‘The fight is in Whit­bourne now’

School com­mu­nity ready to take im­pend­ing clo­sure to court

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY LOUIS POWER TC ME­DIA The Tele­gram

De­spite strong push­back from par­ents and stu­dents at Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary, the fi­nal de­ci­sion has been made to close the school next year.

The board of trus­tees of the New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict (NLESD) voted by pa­per bal­lot last Tues­day, opt­ing to shut­ter the school and move stu­dents to Wood­land Academy in Dildo next fall.

The vote was met with ire; some of the dozens who at­tended the spe­cial meet­ing at NLESD head­quar­ters yelled, slammed doors and told the trus­tees they were cow­ards, or a dis­grace.

Patti Kennedy, chair of the Whit­bourne El­e­men­tary school board, said although the board made its de­ci­sion, their fight isn’t over yet.

“We still have faith, of course, in the jus­tice sys­tem, be­cause I can guar­an­tee you, that’s where we’re go­ing af­ter this. The next step has al­ready be­gun,” she told TC Me­dia fol­low­ing the vote. “We were not pre­pared to take any changes on hav­ing blind faith com­ing here tonight. We are pre­pared, and we have kept our lawyer well in the loop with what was go­ing on, so this is far from over.

Kennedy was among more than two-dozen peo­ple who pre­sented ar­gu­ments for keep­ing the school open the pre­vi­ous night in Whit­bourne. Tues­day’s de­ci­sion was made just 24 hours af­ter those presentations were made, and Kennedy said while it breaks her heart to say it, it’s hard for her to be­lieve their minds weren’t al­ready made up be­fore hear­ing the presentations.

But NLESD chair­man Mil­ton Peach as­serted that the board put a lot of time and ef­fort into the de­ci­sion.

“All of us are peo­ple who take this very se­ri­ously. And we had this over a num­ber of days. It wasn’t just 24 hours with our of­fi­cial, who had to take some of this and sum­ma­rize much of it for us. We feel that due dili­gence was done, and that we had ad­e­quate time to look over this,” he said.

Peach said Whit­bourne is a fine com­mu­nity with a great school sys­tem, and that there was no vendetta against the town or the school com­mu­nity.

“But in our wis­dom, and look­ing at all of the facts that we had in front of us, it was felt that we would take the smaller school pop­u­la­tion and move it to a school with a large pop­u­la­tion.”

He said if the school com­mu­nity wants to take it to court, that’s their de­ci­sion to make.

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