Urban-rural divide highlighted over school closure proposals
5 schools recommended for closure in Public Schools Branch report
A home and school association in eastern P.E.I. has given notice it will fight a recommendation to close four rural schools, while closing just one urban school.
The Public Schools Branch report on underutilized and over-crowded schools in the province, released Tuesday night, recommended the closure of the schools.
- Georgetown Elementary.
- Belfast Consolidated.
- St. Jean Elementary.
- St. Louis Elementary.
- Bloomfield Elementary.
Four of these schools are in rural areas. St. Jean Elementary is in Charlottetown.
"It kind of feels as though the rural areas are being attacked, and we're being closed down so that the urban schools can prosper which really isn't fair to our children's education," said Mallory Peters, president of the Georgetown Elementary Home and School Association.
Georgetown Elementary was slated for closure in 2009, but parents' lobbying saved it. The school is operating at just 28 per cent capacity.
St. Jean Elementary was also recommended for closure in 2009, and spared.
'A little hypocritical'
Peters took her attack on the plan to close rural schools straight to Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
"The Georgetown conference that was held this past summer was known as rural redefined, that was the theme," said Peters. MacLauchlan was a co-chair of the founding Georgetown Conference in 2013.
"If these decisions are made based on the recommendations given tonight, it's a little hypocritical of him to go ahead and close all these rural schools if rural redefined is something they're trying to promote."
Jaclyn Gallant has two children at Bloomfield Elementary, and said she and fellow parents at the school were shocked that their school was recommended for closure.
"We are pretty heartbroken … We were very optimistic and we fought very hard."
"It's supposed to be better learning for all, but for us, in hearing these recommendations it's more of a money factor."
They will regroup and continue to fight for their school, Gallant said
The report released Tuesday is another step in a process that began in late September. There will be another round of meetings for Islanders to comment on the report starting on Feb. 1.
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With files from Natalia Goodwin