PEI

'What did we ever do?' Charlottetown parents angered by school report

Parents of children who attend St. Jean Elementary School in Charlottetown say they're angry and heartbroken by the recommendation from P.E.I. Public Schools Branch to close their school.

Charlottetown parents say they will fight against school closures and rezoning

St. Jean's Elementary is one of five schools that could close if the new recommendations go through. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Janna-Lynne Durant's phone has been ringing off the hook since the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch latest meeting.

The president of the St. Jean Elementary School Home and School Federation said Wednesday she's been hearing the same thing from parents that she's been feeling ever since she learned that her school may close as a result of draft recommendations on how to address underutilized or overcrowded schools in the province unveiled at the branch's meeting on Tuesday.

St. Jean Home and School Federation president Janna-Lynne Durant says many parents are shocked at the news. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"First I was angry, why pick our school, why us, what did we ever do?" said Durant. "Then I was heartbroken because my child has to be moved to a new school and then I started wondering how is he going to adjust?" 

Durant made the decision to send her son to St. Jean, having the choice between that school and Spring Park Elementary. 

"[St. Jean] is a great school … it's more like a family to us," she said. "Everyone knows us. My girls are younger, every teacher knows them by name, my children love them...it's going to be quite the adjustment to our family if this goes through." 

Parents across the river in the same boat 

The report recommends a considerable amount of rezoning in the Charlottetown area which has also generated controversy.

The major impact would be on students from the Stratford schools and Donagh Intermediate who would attend Birchwood Intermediate instead of Stonepark to resolve overcrowding there.

That doesn't impress some parents in Stratford like Lorena Dunne, who says she thinks Birchwood is a great school but  not what she wants for her family. 

Birchwood could be taking students from the Stratford area. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"If I wanted my children to be in a school in Charlottetown, you know, in the downtown area, that's where we would have moved," she said. "But we wanted to be in a community, in a subdivision and a school with lots of green space that wasn't right in the city. That's our biggest concern."

Many parents in the Charlottetown schools said they will be using the 60 days of public consultations that are now underway to make the PSB see it their way.

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