Roland Butler, Opposition Education Critic and MHA for the District of Port
de Grave, says the consultation process on the Eastern School Districtís
multi-year plan is a sham. Butler says the process is too restricted and not
enough time is being provided for parents to make their case to the school
board and government.
School councils in the Eastern School District have
received an invitation to make a submission on the recently released report
on the multi-year plan for the board. Included in this invitation were
guidelines on participating in the process. These guidelines limit
presentations to ten minutes in duration; no dialogue is permitted with
officials; hearings will be private; and all submissions must be made by
The recently released restructuring report recommends the closure of
schools in Heartís Delight, Whitbourne, Greenís Harbour, the Holyrood area,
Harbour Grace, Coleyís Point, Upper Island Cove, Clarenville, Grand Le
Pierre, English Harbour East, Petite Forte, Burin Bay Arm and Lamaline. It
also recommends the downsizing of schools in Western Bay, Victoria, Little
Heartís Ease, Random Island, Swift Current, Kings Cove, Catalina, Bonavista,
and Lawn. In the St. Johnís area, neighbourhood
schools such as St. Maryís Elementary, Virginia Park Elementary, St. John
Bosco, Macpherson Elementary, I.J. Sampson and Booth Memorial will also be
negatively impacted by this plan.
"The Eastern School Districtís idea of consultations is ludicrous," said
Mr. Butler. "We are discussing the outright closure of over 20 schools and
the downsizing of many more. To address these concerns, the school board is
moving forward with a consultation process that will last less than a month
and will be so severely restrained that it will be a private forum that
limits parents from giving a substantial presentation on their ideas.
"The committee overseeing these hearings state in their letter to parents
that they will consider all information in finalizing a multi-year plan.
This is very scary when the process will be rushed, constrained, and hidden
from the general public. Is the school board truly committed to an open and
consultative process, or do they have their own agenda as to the future
plans of the Eastern School District?
"Education Minister Joan Burke committed to having inclusive and
comprehensive consultations on this report, then stated the report should be
shredded, and is now calling for consultations once again. It appears the
minister is confused as to her intentions with the report. The process
announced by the board is hidden and evasive and I expect government has a
very close role in deciding which schools will close. I call upon Minister
Burke to intervene and ensure that this process becomes more open and
transparent as was previously promised."