Protests at King's Cove and Avalon schools before morning bell

Parents and students from several schools in eastern Newfoundland held demonstrations on Wednesday, to protest planned budget cuts and other impending changes to the province's education system.
Students protest outside St. Mark's school in King's Cove, Bonavista Bay. (Twitter/@keough_michelle)

Parents and students from from St. John's to the Bonavista Peninsula held demonstrations on Wednesday, to protest planned budget cuts and other changes to the province's education system.

The morning protests took place outside St. Mark's School in King's Cove, Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philips and Mary Queen of Peace and Roncalli Elementary in St. John's.

Parents and students outside Roncalli Elementary in St. John's. (CBC)

King's Cove

Parents and students of St. Mark's in King's Cove, Bonavista Bay, were outside the school as students were dropped off for class, blocking buses and preventing staff from entering.

St.Mark's, an all-grade school with 65 students, is set to lose five students in September. It will also lose a teacher, the second in two years.

School council chair Sandra Furlong says the budget has cut resources to the bone.

"We decided we can no longer talk, we have to take some action," she said. "Small schools are getting hammered in this budget. We're asking all small schools to stand up and fight because we're not just doing this for ourselves. All small schools deserve to be fought for," she said.

Parents and students protest budget cuts outside St.Mark's School in King's Cove, Bonavista Bay. (Sandra Furlong)

Furlong said St. Mark's will have classrooms that include as many as four grades in September.

"It could be kindergarten to Grade 4. Now, you must keep in mind that a kindergarten student and a Grade 4 student are totally, on an intellectual basis, different," said Furlong.

She said she can't imagine how the new full-day kindergarten, which is meant to be play-based, can co-exist in a room where older children are learning science and math. She said government's insistence on pushing full-day kindergarten through at this time is part of the problem St. Mark's is facing now.

"Kindergartens need to be by themselves. They need to adjust in school before they're thrown in with anyone else" she said.

Beachy Cove Elementary

In Portugal Cove-St. Philips, parents and students of Beachy Cove Elementary held what they called a Day of Action, following a town meeting the night before.

They're concerned about cuts to their school, and with the decision to hold a draw to determine which Grade 6 students can enrol in the intensive core French program.

More than 300 showed up to the silent protest at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philips. (Gavin Will)

Ava Ilijanic,10, told CBC that she and about half of her classmates were told they can't do intensive French next year. She said they are instead being put in a multi-grade class in the English stream.

To express her frustration to government, Ilijanic wrote a personal letter to Premier Dwight Ball.

"My future came down to a lottery, thanks to these budget cuts," she wrote. "Kids' lives are being affected by these budget cuts, and also the lives of teachers. Maybe we should reconsider how we're spending the money."

Students and parents were also at Roncalli Elementary and Mary Queen of Peace in St. John's on Wednesday to protest the impending budget cuts and changes to class sizes.

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