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Community fights to save St David’s school

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Russell Richardson is one of three committee members organising a meeting to discuss keeping St David’s Primary School open (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A group of parents and community members are to host a public meeting on Monday to discuss a proposal to save St David’s Primary School from closure.

The school is one of eight primary schools on the chopping block as part of the Government’s education reform plans.

A history and legacy committee that has been formed for the school says such a move would “kill the community” of St David’s.

The committee includes Russell Richardson, an eighth-generation St David’s islander and grandson of the Hilton “Hilly” Richardson, the first principal of the school in its present location, opening in 1949, and the last principal of the wood structure that predated it.

Mr Richardson told The Royal Gazette that the committee has submitted a proposal for the school to be the parish school for St David’s to Jasmin Smith, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, but that it has not yet received an acknowledgement of receipt.

He said: “We are meeting as a group at the school to formalise the presentation to the government committee. The Government committed to re-look at the criteria for closing schools. We are submitting that St David’s Primary School should not be closed.”

The Government went back to the drawing board on its primary-school closure criteria to include a history and legacy component, not least in response to protests by a group calling for West End Primary School to stay open.

The West End Warriors argue that the school’s legacy as one of the first to accept Black pupils should be taken into consideration.

Mr Richardson added: “St David’s Primary School was Bermuda’s first fully integrated school.

“St David’s is so unique — we have our own MPs, we have our own postcode and bus schedule.

“We have a unique history. If you take our school you kill our community. The Government says it wants parish primary schools to be the hubs of their community. St David’s Primary School is our community hub, but they are closing it down.

“We understand the reason Government is closing some schools, but we believe the methodology used was not proper. All schools weren’t given fair assessments.

“Closing our school would have a major impact. We have clubs and organisations, and if you put the school in St George’s, they die.”

Mr Richardson said he expects there to be at least 50 people in attendance at Monday’s meeting.

A flyer is circulating titled “Help save our school”.

It adds: “In 2021, Government announced it would be closing St David’s Primary School in June 2024.

“For 130 years, the school has been at the very heart of our community, passing down traditions and values, and a love for learning that has inspired doctors, scientists, teachers, athletes, skilled tradesmen and many valued members of our community.

“If you care about our school and community, come to our PTA meeting on Monday, November 20, and show your support.”

Members of the community were also invited to sign a petition that was posted from Thursday on the St David’s Primary PTA Facebook page.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is due to be held at 6pm at St David’s Primary School.

A spokeswoman for the ministry said that Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, referenced the rescoring work by the government History and Legacy Committee, along with meetings he and the Education Reform Unit held with the East End community during a press conference on November 9.

Mr Rabain said during that press conference that the work of the committee is due to be submitted at the end of this month.

Mr Rabain said: “Once the rescoring process is under way, that, along with the feedback, will be fed back into the plan, and an alternative plan, if such, will then be put together and will go back out for consultation.”

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Published November 18, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated November 18, 2023 at 7:41 am)

Community fights to save St David’s school

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