Hap­pier times a week later

Whitbourne mo­tor­cade cel­e­brates court’s rul­ing to save school

The Compass - - News - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Ev­ery­one was in a cheerful mood last Thurs­day evening as peo­ple gath­ered in the park­ing lot of Whitbourne El­e­men­tary, await­ing the start of a cel­e­bra­tory mo­tor­cade.

A week ear­lier, sup­port­ers of the cause to pre­vent the clo­sure of the K-6 school re­ceived some wel­come news from the Supreme Court of New­found­land and Labrador Court of Ap­peal. Three jus­tices ruled ap­pointed mem­bers of New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict’s board of trus­tees didn’t have the author­ity last year to close the school.

“Go­ing from the last two or three years of un­cer­tainty to now, it’s start­ing to feel like we have a bit of clo­sure,” said Rudy Mercer, a par­ent and school coun­cil mem­ber who took part in Thurs­day’s mo­tor­cade along with his son. He’s also a mem­ber of the Help Whitbourne El­e­men­tary Com­mit­tee.

There have been mul­ti­ple in­stances over the last few years where stu­dents and par­ents were un­sure whether they’d have a school in Whitbourne the fol­low­ing Septem­ber. It was sched­uled to close last fall and this com­ing fall, but court de­ci­sions re­versed those clo­sures in both cases.

Wade Smith, a mem­ber of both the school coun­cil and the Help Whitbourne El­e­men­tary Com­mit­tee, be­lieves the cur­rent board of trus­tees, made up of mem­bers elected last fall, is less likely to push for an­other school re­view.

“I just hope that with the new trus­tees in place — and I think we have a lit­tle bit bet­ter rap­port with them — that school is just go­ing to be left alone for the time be­ing.”

If an­other school re­view is or­dered, Smith said fur­ther ac­tion to pro­tect its fu­ture would be taken.

“We’ve talked to our lawyer. I think if we were to come up for a re­view again within the next few years, we would con­sider that ha­rass­ment,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

Kristi Soo­ley, a school coun­cil and com­mit­tee mem­ber with two chil­dren at­tend­ing Whitbourne El­e­men­tary, found her ex­pe­ri­ence the last two years fairly stress­ful.

“It’s very stress­ful on the par­ents, the teach­ers, the stu­dents, and hope­fully we won’t have to go through it any­more.”

Like Smith, she’s op­ti­mistic about the school’s fu­ture, hav­ing at­tended re­cent board of trus­tees meet­ings.

“I will say this — I re­ally feel like the new board of trus­tees is fi­nally lis­ten­ing to things that we have to say, and even if the court didn’t over­turn the de­ci­sion, I think that there was a very good chance that they would have helped us.”

Had the court ruled against the ap­peal, stu­dents would have com­menced tak­ing the bus to Wood­land El­e­men­tary in Dildo in the fall. Linda Bar­rett felt that would have been bad news for her fam­ily.

“I have a lit­tle grand­daugh­ter, she’s only four years old, and she would have had to leave here early in the morn­ing, about 7:30 a.m., go all the way down to Dildo, and she’s def­i­nitely go­ing to fall asleep … then on the way back, she’s go­ing to do the same thing, she said. “How is she go­ing to learn like that?

“We’re so happy. We’ve got three grand­chil­dren, so hope­fully it will never close.”

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Dozens of ve­hi­cles took part in a mo­tor­cade Thurs­day evening to cel­e­brate a court of ap­peal de­ci­sion to keep Whitbourne El­e­men­tary open.

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