‘The fight is in Whitbourne now’
School community ready to take impending closure to court
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.