School closure recommendations hit West Prince hard

'Disheartened'

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on January 11, 2017

St. Louis H&S president, Tish Shea says her group will fight the recommendation calling for the closure of St. Louis Elementary, and she said other members of a united Westisle Family of Schools Home and Schools groups have indicated they will support the fight to keep both Bloomfield and St. Louis open.

©Eric McCarthy/TC Media

ST. LOUIS – As people back home started lighting up social media with posts Tuesday night condemning the announcement that St. Louis Elementary was being recommended for closure, St. Louis Home and School president Tish Shea fired off a post of her own.

What they’re doing, it’s not helping our kids Tish Shea, St. Louis H&S president

Attending the meeting of the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch she sought to remind her neighbours it’s only a recommendation.

Shea stressed that the release of the School Change Category II Study Report is being followed up immediately by 60 days of consultations.

“We’re going to fight,” Shea said Wednesday after the dust had settled.

“What they’re doing, it’s not helping our kids,” she insisted.
“It seems that both tips of the Island really got shafted in this. As usual, the middle is going to get everything.”

The report calls for the closure of St. Louis and Bloomfield in West Prince, Georgetown and Belfast down east and St. Jeans in Charlottetown.

“It’s a recommendation. It’s not set in stone yet,” Shea said she’s still reminding people.

“All they’re doing is taking 102 kids in St. Louis and putting them on top of the ones in Tignish, and there’s no room there,” she said.

“Who’s benefitting? They’re still short staff. We still don’t have the programs up here that they have in Summerside and Charlottetown.”

Shea said her Home and School will meet, probably as early as Friday to launch a plan of action. She said they hope to involve Bloomfield in the process.

Bloomfield H&S Vice President Jaclyn Gallant’s message from Tuesday’s meeting was directed at parents, urging them to break the news about the recommendations to their children carefully.

“Kids need to be aware of what’s going on,” she said, adding that she attended a school assembly Wednesday morning where students were told of the recommendations and assured that they will be okay.
She had already had a conversation with her children before school but, despite a gentle approach, they still got upset.

She recalled how they had previously bemoaned her time away from them attending H&S meetings. “Now that it’s gotten to this point, they said, ‘Mommy you need to make sure you don’t miss any meetings. You need to have Bloomfield open.’”

“Kids like stability, and they like to know that they re going to be safe and secure and, by us being super worked up about it – which we are – doesn’t help them,” she acknowledged.

The ‘adult’ conversation is different, she concedes. “We’re disheartened. We’re really deflated that way.”

Despite rumours prior to the Cornwall meeting that St. Louis and Bloomfield might be up for closure Gallant said she didn’t believe such recommendations were possible.

For us, it’s just another hit for West Prince and just widening the gap between up here and Charlottetown,” she commented.

Gallant expressed disappointment recommendations from the Bloomfield Home and School, and from the united Westisle Family of Schools Home and Schools, appear to have been ignored during the school review process.

That has altered her impression of the process.

It’s a game,” she said “It’s one that we seem to be losing and, in hindsight, may have been losing from the very beginning. So that’s the frustrating part.”

Shea said she’s already gotten assurances from groups that were part of the united front back in November that they will remain on side during the current round of consultations.

Buses drop off students at Bloomfield Elementary School Wednesday morning. If recommendations presented during Tuesday's monthly meeting of the Public Schools Branch hold, this could be the last year they will be stopping there. Two schools in West Prince, St. Louis and Bloomfield, have been recommended for closure.

©Eric McCarthy/TC Media