Eastern school district confirms school closures

After months of debate, the Eastern School District has decided the fate of some St. John's area schools.

One school will be renovated, the future of another remains undecided

After months of debate, the Eastern School District has decided the fate of some St. John's-area schools.

At a district meeting Wednesday evening, trustees voted to close Holy Cross and Macpherson Elementary schools.

Trustees decided that Holy Heart of Mary High School will be renovated.

Holy Cross Junior High will stay open after a motion to close the school was defeated.

However, the future of I.J. Samson wasn’t decided Wednesday. The vote to close the school was deferred.

"That means that motion is still on the table. So we will go back for another round of consultations with that school community to see where we go from here," said Eastern School District Chair Milton Peach.

Meanwhile, a number of parents were upset with the way Wednesday night's vote was handled.

Eastern School District Chair Milton Peach in St. John's March 9. ((CBC))
Trustees decided at the start of the meeting to vote by paper ballots — instead of a show of hands, meaning no one would know how individual board members voted.

Parent Melinda Conway said she's is not happy that her daughter's school, Macpherson Elementary, is closing and she’s also upset because she doesn't know who voted to close it.

"I think that we should see which way the ballot went. And if they're afraid to show their ballot, then they should not be there," said Conway.

Only one board member, George Joyce, objected to the paper ballot.

Peach defended the secret ballot, saying the members are volunteers who also lead professional lives.

"All of those people, myself included, around the table have businesses to run, things to do, professions to work in and we should not be judged back at our work by the way we voted at a table," Peach said.

Parent Sarah Colborne Penney speaking in St. John's on March 9. ((CBC))
Some parents, such as Sarah Colborne Penney, weren’t satisfied with Peach's response.

"They are elected and they should be accountable to the voters. So, I think they should stand up and be counted," she said.