Parents react to plan to bus Swift Current pupils 50 km

The Eastern School District plans to close five rural schools next year, which may force some children to travel hours a day.
Children from Swift Current may have to travel more than 100 km a day if their school closes down next year.

The Eastern School District's plan to close five rural schools is not going over well on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula.

One of the schools on the chopping block is Swift Current Academy, where nearby resident Michael Crocker's 5-year-old son was supposed to start kindergarten next fall.

Now the boy may get bussed more than 50 kilometres to Clarenville instead.

"Total frustration," was how Crocker described his reaction to the news that the local K-12 school may close its doors.

"Total frustration and anger. I feel it's ridiculous."

Parents in Swift Current have been down this road before. The school board tried to shut down the school a few years ago. The parents demonstrated why they did not agree that closing their school was a viable option.

"We took a bus load of people and we took them on the run that it would take to go to Clarenville," said Crocker. "It turned out to be almost two hours travelling, each way."   The school board will hold a public meeting at Swift Current Academy on Oct. 23, when parents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns. 

Eastern School District board chair Milton Peach says he knows the long bus ride is a concern for families in Swift Current.

"It is an issue that we want to address," said Peach. "We want to hear from the parents when we do our next round of consultations."

The final decision on whether the board will close the school is expected in mid December.