More con­cerns raised about Car­bon­ear Academy

New school met with crit­i­cism from Lib­eral MHA

The Compass - - CLASSIFIED - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melis­sa_­jenk­

When Car­bon­ear Academy first opened its doors Sept. 5, the school board ad­mit­ted there were go­ing to be a few hic­cups, es­pe­cially since it would be con­tin­u­ing con­struc­tion dur­ing some of the school year.

Those few hic­cups ap­peared as sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns last week when a press re­lease by the of­fice of the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion was dis­trib­uted, crit­i­ciz­ing some of the con­struc­tion projects that are on­go­ing.

New school has some prob­lems

Car­bon­ear Academy has been re­ferred to by many as a state-ofthe-art fa­cil­ity with a good ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem, a large gym and new desks, lunch ta­bles and smart boards.

Al­though the phys­i­cal build­ing — which is di­rectly across from the Car­bon­ear Recre­ation Com­plex — looked like it was com­pleted on the first day of classes, it wasn’t.

Due to an er­ror, the num­ber of an­tic­i­pated stu­dents was un­der­es­ti­mated and four new classrooms are cur­rently be­ing built onto the school.

There is also work be­ing com­pleted in other parts of the buid­ing, in­clud­ing the gym­na­sium.

Re­ports of loud noises dis­rupt­ing classrooms, in­abil­ity to ac­cess the gym and in­suf­fi­cient lunch­room space were a few of the con­cerns brought up by Lib­eral MHA Jim Ben­nett in the re­lease.

New­found­land and Labrador English School Board CEO Darrin Pike told The Com­pass he was aware of some con­struc­tion that had been on­go­ing, but noth­ing as sig­nif­i­cant as out­lined in the press re­lease.

“There was some noise dis­rup­tion with a jack­ham­mer out­side the first week of classes,” Pike ex­plained. “But we put an end to that right away.”

He said Marco Con­struc­tion, the com­pany com­plet­ing the work, are just do­ing the fi­nal touchups and in­spec­tions.

To avoid in­ter­rup­tion of class time, the com­pany started send­ing their work­ers in af­ter 4 p.m. to do some heftier work.

This led to another con­cern by Ben­nett, the MHA for St. Barbe — staff not be­ing per­mit­ted in the school af­ter 4 p.m.

Pike said it was for the safety of the school staff and stu­dents in or­der to get the nec­es­sary work done.

Is­sue be­ing ad­dressed

There was a con­cern brought to the school board sev­eral weeks ago re­gard­ing the gym. It was orig­i­nally slated to open Sept. 8, but did not open un­til Sept. 24.

Pike says there was a small oneeighth inch rise in a sec­tion of the gym floor and the ad­min­is­tra­tion was de­cid­ing how to pro­ceed.

“They could have taken up the floor and fixed the is­sue,” he said. “Or wait and do the work next sum­mer.”

The school de­cided to wait since it was not ur­gent.

Due to con­struc­tion, stu­dents have spent gym classes across the street at the rec plex for three weeks.

Speed bumps and a cross­walk were in­stalled across from the main en­trance of the build­ing to the com­plex prior to the start of school.

Ben­nett sug­gested it was a con­cern for chil­dren to cross “a busy high­way to get to sports fa­cil­i­ties.”

Pike said he be­lieves the cross­walk and speed bumps are suf­fi­cient and he has not re­ceived any in­di­ca­tion oth­er­wise.

“No con­cerns have been raised about the use of the fa­cil­i­ties,” Pike said. “But due dili­gence must also be con­sid­ered by par­ents and teach­ers (when cross­ing Val­ley Road).”

With the gym now open, the trips across the street will not be as fre­quent, es­pe­cially in bad weather. But it may pick up again since the school plans on start­ing a swim­ming pro­gram.

Cafe­te­ria woes

Another is­sue raised by Ben­nett was the lack of space in the cafe­te­ria.

This was con­firmed by Pike, who ad­mit­ted the un­der­es­ti­mat­ing of the num­ber of stu­dents led to a smaller lunch­room than needed. He said a school cafe­te­ria should hold ap­prox­i­mately 80 per cent of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion.

The cafe­te­ria was de­signed for two sit­tings so it was ex­pected to hold around 40 per­cent.

“We base the num­ber around some kids go­ing home for lunch,” Pike ex­plained.

Cur­rently, Grades 1 and 2 stu­dents are eat­ing lunch in their classrooms.

“Un­ti­mately, in the long term, that may change,” Pike said.

School board calls con­struc­tion rou­tine

Just like most schools, Pike said, con­struc­tion can be on­go­ing.

“It’s pretty rou­tine in our world,” he added.

Of­fi­cials from the pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion re­sponded to an email from The Com­pass.

“The con­struc­tion project it­self is be­ing man­aged by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works, which ad­vises us that there have been no con­cerns around stu­dent safety ex­pressed to them by the school ad­min­is­tra­tion. They are fol­low­ing up to en­cour­age the ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­port any such con­cerns should they arise.

“Mean­while, it is cer­tainly not un­usual for stu­dents to be at­tend­ing schools while an ex­ten­sion is be­ing built. This has oc­curred at 12 sep­a­rate schools in the past 10 years — and it is cur­rently the case at schools in Grand Falls-Wind­sor, St. John’s, as well as in Car­bon­ear.” Ben­nett dis­agreed. “There are con­cerns ex­pressed that staff and stu­dents should not even be in that build­ing … I have asked the min­is­ter to in­ves­ti­gate th­ese mat­ters and as­sess whether or not this con­struc­tion zone is a safe en­vi­ron­ment for our teach­ers and stu­dents.”

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