REPORTING · 10th February 2011
The recent economic times are affecting many services in Kitimat and the difficulties facing schools have now affected the forth elementary school in the community. Around one hundred and fifty parents and community members attended a meeting last night, Wednesday February 9th to discuss the future of Saint Anthony’s School.
“Last night we held a meeting for the parents of Saint Anthony’s School and the parishioners of Christ The King Parish to explain some of the changes that we are planning for September 2011,” said Lynn McCracken, Superintendent of Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George.
Parents heard presentations from representatives of the school, trustees and council members. Currently, there are 120 students enrolled at Saint Anthony’s out of a total of over 200 places. The numbers began declining between 2006 and 2007 and have gone down each year since then.
“What’s happening is not unlike other schools in Kitimat and the region and the province. There has been declining enrolment,” said McCracken. “If you have less students, then you have less funding. So we looked at restructuring the school at Saint Anthony’s School and how we can best do that facing these financial constraints and still provide an excellent education for the students.”
She said the reduction in numbers were due to the recent economic conditions in Kitimat. The restructured school will have combined classes. They will maintain a Physical Education instructor and a library but there have been three teachers laid off.
Since this article went live, it has been brought to our attention by an individual who attended the meeting last night, the laying off of the teachers was the biggest concern of those assembled. The teachers who lost their jobs were the senior most employees at the school, two were close to retirement while the third was the only male teacher at Saint Anthony's.
Larry Chrobot, who is on the Catholic Independent School Board of Directors said he has been through this in Prince George. “Council had to muster up and bring all the talents of the school and the church and the parishioners and change declining enrolment to increasing enrolment. These are tough times. I am a firm believer that you are in the upswing now because of what I saw last night.”
In addition, a marketing committee has been struck. Parents are getting involved in saving the school because they want their children to see them lead by example.
“I was very encouraged by the amount of positive energy in the room and in conversation with people individually afterwards about how passionate they are about their school and how much they want to see it be on the upswing for enrolment and keep on providing a great education for those kids,” said McCracken
“I was very optimistic about what I saw. There was a lot of great energy in the room. There was a lot of people that were interested and there were a lot of people who want to help,” said Chrobot.
The representatives from the Catholic Independent School Board of Directors commented the Catholic schools in Kitimat and Terrace represented the communities of Kitimat and Terrace very well. The community members who attended the meeting last night left them with the impression that it will not be difficult to attract students back to the school because Kitimat is an exceptional community.
Comment by mary murphy on 12th February 2011
There has always been a waiting list for St Anthonys school, blame it on whatever you want...but the decline is huge. The Diocese needs to do some better examining of the problems and solutions, then have a fair way of dealing with the solutions, I am ashamed!!
The story on St. Anthony's school lay offs is so misleading
Comment by Ana Pires on 11th February 2011
The meeting was not positive. People were generally upset by who was laid off. Questions were asked about whether the principal should step down. There was general consensus at the meeting that a grave error was made about who was laid off. Petitions have been started, people are threatening not to support the Diocese with money because of what has happened. Your article was a total politically correct spin very much slanted and not accurate. This has not ended despite Lynn McCracken the superintendent saying this was a final decision. Parents are also considering pulling their students out of this school because of this decision.
Comment by Ainsley Encinas on 11th February 2011
The meeting took place because of the storm of protest from parents and parishioners who are outraged that the three most senior teachers were laid off. The meeting was not a calm, smooth one as the article implies, but an angry outburst from many parents and parishioners, myself included. People are angry not because layoffs took place, but because of WHO were laid off.
The spin put on the meeting from the Prince George visitors is nothing short of shameful. Unless reversed, the decision to lay off these teachers will only accelerate the declining enrolment at St. Anthony's and will cause great damage to the school and Parish. The failure to tell the laid off teachers the reason why they were no longer required, speaks of a fundamental level of dishonesty that is mind-boggling. This in a Christian community!
The decline in enrolment has been constant for a few years now. What St Anthony’s really needs is a new Principal who can bring fresh ideas and new skills and energy to the job, to restore this wonderful school to where it once stood.