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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Presented without further comment

Minister aims for parental pressure to give up school

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NAME OF TOWN WITHHELD - Education Minister Charles Dent is looking to parents to help convince {name of town withheld} Education District No. 1 to give up one of their schools.

Dent will hold two public consultation meetings about the benefits of closing a school. The first will be Thursday, April 19 at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre, and the second on May 3 at Northern United Place.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Charles Dent: "I think both boards have decided it's a battle over turf - winning - rather than looking out for the students."

"The parties involved are not getting all of the information out there," said Dent. "To have an extra school open you don't need to have open, it means you're taking that money out of the classroom."

Dent sent a letter to Yk No. 1 in February asking the board to close one of its schools and lease it to {name of town withheld} Catholic Schools while the Catholics await a retrofit to be completed at St. Joseph school.

A fire last summer at St. Joseph school forced the Catholic school board to share classrooms with Yk No. 1. The public school board is pushing for the same arrangement next year, and is refusing to hand over any schools to the Catholic school board even though enrolment at Yk No. 1 is at only 70 per cent.

YCS board chair Shannon Gullberg said that the conditions of this year's lease were not adequate. With 150 more students needing room next year during the retrofit of St. Joseph's school, she does not want to split up the students between various Yk No. 1 schools.

Other than a letter sent to YCS from Yk No. 1 asking to renew the lease, both school boards admit there has been little communication. Mike Huvenaars, assistant superintendent of business with YCS, said last week that a "political process" involving discussions with Dent are holding up negotiations over the new lease but the minister is taking exception to that claim.

"It's irresponsible of YCS to lay this all at my feet," said Dent. "I think both boards have decided it's a battle over turf - winning - rather than looking out for the students."

Shannon Gullberg, chairperson for YCS, said it is Dent's responsibility for ensuring there is space for their students next year.

"The government is the lead on this retrofit," said Gullberg.

"It is the government's responsibility to make sure there are adequate facilities."

Dent is hoping to convince parents at the public consultation to put pressure on Yk No. 1 to close a school.

"I'm hoping parents will push Yk No. 1 that it's a wise move to close a school," said Dent. He said his main influence on the school board is economic, as he has already threatened to redirect $300,000 in funding to YCS.

Dent seems confident he'll be successful.

"By the time we get to major construction, Yk No. 1 should be able to look at closing a school," said Dent.


Sharon said...

Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care.
- William Safire