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Reliving our past: Eastern School District CEO confirms Pearce to remain open next fall

The closure of Pearce Junior High School in Burin has been delayed once more.
The closure of Pearce Junior High School in Burin has been delayed once more.

This article was originally published in the June 14, 2011 edition of The Southern Gazette.  

Pearce Junior High School in Burin has earned another reprieve from the chopping block.
Eastern School District CEO Ford Rice told The Southern Gazette Friday he had sent a letter to the School Council to confirm a permanent closure this month would not be happening.
Pearce was originally outlined to shutter in the district’s 2006 Draft Multi-Year School Organization and Capital Works Plan two years ago, but when the time came, a decision was made to delay the closure until at least the end of the current school year.
It was originally thought enrolment in the Marystown-Burin area would continue to decline and consolidating the students into other schools in the region would be more efficient.
However, while enrolment has gone down in other areas of the peninsula as predicted, Mr. Rice acknowledged an anticipated drop in Marystown-Burin hasn’t occurred.
In fact, it has increased.
Mr. Rice said the district has heard a couple anecdotal explanations, one being that some families on the peninsula have relocated to Marystown-Burin, a more central location.
As well, he noted the Alberta employment dynamic has changed from a few years ago when people simply up and moved away from the Burin Peninsula to work out west.
“Now, the trend seems to be that people are working in camps and are electing to keep their families at school or at home in the area.”
Mr. Rice indicated projected student enrolment at Marystown Central High next fall is 460, roughly 60 more than the beginning of the 2008-09 school year.
He said there is currently no timeframe to close Pearce, but noted the Board of Trustees will engage in a new multi-year plan for schools outside the St. John’s area in the coming year.
He said it’s likely the Marystown-Burin area will get another close look then.
“The Board will look at the enrolment data, the facilities and the programming, as we always do when we do multi-year planning, and consider their options at that point in time.”
Meanwhile, he said he’s confident the school will hold up in the time being.
Pearce has undergone several renovations in the past few years, including some window replacement and a new roof above the gymnasium, to go along with general repairs.
Mr. Rice indicated “In light of the situation where the school is to remain open again, and will, I guess, for the foreseeable future anyway, we’ll have to do an assessment on that building.”

 

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