Catalina parents raise voices at public meeting

Angry parents tell school board officials not to follow through with the recommended closure of Catalina Elementary.
Parents tell school board to keep Catalina Elementary open, reports David Zelcer 2:00

Angry parents confronted Newfoundland and Labrador's largest school board on Monday night, demanding that it not follow through with the recommended closure of Catalina Elementary.

Speaker after speaker pleaded with Eastern School District officials at a meeting in Bonavista not to close the school, one of five rural schools identified in a report released earlier this month.

"This is my final say tonight ... because I will not stop fighting for Catalina Elementary," parent Michelle Lodge said to a cheering crowd.

Other parents called the recommendation "extremely undemocratic" and said that the closure of Catalina Elementary would be devastating for the amalgamated town of Trinity North, which has been reeling from setbacks including the recent closure of the Port Union fish plant.

The school board maintains that Catalina Elementary is not sustainable, noting that the school population will drop by more than 30 per cent in the years to come.

But parents say that predictions have been wrong in the past, and that the school has enough students to warrant keeping it open.

Many parents, like Jeff White, believe the board is actually looking for a way to fill schools in nearby Bonavista.

"In my opinion, there must be a hidden agenda, because no person in their right mind would consider closing a school with so much to offer to my child, to our children," he said.

The school board is expected to make a decision on closures in December.