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Demonstration this Saturday in Shoal Harbour to protest Riverside decision

Frustrated by overcrowding and a lack of government support, parents from Riverside Elementary are planning a demonstration at the school in Shoal Harbour this Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m.

Recent photo of a school assembly at Riverside Elementary. Parents say limited space means entire school can't gather at the same time.

A Facebook group — Riverside Parents Fight Back— is gathering steam online with almost 750 members.

Lana Park, head of school council at Riverside Elementary, said she was upset to hear expansions to the school are being put on hold and the lack of space is a major issue. (Click here to read previous story>>>)

“There was some planning and designing happening from a government/school board perspective. That has all been called off obviously,” Park told The Packet.

 “They have limited space and never a joint activity where everybody in the school gets together. That would affect school spirit and morale, the fact that they can never bring all the children together.”

She said that kind of overcrowding is also a safety issue.

“I would encourage anyone to go down and have a look at a primary or elementary lunchbreak. The kids are jammed are in there — they have no elbow space and they can barely sit,” she said.

Last fall, three portable classrooms were added at a cost of $714,000.

Park said the portables should only be a temporary measure and not looked at as a long-term solution.

The school also doesn’t have adequate gymnasium time, she said.

Another concern stems from the decision to have a combined Grade 2 and Grade 3 classroom for the first time in the school’s history.

The combined classroom will be implemented next fall and Park said it should not happen in a school of this size.

“This is not a small school where you have to look at allocating resources. In the spring of the year when they determine allocation, they have a determined number of Grade 2 and 3s. This came right from government, what the caps are, and they won’t be lenient with it,” she said.

Jeanette Avery has been active in organizing the demonstration. Park said she had consultations with members of the Clarenville town council and Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher’s Association (NLTA).

“The intent of the rally is to have a peaceful demonstration. We will talk about our disappointment concerning the new budget and lack of ability to move forward. They are expecting us to move forward with more portables and no gym space or cafeteria space and putting in another 100 children we don’t have the space for,” Park said.

Park said from a teaching and administration point of view they are doing what they can, but the budget is causing the problems.

“Because there is no money, our children are suffering. You want to talk about investing in our future? Our children are our future and our government is not recognizing that,” she said.

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