexibility and Facilities= Happy NLers

    • To clarify
      April 25, 2014 - 14:51

      The letter is not really in regard to full day kindergarten. It's about reconfiguring schools to allow for growing student population. Several problems with the plan the NLESD has decided on is that it changes programing availability for some schools and also means many students will be shuffled from one school to the next several times before junior high. I do not think Frustrated was bringing up full day kindergarten to discuss the advantages and disadvantages, but to illustrate one way in which the need for classrooms will be even greater in upcoming years.

  • Frustrated
    April 24, 2014 - 09:07

    Thank you, Mr. Lane for keeping this alive. It's such a helpless and frustrating feeling when such a decision affects your children, but no one will listen to your voice on it! I fear it's the primary aged children that are going to get lost in the shuffle of all of this. At the end of the day, shuffling the kids between the two buildings isn't going to solve much....only bring confusion and upheaval for some of our most vunerable school-aged children. I agree the situation at St. Peter's right now is unacceptable, but there are better solutions. Next year, with the full day kindergarten, it will be worse again. Mt. Pearl is boxed in by Southlands (St. John's neighbourhood) and Paradise. This didn't happen overnight, and development in both areas continues. Hoping Mr.Jackman will start listening to the outcry on this and intervene to find a solution that works for all.