ST. JOHN’S, NL— Nancy Barrington says she is “beyond happy.”
Barrington, who is chair of the Swift Current Academy school council and mother of two Swift Current Academy students, was reacting to the news this afternoon that the school would not shut down.
At a public meeting, webcast live this afternoon, members of the board of directors of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) voted against shutting down four of five schools that had been proposed for closure.
The board voted in favour of closing only one school: H.L. Strong Academy in Little Bay Islands, a school with has no students and no projected future enrolment. The decision was made unanimously, and H.L Strong Academy will officialy close in June. NLESD estimates the closures will save the province $77,000 annually.
Swift Current Academy, Leading Tickles Primary, James Cook Memorial in Cook’s Harbour, and LeGallais Memorial in Isle aux Morts will all remain open.
It was also proposed that Our Lady of Mercy Elementary and Appalachia High consolidate. The motion was carried unanimously. NLESD estimates the consolidation to result in annual savings of $116,000.
As the motions came to the table at today’s board meeting for debate, several board members spoke openly on their concerns about closing some of the schools, stating for the record they would oppose the motion.
The said rezoning and closure would result in longer bus drives, unsafe driving conditions, the mixture of elementary students and high school students and a loss of sense of community amongst students.
In the case of Leading Tickles Primary, board member Hayward Blake noted that a more comprehensive review of the schools in the area would be needed at some point in the future.
“A more comprehensive view is required of that area, because there are actually four schools that we should be looking at, and not just this particular school [Leading Tickles], and I think we need a comprehensive plan, moving into the future, for all the schools in the area.”
For the parents and communities who stated their opposition to the proposed closures during a public consultation process earlier this year, they can breathe a sigh of relief.
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In an interview with The Packet following today’s vote, Barrington said, “Obviously, our children deserve the best education possible and we will always fight for what our children should have, but in the end it is about our children's safety and there is no price tag that can be attached to that.
“It has and always will always be about our children's safety. Period.”
The NLESD full review process can be viewed at https://www.nlesd.ca/schools/schoolreview/index.jsp