Sus­pi­cious of data

School coun­cil mem­bers dis­putes pro­jec­tions for Whit­bourne

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­

Two years af­ter Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary avoided be­ing closed dur­ing a mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing of schools in Trin­ity Con­cep­tion, school board pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tions have some lo­cals riled up.

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the Nov. 17 print edi­tion of The Com­pass, the New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict pro­vided 10-year pro­jec­tion num­bers from 2010 to 2020.

Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary was one of a hand­ful of schools with pro­jected de­clines in pop­u­la­tion. The pro­jec­tions were made based on mu­nic­i­pal and his­tor­i­cal trends and avail­able sta­tis­tics prior to 2010. Har­bour Grace, Perl­win El­e­men­tary, Per­salvic School and All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary pre­dic­tions also de­creased.

Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary has 78 stu­dents en­rolled this year. The pro­jec­tion claims there will be 66 by 2020.

School coun­cil mem­ber Tony Young was dis­ap­pointed to see that the pro­jec­tions hadn’t changed, even though the school board opted not to close the school two years ago.

“It was only two years ago we strug­gled to keep (the school) from clos­ing,” Young told The Com­pass, not­ing en­rol­ment was a topic of dis­cus­sion at the last school coun­cil meet­ing.

Since the in­flux of work in Long Har­bour and Bull Arm – less than an hour from Whit­bourne – some peo­ple have been com­mut­ing. And be­ing less than 45 min­utes from St. John’s, lo­gis­ti­cally, some peo­ple see it as the ideal lo­ca­tion to live.

But Young doesn’t be­lieve th­ese num­bers, job sites or any other pos­si­ble rea­son for a pop­u­la­tion in­crease were taken into con­sid­er­a­tion af­ter the pro­jec­tions. He doesn’t be­lieve they are ac­cu­rate.

“I am pas­sion­ate about our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties,” Young ex­plained. “I want them to grow and by hav­ing schools, a med­i­cal clinic and other in­fra­struc­ture sup­ports (in) this di­rec­tion.”

I want them to grow and by hav­ing schools, a med­i­cal clinic and other in­fra­struc­ture sup­ports (in) this di­rec­tion. Tony Young

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