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.
MHA for Mount Pearl South