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Jul 30, 2009

Hope Creek students don’t want to move

Story PictureEarlier in the newscast we reported on the relocation of a school in La Democracia. A News Five team also found that the villagers of Hope Creek are in uproar because the Ministry of Education is also planning to relocate the village school. Duane Moody traveled south where he found a large gathering of vociferous parents and students.

Duane Moody, Reporting
Some two hundred and fifty students are enrolled at the Hope Creek Government School. The government is proposing to close down and relocate the school and build a multi purpose facility at the Methodist Primary School located about a half mile away from the centre of the village; an area dangerously close to traffic. The parents are dissatisfied.

Rene Muschamp, Parent
“They are moving the school from the previous location to take it across the highway that is very dangerous for the kids. You could imagine two hundred and fifty students crossing a highway in the morning at rush hour? We just had an expansion for the village and now they’re gonna move the school to a lower location that is already affected by flood.”

Carmen Young, Parent
“I don’t want my grandchildren coming here and really I do not want my grandchildren to go on that road. We appreciate having a building done in Hope Creek, yes. We want it here at Hope Creek at the government school here. We don’t want it at the Methodist area.”

Duane Moody
“What is it that you guys are going to do if this does not come true; that inevitably it is moved to the Methodist school?”

Carmen Young
“Well, we plan to do a protest against it.”

Ana Guerra, President, Project Management Committee
“We do not think it is a foolish idea. What we think is that the foolish idea is there’s because it is our kids that will be coming to the school, it is our kids that will be on the highway. It will not be none of them on the highway so it is not a foolish idea.”

The parents are also seeking answers on the future of the teachers and on options available.

Corona Villanueva, Senator
“What happens when the new school is constructed? Will the teachers be transferred or will the Methodist mission accept these teachers to teach, to have a post there? It’s a big concern for them will they lose their jobs? The biggest concerns is the transportation problem. We all know that in this area—there are two schools in this area, the Methodist and this government school. If you don’t have your child in either one of these schools, you need to send your child to the village of Pomona five miles away and that requires a transportation. Now, the buses that are running are not available for the children in this area. So, as a parent, you would have to find your own transportation to send your child, which is a disadvantage because how can you have, maybe an infant one child on the road catching a public transportation to and fro?”

But as information spread of the meeting, Minister of Education, Patrick Fabers, turned up. Faber says that the concerns of the villagers are not legitimate.

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“How far away is the Methodist school? A quarter mile. Would you believe that the school rules; the handbook of procedures tells you that the walking distance is three miles; it’s ridiculous but it’s true. And do you believe that there are people who have to walk one, two miles, up to three miles in this country to have to get to a school?”

Group of Residents
“Dat dah way back.”

Patrick Faber
“No, no, no, no, no, today. So I am telling you when we talk about the school not being in the area, if you are telling me that the school is quarter mile away, that is not a valid reason. The argument that you have to cross the highway is not a valid one because that exists all over the country. Let us look at the argument that you have about the flooding. So over there is not high like over there—so I’ve listened to you say—that is the biggest reason why I think we should put a proper concrete building over there if that is the case.”

Information Officer for the ministry, Arlette Gomez, says this is part of an overall move by the ministry to amalgamate multi-grade schools to reduce the number of schools in small communities. The project is being funded by the Social Investment Fund. Duane Moody, reporting for News Five.

Word to News Five late this evening is that Faber has agreed to build the new multipurpose centre on the campus of the Hope Creek Government School.

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