Parents, students fed up with overcrowding in Mount Pearl school
Around 80 parents and students held a demonstration in front of St. Peter's Elementary School in Mount Pearl on Friday morning to show that they're fed up with overcrowding in the building.
Space is at a premium at many schools in the metro area. At St. Peter's, a school meant for 450 children, there are approximately 760 set to attend this fall.
Derek Sullivan, chair of the school council, said the school has started to cut out certain things to make space for classes.
"They are out of classroom space, so just a month ago they dismantled the computer lab to make another classroom — a classroom that is sorely needed," Sullivan said.
"Everyone acknowledges that the classroom is needed for the growing enrolment of 760 kids, but the challenge is there's just no more instructional space in the school, and what instructional space is there is small."
According to Sullivan, taking away some resources — including one of the two vice-principal positions — to cut costs is not the solution.
"How can we be removing those resources from the school at a time when enrolment is going up and outcomes and CRT (criterion reference tests) scores are going down? It makes no sense to remove instructional leadership from the school and parents are very concerned about these issues," he said.
"We all know the solutions are not easy — they are complicated, they involve looking at the full picture — but Eastern School District has known about these problems for a long time."
Room for improvement
Tony Stack, assistant director of educational programs with the Eastern School District, said he realizes that the school is at capacity, but that this upcoming year is the final one in a four-year plan and in the fall, the process of coming up with a new plan will begin.
"That process will ramp up in full gear in the fall and we will be meeting extensively with the school community in the Mount Pearl system — because we look at things as a system — with the view to making adjustments for the fall of the next school year for 2014 and 2015," Stack said.
According to Stack, trying to make changes this school year has the potential to cause more harm than good.
"We feel confident that some of the adjustments that we have made, in terms of the classroom configurations, some things we've done in the last couple of years are fine to accommodate the existing student population," he said.
"If we were to make adjustments right now it would put us in a pretty bad place, because students would potentially be moved out of the building without the advantage of full consultation with the public, and then they might have to be put back in depending on the results of the analysis."
Stack said once the school board begins the process in the fall, the Mount Pearl school community will have the opportunity to consult with the school board on the kinds of changes they feel may be necessary to the system.