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.