Council offers ‘unconditional’ support
Agrees that Coley’s Point Primary needs to be replaced as soon as possible
Members of the Coley’s Point Primary school council received a welcoming audience during a comprehensive presentation to the Bay Roberts town council last week
The seven elected municipal officials say they overwhelmingly and unconditionally support efforts to have the school replaced as soon as possible.
School council members Teri Parsons (chairperson), Lynn Clarke and principal Joy Brown detailed the numerous shortcomings at the half-century old wooden building on Coley’s Point North Road.
“There have been improvements over the years, but this rapidly aging wooden structure lacks space and is showing signs of decay,” said Clarke, who led the presentation.
Enrolment at the kindergarten-Grade 3 school has hovered just below 350 pupils in recent years, leading to overcrowding and a constant need to be creative with space, Clarke explained. That’s despite the fact that Grade 4 was moved to Amalgamated Academy several years ago, and enrolment at Coley’s Point Primary was projected to be around the 300 mark.
But with some 250 news homes built in Bay Roberts in the last five years, and no signs of a slowdown in that growth, enrolment remains strong at the school. The town’s population increased by 7.5 per cent during last year’s census.
“I agree 100 per cent that a new school is needed,” said Coun. Walter Yetman.
Clarke painted an unhealthy picture of the school that included a lack of classroom, staff, administrative and storage space, deficiencies in the gymnasium and stage, cracked walls and a congested parking lot.
Christmas concerts, for example, have to be spread over four nights because of the cramped quarters in the gym and on the stage.
“Every nook and cranny is utilized, including former closets,” she noted.
She added: “This building has outlived its ability to provide the learning environment it should for our expanding population.”
The lobby to replace the school has been ongoing for several years, and the Eastern School District passed a motion in 2007 to make application to the provincial government for funding to build a new structure.
But the years have passed and the application has yet to receive the green light.
The school board reaffirmed its position just recently when it released a 2011-2014 multi-year school plan. Once again, the plan commits to efforts to secure funds to replace Coley’s Point Primary.
“I will be very disappointed if ( funding for a new school) is not in this year’s (provincial) budget,” said Coun. Melvin Walsh.
Members of the school council met recently with Education Minister Clyde Jackman and Port de Grave MHA Glenn Littlejohn. Jackman also toured the school in June.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood is seen here with, from left, Coley’s Point Primary principal Joy Brown, and school council members Lynn Clarke and Teri Parsons.