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St Mary’s R.C school not accepting new students for next academic year

St Mary’s R.C school not accepting new students for next academic year


A chronic problem of overcrowding has forced the St Mary’s R.C school to decide not to accept new students for the next academic year – this as they continue to wait for their new $6 million school at Buccament for which ground was broken in February of 2005.{{more}}

In a letter addressed to the Chief Education Officer, Susan Dougan, Principal of the school Sis Ivy Pacheco described the overcrowding problem as having “a profound effect on our academic, emotional and spiritual well being.”

The school, which was built for 224 pupils now has a population of 605 and Sister Ivy wrote strongly, “In today’s society there is much noise and public out-cry when animals are cooped up in limited spaces and over exposed to inhumane conditions. What are we doing to our students!”

Sister Ivy described her decision as painful in the letter which was copied to the prime minister, the education minister and Bishop Robert Rivas among others.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the school, Sister Ivy further explained that because of the overcrowding the school is housed in three different locations at present. Besides the main compound, the grade one students are housed at the Verbeke centre, and the grade six classes are in the OT building, which has been lent to the school by businessman OT “The little man” Mayers and houses three classrooms. There are currently 85 grade six students and this number will rise to 115 in September, leading to the creation of a fourth class.

While those associated with the school look forward to the construction of the new building, if the Buccament Bay Resort developers have their way, the new school will not be constructed there.

Dave Man of the resort explained to SEARCHLIGHT that the developers are quietly working to find alternative lands to use for a land exchange with the school officials.

He explained that if these alternative lands are not located by the time work on the school is to begin, then they would have no choice but to embrace their new neighbours. He however said that it was their view that a 600-child school in such close proximity to a five star resort is not the ideal situation.

“We have been checking in Arnos Vale and other places for alternative lands,” Man told SEARCHLIGHT.

He said that it is the developers hope that the school will relocate to a more suitable location and not end up being “a stone’s throw away from the resort.”

SEARCHLIGHT however understands that construction talks are some way off because the fund raising drive has not been progressing as the school officials expected. The building fund for the school is reportedly just about $200,000 now – however several significant pledges are outstanding, including $1 million from the Government.

With the overcrowding problem reaching a boiling point, Bishop Robert Rivas may have to put on his walking shoes and lead many more sponsored walks like the one he did in 2003, when he did an 11-mile journey to Argyle in just under six hours to raise funds for the project.

Meanwhile Deputy Chief Education Officer Luis de Shong told SEARCHLIGHT that the Ministry of Education understands the plight of the St Mary’s RC school but stressed that parents should not have problems finding alternative schools for their children.