The Provincial Government has said no to developing the old Janeway site in the East End of St. John's as the site to replace Virginia Park Elementary. The issue has been stuck in the bowels of the provincial bureaucracy since October 2010!
So, it is back to the drawing board for the community, the Eastern District School Board and students. The long and hard fought battle for a replacement school in the neighborhood for the primary and elementary students currently attending Virginia Park Elementary is far from over.
The School Council has been told that the Department of Education wants to hire three consultants to examine three other sites. We have been asked for input, but as usual the final decision rests with the board. The reports will take approximately six months to complete.
The bottom line, despite money sitting in the bank to construct a new school for several years, we will not see a decision on the new site until late 2012 at the earliest.
This means construction will not begin until 2013 and a new school would open at the earliest 2015! In the meantime, the students at Virginia Park continue to attend a school that the government's own consultants said in 2006 failed to meet the standards of a third world country.
Thank god for duct tape and good cleaners.
The Virginia Park School Council, parents and concerned residents have been anxiously waiting for the the Department of Education's response to the Eastern School District's to use the land at the site of the now demolished Janeway Children's Hospital for the new school. That recommendation was made in early October of 2010. A year and half later, we have been told no.
The reason is that when the hospital was torn down, the land was polluted with asbestos. The cost of remediation is in the millions! The government also feels that the public would not have confidence in the location for a primary school after the clean-up.
After a nine year battle, that began with the Avalon East Board's recommendation to make Virginia Park Elementary a K-3 school, a stay of execution, followed by a commitment to a re-build , and than funding for a new school - to no school at all in our neighborhood, to a the Janeway site, we are back at it again.
The interesting thing is that back in May of 2010, we met to consider four sites that had been proposed to us by Eastern District. We agreed on the current site. However, of the four sites proposed, three were deemed to have environmental issues and were eliminated as options. The proposed site, Snow's Lane, which was outside the current catchment area has not vanished all together.
Instead we have three choices, two of which were rejected in the past. Yet the government is going to spend six months studying them again. The new option, is once again outside of our catchment area, this being an expansion of the 50 year old Vainer Elementary School.
I am looking for a commitment from the board that if the property, where the current school sits, is "environmentally safe" than that is where the new school will be build. In other words, I think there should be a hard and fast commitment that Middleton will not be competing with other sites, as has been the case in the past.
The bottom line is this, I am not personally going to be used by this board, or this government, to implement their agenda to deprive the area of a promised "neighborhood school". If the process is another ranking, decided by the board, than the process does not work.
Anything less than a commitment to Middleton would make this "NEW" process a fraud.