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Nicholas Mercer
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New school announced in 2014 provincial budget

The 2014 provincial budget held good news for the Town of Bay Roberts.

 

Funding for a new school on Coley's Point has been announced. The school would replace the current Coley's Point Primary (pictured).

During the March 27 budget presentation, Minister of Finance Charlene Johnson announced funding for the construction of a new school on Coley’s Point in the community.

The new facility will replace Coley’s Point Primary.

The announcement was included in some $128 million allocated for educational infrastructure in the province.

The new Coley’s Point school was bundled in with $9.7 million set aside for, amongst other things, extensions to St. Peter’s Junior High in Mount Pearl, Elizabeth Park Elementary in Paradise, as well as the partial reconstruction of Gander Academy and other projects.

“We are enormously excited,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

 

Alleviating pressure

For the town, the announcement is a long time coming. Officials in the community have not kept it a secret their wishes to have the more than 60-year-old facility replaced with a state-of-the-art school.

“It’s served its goal, but now, to meet the needs of today’s students you need to upgrade, you need to change and to modify,” said Wood.

For the past several years, enrollment at Coley’s Point Primary has hovered around 350 students. This has made for cramped classrooms and the constant need to be creative with space.

There have been times when the staffroom and the lunchroom have been turned into classrooms to accommodate students.

“It’s long overdue,” stated Wood.

 

Principal’s words

Coley’s Point Primary principal Blair Hurley said the students and staff were “delighted” at the news of the new facility.

“We are ecstatic,” said Hurley.

It has been a long struggle to get a new building constructed. Members of the school council, administration and the town have spent countless hours pleading for it.

It's news people like former principal Joy Brown and Port de Grave MHA Glenn Littlejohn, amongst others, have been longing to hear.

“It’s an announcement that we’ve been waiting a long time for,” said Hurley. “It’s a win-win situation for the kids for sure.

“Our children and staff will benefit for years to come.”

 

A parent’s perspective

The announcement came as welcomed news for many parents at the school.

One of those is Dean Franey. He has one daughter currently attending Coley’s Point and another daughter attending in the future.

“Our kids deserve the best possible start we can give them, so I am more than pleased that the government has decided to replace Coley’s Point Primary,” he said.

Franey, who works in St. John’s, was listening intently when Johnson was making her budget presentation in the House of Assembly. When he heard the announcement, he had a hard time containing his excitement.

“It’s something we’ve been waiting for a while now. I have a child in grade 1 and while she may not see the new school I have another who will start school in three years so my hope is that she attends the new primary school,” he said.

 

Light at the end of the tunnel

The announcement of the new school was music to the ears of Littlejohn. He has been involved with trying to secure a new facility since his days as a town councillor in Bay Roberts.

“It was emotional yesterday,” said Littlejohn.

The work for a new Coley’s Point school started under former mayor Wilbur Sparkes, with Littlejohn taking the lead, and intensified when he was elected to the House two years ago.

“Any time I had a chance to stake a claim to Coley’s Point I did, and yesterday that work came to fruition,” he said. “The teachers at Coley’s Point deserve a new facility.”

With funding for the construction of the new school announced, the next step will be site selection and land acquisition.

“Let’s make it become a reality as quickly as possible,” said Wood.

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

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