Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary re­place­ment de­ferred

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER COL­UMN nmercer@cb­n­com­

Bud­get 2016 held lit­tle good news for par­ents hop­ing for the re­place­ment of Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary in Bay Roberts.

Brought down Thurs­day by the Lib­eral govern­ment, the bud­get cut into any con­struc­tion plans for ed­u­ca­tion projects, in­clud­ing the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion.

As a re­sult, the re­place­ment of the 60-year-old fa­cil­ity has been de­ferred for three years.

The news isn’t sit­ting well with Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary school coun­cil chair­per­son Lisa Neville. She said the contents of the bud­get are an ex­am­ple of govern­ment putting other in­ter­ests ahead of the prov­ince’s chil­dren.

“We’re dis­heart­ened that not only our chil­dren, but other chil­dren in ru­ral New­found­land are bear­ing the brunt of (the cuts),” said Neville.

She points to money al­lo­cated for the con­tin­ued con­struc­tion of Team Gushue High­way as a prime in­di­ca­tion that the Lib­eral’s “pri­or­i­ties are not with the chil­dren.”

“They’re putting money into in­fras­truc­ture, into a high­way, yet their not putting it into Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary,” said Neville. “It’s re­ally not good enough. We don’t be­lieve that a road, for ex­am­ple, takes pri­or­ity over … the healthy and safety of our chil­dren.”

Money for the de­sign and land ac­qui­si­tion for a new school was in­cluded in the pre­vi­ous two bud­gets pre­sented by the Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment.

Land had been ac­quired along­side Amal­ga­mated Academy in the com­mu­nity and there was even a sign in­stalled on the land ear­marked for the project.

“Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary should be the No.1 pri­or­ity,” said Neville.

Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Dale Kirby is­sued a state­ment af­ter the bud­get an­nounce­ment. In it he wrote that “Co­ley’s Point will re­main in the long-term plans for school in­fras­truc­ture, but there is no fund­ing al­lo­cated in Bud­get 2016 to move this pro- ject for­ward at this time.”

Spac­ing is­sues

The min­is­ter noted money was al­lo­cated for schools “where ca­pac­ity is an is­sue.”

How­ever, Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary is burst­ing at the seams with a school pop­u­la­tion that runs in the vicin­ity of 360 chil­dren. There are con­cerns with air­flow, pos­si­ble mold in the base­ment and the us­age of space in a way it was not orig­i­nally in­tended. Things like us­ing the cafe­te­ria and other rooms as class­rooms to ac­com­mo­date stu­dents.

“I think Mr. Kirby should come out to Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary and see how we are burst­ing at the seams,” she said. “Take a tour through our school so he knows that we are the top school … and we have so many is­sues right now with health and safety.

“They might not see it be­cause they don’t want to see it, but it’s there. The par­ents are not go­ing to set­tle.”

The next step for the school coun­cil will be to con­tinue to lobby govern­ment for the re­place­ment.

“There has to be funds come the fall for this,” said Neville.

MHA will con­tinue to push for re­place­ment

Har­bour Grace- Port de Grave MHA Pam Par­sons said a re­place­ment for the school has been a top pri­or­ity in her district for a num­ber of years.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing to see that (the school) has been de­ferred,” she said. “It hasn’t been can­celled, but it has been de­ferred. My heart went out to res­i­dents. When I saw it, my heart dropped. It’s the first thing I looked for.

“Res­i­dents are ded­i­cated to it. I have shown my sup­port for this and I will con­tinue to stand by this. I re­spect the sit­u­a­tion that we’re in … I re­spect my col­leagues, but at the same time, I have to stand for the peo­ple of Har­bour Grace-Port de Grave with our par­ents and our stu­dents.”

Ear­lier this year, the Bay Roberts town coun­cil tabled a let­ter that will see por­ta­ble class­rooms used at the school to han­dle the over­flow of stu­dents. Those are ex­pected to take up much of the small play­ground space at the far end of the school.

“Co­ley’s Point gets older and for an­other three years, the chil­dren and the staff have to put up with a fa­cil­ity that is to­tally in­ad­e­quate,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood. “I’m ex­tremely up­set by the news. I’m feel­ing a sense of anger and dis­ap­point­ment.

“Isn’t it just ironic that three years will bring us close to the next elec­tion again?”

Co­ley’s Point suf­fered the same fate as planned schools in Par­adise (high school, Grade 5-8 school), Gan­der (re­con­struc­tion K-3) and Shoal Har­bour.

“I think it’s fair to say the chil­dren (of the area) have been let down,” said Wood.


The planned re­place­ment for Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary has been de­ferred for three years fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment made dur­ing Bud­get 2016.


Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary school coun­cil chair­per­son Lisa Neville.

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