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Parents anxious as deadline looms

Mike Charles

Parents are being thrown “into a quandary” as they scramble to hit the deadline for school registration armed with no detailed knowledge of a report that could spell future school closure and consolidation. This is the view of Bermuda Union of Teachers general secretary Mike Charles, who says that he too is awaiting the release of the “full, unedited” copy of the School Reorganisation (Score) report.

The Ministry of Education informed parents in December that the deadline to register their children would be February 3 — next Wednesday — but yesterday told The Royal Gazette it is now considering an extension of the deadline and would be making an announcement today.

The ministry announced on January 13 that the School Reorganisation Advisory Committee had delivered its final report to Wayne Scott, the Minister of Education, who will decide which schools to close or consolidate following further consultation.

A brief visual presentation on the report was made public earlier this month detailing health and safety concerns across some of the Island’s schools.

Mr Charles told this newspaper: “I don’t know why the report hasn’t been made public yet — they claim they have it, they claim they are going to give it to the public, the minister has had it since January 13, I don’t know why there is a delay.

“Government did say they were going to close schools so you have parents in a quandary at the moment because if you register a child at a school and then they close it then what happens? What are your choices?

“I can imagine the parents’ angst. They need to know — it is not a good situation to be in.”

The full Score report is about 140 pages and Mr Charles believes that parents should be granted at least two weeks from reading it to making a decision on where to send their children.

“I would think at least two weeks would be necessary for parents to be able to consider it.

“Nobody knows what the government is planning so they need to say something. You don’t make a big announcement and then close shop.

“This government campaigned on the mantra that education was in crisis. What they knew, I don’t know. Where did they get the information from? They have all the data and figures and some very bright people got together and put it together.”

Tia Smith, a parent who is considering sending her second child to East End Primary School — a school which could be a contender for closure or consolidation — said she does not have the information she needs in order to make a decision.

Mrs Smith said: “I am worried about it a lot because my son is about to go into P1 and I don’t know whether to put him in for East End Primary or St George’s Prep.

“And if I choose St George’s Prep as his first choice, he doesn’t get in and then East End Primary closes, then what will happen?

“I would hope to have a couple of months after reading the report to decide. It takes a fair amount of time to choose at the best of times and if you have two parents who are working full-time, that makes a big difference. Why tell us the deadline is going to be the beginning of February and then not give us enough information to make a decision?”

Principal at East End Primary School Julie Foggo said the school was “operating as normal” and the primary focus was to keep the children “happy and engaged”.

“We had our open house recently which was well received. There are so many wonderful things going on. We can’t make any decisions until that decision is made.

“I would advise parents to register their child at their first choice no matter what school that is.

“I am a parent as well and I would register my child where I want them to go. East End is open for business.”