Of the options presented to a school council in Cape St. George for housing children while the fate of their French school is being investigated, the council has chosen to keep their kids in the town.
The move is not far – just across the road in fact, albeit in the basement of the English school in the town, which currently has high school students in the upper level.
It’s not the ideal situation and will take some adjustment, as there will be some shared spaces for gym, cafeteria, kitchen and library.
That’s manageable, but parents are still leery about these temporary measures possibly becoming permanent if it’s found that their Ecole Notre Dame du Cap is costlier to repair than replace.
It’s the reason why Samantha Hinks of the school council said her group wants it in writing that if the school is not repaired, it will be replaced.
She said her predecessors worked too long and too hard in the late 1980s to lobby for a French first language school, which was attained.
The other option was that their children would be bused to Mainland and attend the French school in that community.
The school council also has suspicions this plan, if accepted, could become a permanent arrangement, and they don’t want their young children travelling that distance, especially when some them are already being bused the 25 km from Ship Cove to Cape St. George.
Add another 17 km from Cape St. George to Mainland and it’s a tiring trip for students in the lower grades, especially preschoolers.
There’s also a concern about blending classes from the two communities and some teachers losing their jobs in the process.
Kim Christianson, director of education with Conseil Scolaire Francophone Provincial de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, stated her pleasure with the school council coming up with the recommendation of the relocation in Cape St. George.
She said it is a temporary move, but for how long is not known. She said that if the current school, which is more than 40 years old and has structural problems, can’t be repaired it will be replaced with a new one.
Hinks is concerned about, if it needs replacement, how long that will take.
She sees it as no different than a building being flooded or destroyed in a fire, and that it should become a priority, with no wait time.
While the French and English school districts are working together on a temporary solution to the problem, and it is appreciated that students and staff are not being put in danger in a building with structural problems, there is still some apprehension.
Hinks says the only answer is a permanent standalone French school for their children, whether that is achieved by repairing the current facility to make a safe and secure structure, or by building a new school.
Either way, it must be in Cape St. George and dedicated to French first language.