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Score report: pros and cons

Emotions have been running high since the announcement of the potential closure of four public primary schools and members of the public are being urged to let their voices be heard.

Parents, teachers and other stakeholders have been holding emergency meetings to come up with action plans to save their schools. The Bermuda Government will be holding further meetings next week to solicit ideas and alternatives to the scenarios it has already set out.

Ten scenarios were presented in the government-commissioned school reorganisation (Score) report including the closure of St David's Primary School, Heron Bay Primary School, Prospect Primary School and Gilbert Institute.

Several other scenarios were presented that eliminated closure in favour of consolidation.

Schools considered most flexible in terms of reorganisation were prioritised for closure or consolidation. The selection process also prioritised the potential to reduce school overutilisation.

Three meetings have been scheduled — Sandys Middle School Auditorium on Monday, February 22 from 6pm to 8pm; Clearwater Middle School auditorium on Tuesday, February 23 from 6pm to 8pm; and CedarBridge Academy café on Wednesday, February 23 from 6pm to 8pm.

Stakeholders are being encouraged to review the Score report and the School Reorganisation Consultation Document which are available on the Ministry of Education's website at www.moed.bm. More detail on the scenarios can be found within the Score report, on pages 109 to 126.

Members of the public are reminded that all consultation submissions are due by Friday, March 4.

Each of the scenarios set out in the report are accompanied by pros and cons which are set out as follows:

• Central zone scenario 1 — Resolve overutilisation at West Pembroke Primary.

Pros: Would get some central schools closer to meeting school utilisation guidelines.

Cons: Would only transition 21 out of 53 children — taking some from P1 to P4. West Pembroke will remain overutilised. “This scenario offers little gain for individual school or the zone impact”.

• Central zone scenario 2 — Close Gilbert Institute and transfer staff and students to Prospect Primary.

Pros: Enough room to accommodate all except 1 class of students/staff and programmes from Gilbert Institute. Sensitivity were all teachers and staff go together.

Cons: Training of other teachers in deaf and hard of hearing from a funding perspective. One cohort will require a portable [room] to accommodate them. Displaces 134 students.

• Central zone scenario 3 — Close Prospect and transition staff and student Victor Scott and Paget.

Pros: Cost reduction of operating an additional underutilised building.

Cons: With current LAPS (Learning Assistance Programmes) and Victor Scott Preschool programmes, there is no room at Victor Scott to accommodate the Prospect ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) programme. Currently there is an ASD programme at Paget but there are concerns about adequate space. Transfering students to two buildings. Building consolidation of Paget Primary poses health and safety concerns. Displaces 98 children.

• Eastern zone scenario 1A — Close St David's and transfer students to East End and St George's Preparatory.

Pros: Cost reduction of operating an additional building. Involved schools functioning at appropriate school utilisation levels in most classes. St George's Prep has two bona fide classrooms that can be used immediately.

Cons: Does not address overutilisation at Harrington Sound Primary and Francis Patton Primary. Displaces 75 children to go to two different schools.

• Eastern zone scenario 1B — Resolve overpopulation at Harrington Sound and Francis Patton.

Pros: Schools functioning at appropriate school utilisation level over time. Rooms that are too small for classroom use would no longer be used to house children. One of these rooms could be used as a Learning Resource Room as this is an identified need at the school.

*Francis Patton Primary operating as a 2 stream school as of 2017. Francis Patton has a school utilisation of 120 per cent. The building with its current use can accommodate 1 full stream and 2 streams at 3 levels. To resolve overutilisation at Harrington Sound, Francis Patton would need to accommodate 2 streams at all levels. This would require using rooms which currently house Lyceum Preschool.

Pros: School and zone functioning at an appropriate utilisation level over time.

Cons: No cons.

• Eastern zone scenario 2 — Keep all schools open and resolve overutilisation at Harrington Sound Primary and Francis Patton Primary by transferring students to East End Primary.

Pros: All schools functioning close to their school utilisation levels over time. School utilisation at East End would improve. Minimal reduction in classroom teacher need.

Cons: The success of this scenario relies heavily on parent choice. Even if all possible student transfers to East End take place, Harrington Sound and Francis Patton would still have school utilisation above 100 per cent.

• Western zone scenario 1 — Resolve overutilisation at Port Royal Primary and Purvis Primary and transferring students to West End Primary.

No pros — this scenario was described as “not feasible” for several reasons including overutilisation at some schools involved.

• Western zone scenario 2 — Close Heron Bay Primary and transfer students to West End Primary.

Pros: Sensitivity where all teachers and staff transfer together with 84 students transfer to West End. Cost reduction of operating an additional building.

Cons: Students move a significant distance west. West End classrooms would become overutilised at P4 to P6 level.

• Western zone scenario 3 — Resolve overutilisation at Port Royal Primary and Purvis Primary and transfer students to Paget Primary.

Pros: No western zone schools would remain overutilised. There would remain some flexibility for Paget to take additional students in the future.

Cons: Requires additional staff at Paget. Students have to be moved to another zone. Displaces 10 children. Moving 10 surplus students from Purvis would require the creation of a new cohort at Paget. This would create 1 new teacher position and result in Paget having 3 streams at 2016 P3 level. Would leave Purvis overutilised in 2016 at P4, P5 and P6 level. Would leave Port Royal overutilised in 2016 at P2, P3, P4 and P6 level. Port Royal's overutilisation is minimal. Moving them would not be realistic based on sensitivity considerations.

• Western zone scenario 4 — No schools closing or reorganising:

Pros only: All schools functioning at appropriate utilisation levels over time.

Possible closure: St David's Primary School could be shut and students moved to East End Primary and St George's Preparatory School (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 19, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 19, 2016 at 7:01 am)

Score report: pros and cons

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