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Aug 22, 2018

Tough Times Ahead for Gwen Liz High School

Classes are set to begin next week at Gwen Lizarraga High School, where as we reported on Tuesday night, the new academic year is full of challenges and uncertainty. All indications are that a number of teachers will not be making it back in light of a record low enrollment of students. It means that the school will be raking in less financial support. So what are the chances of survival? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The state of affairs at Gwen Liz is dire.  With only two working days remaining, students will return to school next Monday to formally commence another academic year.  The population, however, will be considerably smaller than previous enrolments.  In fact, the overall register has shrunken to the point where there are roughly seven students per teacher, a ratio that is well below an acceptable average.  Why is this such a precarious situation?  It is quite simple, the more students signed up and attending classes, the more subvention the school is able to receive through the Ministry of Education.  Since Gwen Lizarraga, like Edward P. Yorke High School, is government funded, the onus is on the institution to grow its student body in order to benefit from the resources being made available.  Lesser students attending simply means a smaller subsidy for the school.

In this case, there are approximately three hundred and thirty-five students and forty-four teachers set for school on August twenty-seventh.  The numbers are disparate when compared to E.P. Yorke which has a record six hundred and thirty-seven students to thirty-six teachers.  The way it is, first and second form students are given a three hundred dollar grant from government.  As part of a finance reform carried out five or so years ago, schools receive an allotment out of which salaries are paid, as well as day-to-day operations.  For taking in students who performed poorly in the Primary School Exams, fifty percent or below, additional monies are awarded.  Similarly, for students with low socioeconomic status, the school receives extra funds.  There are also monies earmarked for initiatives to aid students in need of academic assistance.  Together, they form the bulk of the schools’ resources.  Put in perspective, this makes it clear what Gwen Liz stands to lose as a result of anaemic enrolment.

Aside from this dilemma, the school is also mired in political controversy, of a partisan and non-partisan nature.  First there is the issue of Dr. Lorna McKay who has been sidelined as principal over allegations of financial misappropriation.  That matter is presently before the court.  Then there is the faculty and staff, known for impromptu industrial action at the expense of students.  Thirdly, is the composition of the board of directors.  In the weeks following the March seventh municipal elections there was an uproar over the availability of the councillor’s seat on the board.  That didn’t bode well for the institution either.  All these forces at work make it all the more difficult for Gwen Liz to attract new students to its classrooms. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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