School dis­trict to per­form as­sess­ment at Red Bay school

Stu­dents re­turn­ing to school, but par­ents could pull them out again

Northern Pen - - Front Page -

Protests at Basque Memo­rial School have ended, and stu­dents re­turned to class on Mon­day, Sept 24, at least tem­po­rar­ily.

The New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict (NLESD) con­firmed to The North­ern Pen on Fri­day, Sept. 21, that it is plan­ning to send of­fi­cials to Red Bay this week.

The Pro­gram Spe­cial, Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices and the Itin­er­ant Guid­ance Coun­sel­lor for the Labrador re­gion will be in Red Bay on Mon­day to as­sess the pro­gram­ing needs of stu­dents.

Both the school dis­trict and par­ents have con­firmed for The North­ern Pen that the stu­dents will be there.

Fol­low­ing the re­view, the board says it will de­ter­mine next steps and fol­low up with the school com­mu­nity.

The as­sess­ment comes in the wake of a three-week long protest at the Red Bay school.

It started on the first sched­uled day of class on Sept 5.

Par­ents barred the en­trance to the build­ing and kept their chil­dren home to protest the NLESD de­ci­sion to cut the num­ber of teach­ing po­si­tions at the school from 1.5 in 201718 to one for this school year, 2018-19.

The school has an ex­pected at­ten­dance of eight stu­dents this year, across five grades from kinder­garten to Grade 8.

Par­ents ex­pressed con­cerns to The North­ern Pen about the amount of in­struc­tional time the teacher would have for each stu­dent across five grades.

They want the half teach­ing unit re­in­stated.

The protest con­tin­ued ev­ery week day from Sept 5 to Sept 20.

Po­lice were on site, mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion each day.

Par­ent and pro­tes­tor Vicki Han­cock told The North­ern Pen that if noth­ing is in place by Thurs­day, the par­ents will re­move the stu­dents from class again.

NLESD has ex­pressed con­cerns to The North­ern Pen about the amount of in­struc­tional time the chil­dren are miss­ing.

“The Dis­trict is very con­cerned for the stu­dents and the im­por­tant in­struc­tion they are miss­ing each day they are away from school. Their yearly stud­ies should be well un­der­way,” the dis­trict out­lined in a pre­pared state­ment.

“How­ever, it is still early in the year, and there may be op­por­tu­ni­ties to mit­i­gate the im­pact of the lost time if chil­dren re­turn to class now.”

NLESD says it has main­tained an open di­a­logue with the par­ents and has re­sponded to ques­tions and con­cerns raised in writ­ing and through video-con­fer­enc­ing.

How­ever, Lynn Stone, one of the par­ents protest­ing, told The North­ern Pen she felt NLESD never an­swered their ques­tions or ad­dressed their con­cerns.

The school dis­trict con­firmed to The North­ern Pen that a se­nior dis­trict of­fi­cial with the Labrador re­gional of­fice and the prin­ci­pal gained ac­cess to the school and stu­dent files on Wed­nes­day, Sept 19.

This was done in or­der to ob­serve the class­room con­fig­u­ra­tion and as­sess the school’s daily rou­tine.

“The Dis­trict had of­fered to have the of­fi­cial ob­serve the class­room con­fig­u­ra­tion and as­sess the school’s daily rou­tine. But the front door re­mained chained and the stu­dents did not at­tend,” the school dis­trict noted in its state­ment to the North­ern Pen. “The prin­ci­pal and Dis­trict of­fi­cial en­tered through the back door.”

The school dis­trict de­nied claims that the school dis­trict of­fi­cial and prin­ci­pal were es­corted out of the build­ing by RCMP, but con­firmed RCMP was on­site to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion.

“The RCMP did not es­cort them from the build­ing, but an of­fi­cer was on­site to mon­i­tor ac­tiv­ity and en­sure their safety as the level of protest had es­ca­lated to the point where this had be­come a con­cern,” the state­ment read.

For the pro­tes­tors, Stone told The North­ern Pen she felt NLESD made a bad sit­u­a­tion worse as the dis­trict of­fi­cial did not talk with the par­ents. Rea­son for the re­duc­tion NLESD main­tains its ra­tio­nale for re­duc­ing the num­ber of teach­ing units at Basque Memo­rial School.

In the pre­pared state­ment to the North­ern Pen, the dis­trict said, “With re­spect to the al­lo­ca­tion of one teach­ing unit . . . the al­lo­ca­tion is com­pa­ra­ble with schools of sim­i­lar en­rol­ment and grade con­fig­u­ra­tion. There are a num­ber of “sole charge” schools in the prov­ince and the teach­ing prin­ci­pals have ex­per­tise in de­liv­er­ing cur­ricu­lum to all stu­dents within those schools.

“The al­lo­ca­tion of one unit for Septem­ber, 2018, was based on a pro­jec­tion of eight stu­dents in five grades. The al­lo­ca­tion of 1.5 units for last year (Septem­ber 2017) was based on a pro­jec­tion of 12 stu­dents in eight grades. In the 2017 pro­jec­tion, one stu­dent was slated to avail of high school pro­gram­ming. How­ever, only six of the pro­jected 12 stu­dents ar­rived at the school when it opened in Septem­ber, 2017. Due to col­lec­tive agree­ment re­stric­tions, the Dis­trict was un­able to ad­just the al­lo­ca­tion of teach­ing units for the school at that time, de­spite the en­rol­ment of fewer stu­dents.”

NLESD says the cost of adding a half teach­ing unit would de­pend on the se­nior­ity of the in­di­vid­ual ac­cept­ing the po­si­tion. The dis­trict es­ti­mates the salary would likely be be­tween $40,000-$45,000 with ben­e­fits.

How­ever, the dis­trict notes, it can­not con­sider re­quests for ex­tra al­lo­ca­tions for spe­cific school com­mu­ni­ties with­out con­sid­er­ing the im­pact on the en­tire prov­ince.

“When it comes to the al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources, all schools must be treated eq­ui­tably,” the dis­trict noted in its state­ment.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Par­ents started protest­ing at Basque Memo­rial School in Red Bay on Sept 5. They con­tin­ued protest­ing un­til Sept. 20.

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