Despite low enrolment and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District's efforts to manage costs, board trustees voted Saturday to keep five rural schools with a total of 89 students open. 

The district said it would save the province $1.7 million annually to remove "excessive infrastructure" by closing the schools, but board members disagreed. 

Goronwy Price NLESD

NLESD board chair Goronwy Price says school reviews will start all over again. (CBC/Jeremy Eaton)

"In this particular case there was a motion presented, recommended, and the motion was defeated," said Goronwy Price, chair of the board.

"So in that case we have to maintain the status quo until such time that we are able to address those concerns and we can make the other alternatives real." 

For trustees who voted against the closures, like Peter Whittle, the reason was student safety.

"I have some serious concerns about the safety of students going on the Trans-Canada Highway in that part of the Burin Peninsula. Being from the Burin Peninsula myself I know how nasty that section can be," he said. 

Recommendations to the board called for the closure of five schools, but the board voted to close only one: H.L. Strong Academy in Little Bay Islands, which has no students and no expected enrolment. 

Appalachia High School in St. George's will be consolidated with Our Lady of Mercy Elementary, which are adjoined. 

The four schools that will now stay open are:

  • LeGallais Memorial in Isle aux Morts
  • Swift Current Academy
  • James Cook Memorial in Cook's Harbour
  • Leading Tickles Primary

The largest school population is LeGallais with 47 students.

Price said the reviews of schools will start all over again, as the province right now has more than 250 schools. 

With files from Jeremy Eaton