SWIFT CURRENT, NL — Placentia West-Bellevue MHA Mark Browne has sent a letter to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) board of trustees emphasizing constituents’ concerns regarding the potential closing of Swift Current Academy.
The all-grade school is one of the board’s candidates for closure, with students commuting to Tricentia Academy in Arnold’s Cove proposed as an alternative.
In the letter sent Feb. 2, Browne says he recognizes the NLESD’s role in deciding whether a school should remain open and listed the concerns from people in his district whose children would be directly affected by the closure.
Browne says the foremost concern is the possibility of bussing children as young as kindergarteners the long distance from Swift Current to Arnold’s Cove and back.
“Many parents and concerned members of the community have made eloquent arguments about the effect of travel time on a child’s learning capacity as well as the limiting ability for children to stay after school for extra-curricular activities,” Browne’s letter states.
He adds unpredictable weather also makes for dangerous conditions on the highway.
“Local weather conditions can change rapidly, with conditions in Arnold’s Cove being vastly different than those of Swift Current, Black River, Garden Cove or North Harbour.
“These unpredictable road and weather conditions, coupled with the distance involved, have been viewed as legitimate concerns and have been factors in not closing the school in the past.”
Browne concludes his letter by asking the board to consider the distance and weather conditions involved for Swift Current Academy.
“The safety of the students must be paramount in decision making.”
The school board will make its decision at a public meeting that will be live streamed tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 3.