Nfld. & Labrador

Parent Chris LeDrew says Paradise's Holy Family Elementary overcrowded

The father of a young girl living in the Newfoundland community of Paradise said students are being disadvantaged because of poor school planning.

The father of a young girl living in Paradise said students are being disadvantaged because of poor school planning, and the province's English School Board, Department of Education and school trustees are to blame.

Chris LeDrew — who has a daughter in Grade 4 at Holy Family School in Paradise — said the school faces a number of problems, and safety concerns related to overcrowding and the town's growing population.

Sometimes they even do gym in their classrooms.- Chris LeDrew, Paradise

"A few years back they took the cafeteria out and turned it into a class room. Now all the poor kids have to eat at their desk," LeDrew told CBC News, adding that his daughter, though only in Grade 4, has been known to feel uncomfortable about the crowded conditions.

"She said it is absolutely crazy. Sometimes they even do gym in their classrooms, because if there is an activity going on in the gym like some type of play they are practising for, or an assembly, they do gym in their classrooms," he said.

LeDrew said, in recent years, Holy Family School has swelled to a population of about 950 students, noting that portable classrooms have also been brought in, but that they create other problems.

Add portable classes, subtract student areas

"Last year I went to the school district with some emails. I emailed my MHA Mr. [David] Brazil, they came back with the same song and dance of 'oh yeah we are adding portables,'" he said. "With the portable [classrooms] added to the back they take up part of the actual play area for the kids."

"The library is being turned basically into a broom closet. It has been cut down in size, so a library that was pretty big at one point last year now has two classrooms and whatever is left is the library."

In addition, LeDrew said between buses, parents dropping off or picking up their children and parking for teachers and staff, the school's parking lot does not even cut it anymore.

We've got more problems in Paradise than you'd ever want to know.- Chris LeDrew, Paradise

"The whole parking situation up there is ridiculous, the kids actually have to get dropped off and picked up in fire lanes, which I don't even know if it's legal," he said.

LeDrew said speeding in the area, coupled with sidewalk design and layout, create further safety concerns for students getting to and from Holy Family.

"We've got more problems in Paradise than you'd ever want to know," he said.

Those in charge need to plan better

LeDrew said it all comes back to the need for better planning.

"In the big picture, houses are going up like lightning fast. Every house has 1.6 children," he said. "So if the town of Paradise is saying that a new subdivision is going to have 2,000 homes over the next five years, do the math."

"It goes back to the board, it goes back to to the trustees, it goes back to the provincial government to allocate proper funds to put proper schooling out here."

Statistics Canada shows a population change in Paradise that went from 12,584 in 2006 to 17,695 in 2011.

Holy Family School's website said the student population is 770 students with 60 staff members ranging from kindergarten to Grade 6.