Re­plac­ing Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary

New school an­nounced in 2014 provin­cial budget

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The 2014 provin­cial budget held good news for the Town of Bay Roberts.

Dur­ing the March 27 budget pre­sen­ta­tion, Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Char­lene John­son an­nounced fund­ing for the con­struc­tion of a new school on Co­ley’s Point in the com­mu­nity.

The new fa­cil­ity will re­place Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary.

The an­nounce­ment was in­cluded in some $128 mil­lion al­lo­cated for ed­u­ca­tional in­fra­struc­ture in the prov­ince.

The new Co­ley’s Point school was bun­dled in with $9.7 mil­lion set aside for, amongst other things, ex­ten­sions to St. Peter’s Ju­nior High in Mount Pearl, El­iz­a­beth Park El­e­men­tary in Par­adise, as well as the par­tial re­con­struc­tion of Gan­der Academy and other projects.

“We are enor­mously ex­cited,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

Alle­vi­at­ing pres­sure

For the town, the an­nounce­ment is a long time com­ing. Of­fi­cials in the com­mu­nity have not kept it a se­cret their wishes to have the more than 60-year-old fa­cil­ity re­placed with a state-of-the-art school.

“It’s served its goal, but now, to meet the needs of to­day’s stu­dents you need to up­grade, you need to change and to mod­ify,” said Wood.

For the past sev­eral years, en­roll­ment at Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary has hov­ered around 350 stu­dents. This has made for cramped class­rooms and the con­stant need to be cre­ative with space.

There have been times when the staffroom and the lunch­room have been turned into class­rooms to ac­com­mo­date stu­dents.

“It’s long over­due,” stated Wood.

Prin­ci­pal’s words

Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary prin­ci­pal Blair Hur­ley said the stu­dents and staff were “de­lighted” at the news of the new fa­cil­ity. “We are ec­static,” said Hur­ley. It has been a long strug­gle to get a new build­ing con­structed. Mem­bers of the school coun­cil, ad­min­is­tra­tion and the town have spent count­less hours plead­ing for it.

It’s news people like for­mer prin­ci­pal Joy Brown and Port de Grave MHA Glenn Lit­tle­john, amongst oth­ers, have been long­ing to hear.

“It’s an an­nounce­ment that we’ve been wait­ing a long time for,” said Hur­ley. “It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for the kids for sure.

“Our chil­dren and staff will ben­e­fit for years to come.”

A par­ent’s per­spec­tive

The an­nounce­ment came as wel­comed news for many par­ents at the school.

One of those is Dean Franey. He has one daugh­ter cur­rently at­tend­ing Co­ley’s Point and an­other daugh­ter at­tend­ing in the fu­ture.

“Our kids de­serve the best pos­si­ble start we can give them, so I am more than pleased that the govern­ment has de­cided to re­place Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary,” he said.

Franey, who works in St. John’s, was lis­ten­ing in­tently when John­son was mak­ing her budget pre­sen­ta­tion in the House of As­sem­bly. When he heard the an­nounce­ment, he had a hard time con­tain­ing his ex­cite­ment.

“It’s some­thing we’ve been wait­ing for a while now. I have a child in grade 1 and while she may not see the new school I have an­other who will start school in three years so my hope is that she at­tends the new pri­mary school,” he said.

Light at the end of the tun­nel

The an­nounce­ment of the new school was mu­sic to the ears of Lit­tle­john. He has been in­volved with try­ing to se­cure a new fa­cil­ity since his days as a town coun­cil­lor in Bay Roberts. “It was emo­tional yes­ter­day,” said Lit­tle­john. The work for a new Co­ley’s Point school started un­der for­mer mayor Wil­bur Sparkes, with Lit­tle­john tak­ing the lead, and in­ten­si­fied when he was elected to the House two years ago.

“Any time I had a chance to stake a claim to Co­ley’s Point I did, and yes­ter­day that work came to fruition,” he said. “The teach­ers at Co­ley’s Point de­serve a new fa­cil­ity.”

With fund­ing for the con­struc­tion of the new school an­nounced, the next step will be site se­lec­tion and land ac­qui­si­tion.

“Let’s make it be­come a re­al­ity as quickly as pos­si­ble,” said Wood.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River Grade 1 stu­dents Avery Yet­man (left) and Kearsten Jack­man sit on the new Hokki stools be­ing used by the school.

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