2016’s school board was appointed in 2013, and even then it was comprised of people elected in 2009. It hasn’t changed since, despite the promise of a new election years ago, by the PC government, and this year, by the Liberals.
In 2013, the PC government merged all English-speaking schools into one board as a cost-cutting measure. Those school board members were chosen from the pool of members elected in the 2009 school board elections; there would have been a school board election later in the year, had the merger not taken place. So the board hasn’t really had new blood since 2009.
“Meanwhile,” says NDP Education Critic Lorraine Michael, “five school communities in this province are facing the threat of closure, and the people who will make that important decision have not been elected and are hence not accountable to the population.”
Michael has been working with parents at Whitbourne Elementary and Sacred Heart School in Conche; MHA Gerry Rogers has been working with Holy Cross Junior High in her district of St. John’s Centre.
“Whitbourne is actually a growing community with increasing enrolment prospects,” said Michael. “In Conche, the plan is to bus the children over Route 434, the dangerous condition of which has been denounced many times in both the House of Assembly and the media.”
At Holy Cross, parents have questions about the catchment areas the board is using, as well as student access to after-school activities and specialized assistance.
“All these school communities heard the current education minister rail against the unelected school board when he was in opposition, and all are concerned that their schools will be shut down by an unaccountable entity.”