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THE EFFECTS OF RE-SETTLEMENT ON EDUCATION
The number of schools in Newfoundland has decreased from 1,245 to 987 in the past 10 years. This decrease is the result of three movements emanating from three different sources but motivated by a common aim - that of affecting improvements in social services through bringing people together.
The three movements are (1) co-operation between the Churches responsible for educational administration in the province; (2) centralization of schools by the school boards and (3) re-settlement. How much of the decrease in schools is caused by each of these factors is difficult to determine. This paper is concerned only with the footer of re-settlement.
It is obvious that if people vacate one settlement and move with their families to another, the absorption of the incoming children into the schools of the receiving town will inevitably create a demand for additional school accommodation. The re-settlement program followed on the heels of a population explosion and consequently at a time when even all existing school facilities were taxed to the limit and so still further aggravated a school situation that had become intolerable for many School Boards.
To give some idea of the extent to which school facilities have been taxed we have selected nine reception centres and compared their school enrolments and classroom facilities in 1958-'59 with those of this year. These towns include some of the smallest as well as some of the largest receiving centres in the province and should constitute a good cross-section.
In 1958-'59 there was a school population of 57 at Arnolds Cove attending a two-room school. This year the enrolment is 242 in seven classrooms. This means that the School Board had to finance and provide an additional five classrooms. Since the resettlement took place over a two year period and since the School
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Board had no financial resources at the local level, its services were, for these two years, very inadequate and a cause of much dissatisfaction among all the parents including those who were already resident in the community.
Port aux Choix had a school population of 137 in 1958-'59 with four classrooms. This year the enrolment is 356 with 14 classrooms. The circumstances attending this resettlement were similar to those in Arnolds Cove.
Stephenville's school population was 1,550 in 1958-'59; today it is 3,322. Its schools had 43 classrooms 10 years ago; the number of classrooms needed to look after the pupils in Stephenville this year has risen to 100.
The attached table gives the statistics for six other receiving or growth centres.
To assume that the burden of finding additional classrooms in smaller centres such as Arnold's Cove or Port aux Choix is lighter than in larger towns such as Corner Brook would be to ignore the more basic elements in the situation. The small towns have a small and meagre base for fund-raising either through taxes or contributions. The immediate need to expand other community institutions and the need for the new settlers to build or erect homes conflict with the needs of expanding schools and makes it necessary to establish priorities. Where voluntary contributions are the only method of raising money for education, people who have no children are very likely to give little to provide school accommodation.
The bigger communities, on the other hand, have to provide more classrooms at a higher price and while the school boards in these communities may and do borrow large sums from the commercial banks, interest and loan repayments are taxing their resources beyond the limit. A survey made last fall indicated that
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at that time, school boards owed a total of $24,000,000 of which $21,000,000 had been borrowed from the commercial banks. It is becoming evident that School Boards in growth centres cannot continue to finance school accommodation through such borrowing.
To assist school boards to cope with this problem the Provincial Government has increased the Grant for school construction from $2,000,000 in 1958-'59 to $4,350,000 this year.
Our Division of Student Aid pays cheques to 55,500 parents who have children in school. With a school population of 157,000 this works out at 2.8 pupils for every family having children in attendance at school. The average number of students per classroom last year in the Province was 26 and the cost of a classroom was around $25,000. This means that someone has to find for classroom space on account of every school child that moves an amount of $1,100 or roughly $3,000 for every family with children of school age.
In spite of the progress made in school centralization in recent years, a great deal remains to be done. More than one quarter of the children in the province attend schools of insufficient size to permit them to function adequately, and many are so small as to be most inadequate. Many of our schools still have less then 4 classrooms. This year 11,000 children are attending such schools in 300 settlements where there are no other schools. Of these 300 settlements, about 100 are in complete isolation. It is very likely that within the next 10 years most, if not all of the people living in these small settlements, will move to growth centres. To find classroom space for these alone will cost an estimated $12,000,000. If we add this to the number of children who will be moving from settlements with school populations between 100 and 200, the figure will likely quadruple.
The Department of Education recognizes the great potential for improvement of our educational services through
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centralization of the population and integration of school services. We are of the opinion that other social services must benefit similarly but we are convinced that unless more money can be found to finance the new schools that are made necessary by the re-settlement program, then that program must slow up considerably, perhaps even stop completely. Twenty years ago, parents might have moved to any community regardless of its educational facilities or lack of them. Today they will not. One of the more significant factors encouraging re-settlement is the desire on the part of parents for better educational facilities for their children. It must be a great disappointment to them to find after having moved that school facilities are no better then they previously had, or, worse still, that there are no facilities at all. The Department of Education feels strongly that people should not be moved until adequate educational facilities have been provided in the receiving town.
School Boards have reached the end of their financial resources and the Provincial Government is providing all Educational capital money it can, sometimes at the expense of other essential services. While we realize that the cost of providing school services may not be included in any agreement reached between the Federal and Provincial Governments in respect of allowable costs for re-settlement. Nevertheless, we are convinced that provision for such services are essential for the success of any re-settlement program in this Province. We suggest, therefore, that before any negotiations are begun with respect of re-settlement, the school situation should be thoroughly explored, We also suggest that as soon as possible discussions be initiated between officials of the Department of Education and the Federal officials of the Department of Regional Economic Expansion. We would welcome an opportunity for such discussions.
JUNE 11, 1969
ENROLEMENT ENROLEMENT CLASSROOMS CLASSROOMS
1958-'59 1968-'69 1958-'59 1968-'69
Arnold's Cove 57 242 2 7
Port Aux Choix 137 356 4 14
Trepassey 153 390 4 15
Fortune 360 563 10 17
Marystown 474 970 14 36
Channel 1,360 1,856 39 54
Stephenville 1,550 3,322 43 100
Gander 1,611 2,555 48 80
Corner Brook 6,870 9,873 193 331