By Mark Squibb / August 18, 2023
It’s not the Premier, but it’ll have to do.
Mayor Dan Bobbett had recently requested a meeting between Premier Andrew Furey and the town council regarding the provincial government’s decision to bypass Paradise’s number one spot on the school board’s priority list for new schools and instead construct a new high school in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, where the premier and his family happen to live.
Mayor Bobbett noted during this week’s public council meeting that he would be meeting with the newly minted Minister of Education, Krysta Lynn Howell, on Wednesday.
The quest for a new high school in Paradise has been a topic of conversation in council chambers for the better part of a decade, and the provincial government’s recent decision to construct a school in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips and not Paradise has only fanned the fires.
The Liberal government has defended the decision, noting the new school will mean some 300 students will avoid being bused out of Portugal Cove-St. Phillips to St. John’s for school each morning.
Paradise council, meanwhile, has argued that if the decision was based on the number of students being bused out of the community, the some 1,500 students being bused out of Paradise each morning should have been given a higher priority.
In fact, Paradise had been given higher priority — by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, which has placed a high school for Paradise as its number one infrastructure project for a number of years.
Following the meeting with Howell, Bobbett issued a statement.
“Today is a start of on-going dialogue with the provincial government on the matter, and council will continue to advocate that one of the top education infrastructure needs in the province is a high school for the Town of Paradise,” said the mayor. “The census information and statistics are clear; no other community has our growth.”