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Actions on school amount to ‘vendetta against Whitbourne’: Wade Smith


The chairman of the committee that fought the closure of Whitbourne Elementary all the way to Supreme Court is dismayed to see the wheels set in motion so quickly to once again close it.

Wade Smith chairs the Help Whitbourne Elementary Committee.

Newfoundland and Labrador English School District’s board of trustees will hold a special meeting Wednesday in St. John’s where a notice of motion to close the school next June will be tabled. Students from the K-6 school would then attend Woodland Elementary in Dildo starting in September 2017.

“This sounds like nothing (but) a vendetta against Whitbourne,” Wade Smith told The Compass Monday afternoon, shortly after he learned about the special meeting. “I don’t know where the minister of education is to. I think it’s about time for him to straighten this up, wait until we get some elected trustees in there and settle this.”

The issue of elected school board trustees was one of two arguments brought forward in the case made against NLESD in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court last month.

Justice Valerie Marshall did not take any issue with the jurisdiction of unelected trustees, but she did find the failure to provide an important report relevant to the case made against keeping the school open impacted fairness of the process. Her decision effectively quashed the result of last April’s vote to close Whitbourne Elementary.

Smith maintains there is no credible reason to close the school. Supporters have made note of the school’s steady population, which was set to increase this fall. Questions have also been raised about the accessibility of Woodland Elementary, which is a multi-floor building.

“We’ve got everybody in the world supporting us on an inclusive, accessible school, where (Woodland Elementary) is not, and still we have this kind of thing going on,” said Smith, who has a grandson at the school and is a member of the school council. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Assuming the notice of motion is tabled, Smith worries not all parties with a vested interest in the matter will be able to make representation in the public consultation process. He points out many people in Whitbourne and Markland are away on vacation.

“They’ve just got to ruin this again for the kids, as far as I’m concerned.”

SEE RELATED:

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'Verdict due Friday in Whitbourne Elementary court challenge'

'Five NL schools to close in June'

'Whitbourne Elementary will stay open'

An information booklet will be distributed online through the NLESD website, with physical copies available for parents, guardians and community members to pick up at Whitbourne Elementary Wednesday through Friday from 2-6 p.m.

Wednesday's public meeting will be held at the District Conference Centre on Strawberry Marsh Road at 10 a.m.

editor@cbncompass.ca

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