Minister Scott On Possible School Consolidations

February 27, 2015

The Ministry of Education faces a 5% budget reduction [approximately $5.9 million] and this coupled with a decline in student enrolment has “left us little choice but to consider restructuring the way public education is delivered,” Minister of Education Wayne Scott said today [Feb 27] in the House of Assembly.

The Minister said, “The Ministry of Education faces a 5% budget reduction equivalent to approximately $5.9 million during the 2015/16 fiscal year. This coupled with continued demographic trends such as a decline in student enrolment has left us little choice but to consider restructuring the way public education is delivered.

“As a result of the economic challenges we face, we will have to discuss with all interested stakeholders the requirement for fewer Government Preschools and Primary Schools in the first instance, and therefore the consolidation or the closure of schools.

“Many parents will be understandably concerned, but the Ministry and Department of Education stands firm that our children will be first priority. We will consult and consider the views of affected PTAs before any definitive decisions are made. We will also consult all key stakeholders.

“Decisions on school closure and consolidation can only be made following consultation with PTAs and stakeholders. Accordingly, a decision has been made to suspend the 2015 school registration process for preschools and primary schools.

“As such, it is necessary to delay decisions on school registration until after a determination has been made on school closures and consolidation, and at least until the end of April 2015.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

Thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to make this very important Ministerial Statement this morning. I do promise to keep it brief.

As all members of this Honourable House are aware, Bermuda continues to face significant economic challenges. The Ministry of Education faces a 5% budget reduction equivalent to approximately $5.9 million during the 2015/16 fiscal year.

This coupled with continued demographic trends such as a decline in student enrolment has left us little choice but to consider restructuring the way public education is delivered.

As a result of the economic challenges we face, we will have to discuss with all interested stakeholders the requirement for fewer Government Preschools and Primary Schools in the first instance, and therefore the consolidation or the closure of schools.

Mr. Speaker,

Many parents will be understandably concerned, but the Ministry and Department of Education stands firm that our Children will be first priority. We will consult and consider the views of affected PTAs before any definitive decisions are made. We will also consult all key stakeholders.

To that end, I have reached out to key stakeholders which include the PTAs of primary schools, primary school principals and the administrators of preschools to provide in general terms some of the factors that have led to the decision to consider school closures.

These factors include by way of example, the following demographic trends:

  • A declining birthrate, declining population growth rates, emigration and overall declining student enrolment; and
  • A decreased budget allotment for the Ministry of Education, the Department of Education and schools.

In due course, I will ensure that PTAs, as well as other parents, principals, teachers, other school staff, Unions and community members are provided with more specific data related to:

  • past, current and projected enrolment figures;
  • budgets for preschools and primary schools; and
  • cost per student for preschools and primary schools.

Qualitative information will also be provided related to safety and health concerns, the state of school facilities, the effective and efficient use of school facilities, and the consideration of optimal preschool and primary school size for effective educational delivery.

Mr. Speaker,

Decisions on school closure and consolidation can only be made following consultation with PTAs and stakeholders. Accordingly, a decision has been made to suspend the 2015 school registration process for preschools and primary schools.

As such, it is necessary to delay decisions on school registration until after a determination has been made on school closures and consolidation, and at least until the end of April 2015.

Thank you Mr. Speaker

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Comments (34)

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  1. Ace girl says:

    Difficult decision and every parent affected will have concerns, however schools of 75 pupils are no longer viable. I am sure the opposition will have a field day with this one. Maybe the furlough days were a good decision. It would also be interesting to find out the cost of each student in public school versus privates school. Just as it would be interesting to find out the cost of educating a student at Bermuda College. Their overheads must be phenomenal when you look at administrative salaries.

    • Mockingjay says:

      #1 Up until today we haven’t heard what and where the Furlough $ was used for, oh I forgot The America’s Cup.
      #2 Are these parents gonna still use the same school uniforms?

    • frank says:

      well we are not closing west end school,victor scott or west pembroke

  2. Tpain says:

    Remember when we gave the cricket team 11M?

    • obasellouts says:

      only an idiot would like this comment.

      stay on subject whi…

      • question everythin says:

        Only a fool will forget something like this. Mindless spending like that is the reason we are in the finacial boat we’re in.

      • Sofie says:

        Wel lon an idiot will make the America s Cup comment.It is a fact $11 million to cricket,a huge loss in Beyonces concert oh the list can go on,but the facts don’t change we are in debt,and there are still doe people who have 90 sick days in Govt go figure..and some to all need to put a smile on their faces that they have a job..

  3. Bill says:

    Firstly, consolidation is obvious, as stated by the data. However unlike other ministries Education is of the highest order. Class size was a priority and needs to remain on the table when discussion/decisions are made concerning consolidation of schools. We have a unique opportunity to revamp our education system.We need to consult ALL stakeholders and make real decisions as they impact us all moving forward. OBA really need to consult and not politic on this one….

  4. They should have never implemented middle schools in the first place, during my years of learning one principle that we were all taught in the good old day’s,Don’t try and fix something that is not broken, and the jokers that introduced the middle schools to Bermuda have created a serious mess and now expect this administration to fix it, our school administrators at the ministry of education, starting with former education ministers have failed our young people miserableness and the continuing failing grades that is there is not acceptable.There are more issues in our education system that is not highlighted in this particular article, but I would just comment that the decisions we are seeing being made and about to be made, should not even been a situation to be dealt with in the first place, if the so called educated people who have masters and doctoral degrees will act like they had or have a lick of common sense then our children may not have been as bad off as they are educational wise. Just as a side not I do know what I think those letter behind their degrees really stand for, but what the heck would I know as a high school drop out.

  5. Just a View says:

    Reading this has the minister really thought about this in its entirety? Larger classes and further integration you will loose even more students and perpetuate an already huge problem and that is educating our young people. Here you have all of these other jurisdictions that we have mirrored ourselves after and yet the very system that worked and educated all of those in the house today you moved away from. So please think long and hard and involve as was stated “all stakeholders” in this process.

    • ridiculous says:

      Just a view get the facts. We would still have very small classes and a surplus of teachers. We need to attend to quality now. The tiny class sizes of 7-10 during past years proved nothing. Time to consolidate and get rid of non performing teachers. Let’s hope this doesn’t become an emotional roller coaster but an opportunity to do what is right!

  6. Bermiegee says:

    With the change it means with the schools they do close, the parents have to buy all new school uniforms. Where does that leave the stores that cater to these schools “custom” uniforms also? Majority of their orders have been put in for 2015-2016. I understand they need to “save money” but other will be losing from parents to stores also.

    • somuchless says:

      IMO that isn’t important. What is important is ensuring that our kids are educated and there is enough monies to make this happens.

  7. Huh says:

    Many of the Public Schools used to be 2 or 3 form entry and are now one form entry so two schools that are close to one another can easily consolidated by changing from one form entry to 2 without major changes to number of students per class.

  8. Paul Revere says:

    Minister Scott, here’s a solution for you.
    Make it mandatory that every child whose parents are paid from the Government coffers, have to attend a public school from Primary P1 through Middle M3.
    Allow parents to chose whatever preschool Government or Private and then ALL Government Workers children have to attend Government Schools.
    If that was to happen, then I am sure we will see an overall improvement in not ONLY the levels of education, but also more successful students.
    Why is that for so long members from both sided of the floor, including past Education Ministers dating back to the days of the UBP, sent their children to Private Schools.
    Guess the Ministers themselves had no faith in the Public School System.
    We’ve tried to copy everyone else for so long.
    Let’s give this a try.

    • Understanding says:

      How about parents parent and instill good morals and values in their kids. How about parents teach their kids the value of an education, than maybe we will see a difference in education.

      • john silvester says:

        Makes perfect sense but Jesus will return before that happens across the board!
        I suppose we can continue to pray….

    • john silvester says:

      We do not live in a socialist society!
      I guess employees of Clarien and Bermuda Motors should be instructed to only drink Heineken or other products sold by Burrows Lightbourne (owned by the Gibbons along with Bermuda Motors).
      I am missing your logic. Quality curriculum and quality instruction are the key to a solid education. Parents have the right to spend their money as they choose.

      • Paul Revere says:

        The reason you and the people who didn’t agree missed my point is because, you don’t see the logic behind my post.
        Imagine if 20yrs ago, all the MP’s and Teachers and other government employees had to send their children to public schools instead of private schools.
        Those same MP’s and Teachers etc would have ensured that the public education system was as good if not better than the private school education.
        What does it say when the Minister of Education and hundreds of Teachers and Civil Servants send their children to private schools to educate their children.
        is it because they have no faith in public education, yet these are the same people responsible for teaching the remainder of our children.
        So as I said, if they had no choice but public education for their children, I can bet you that we would not be in this situation, nor having this discussion.

      • Paul Revere says:

        But what does it say for an employee who shows up to work everyday driving a BMW, yet they are the salesman for a Nissan?
        A smart employer would try and offer their employees the best product in hopes that they would spread the word about their products and business.
        and yes parents should be allowed to spend their money wherever they choose, but imagine if all those government employees spent their monies and energy in the public system?

  9. Bill says:

    Our Ministry has enough doctorates to design an entire system and the department has the brain power to design a new curriculum that meets international standards as well as prepare our children for future demands. When are we going to trust our own and allow them to reach their full potential?!?

    • Typical says:

      BS, This GOVT has the same brain capabilities to run this country both efficiently and effectively as a termite…..get it, destroy and leave before the pest control is called!!!

      • Bill says:

        Govt…? I said ministry and dept of education

  10. Typical says:

    HAVE THEY NOT LEARNED???????? This didn’t/hasn’t worked with the high schools, yet they want to do it again????? I went through the consolidated high school…….IT DOESN’T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Manners says:

    I think it was so nice for the Minister to tell the public before those that WORK in the schools. It was great founding about it via the media.

    • Cardine Alice says:

      The writing was on the wall. Most primary private schools have classes of 20-30. The small state school classes were an anomaly.

  12. ImJustSayin says:

    This is another classic example of a Government that is out of touch with the common population and has once again not investing in the people especially our future,the children. Their poor financial decision’s is gonna destroy this island from the inside out..You have to be careful what and where you cut. These cuts will weaken the economy. Does Bob Richards really know what he is doing?

    • Scotty says:

      Bob Richards knows exactly what he HAS to do. He has no choice. How can anyone ever say that the Bermuda Government has not thrown more than enough money at education over many years? That is not the problem. You have schools of less than 80 students over 5 grades, 16 students on average in a class, and students are still falling through the cracks. The problem is the quality of the teaching/learning experience. Consolidating schools will not have an impact on the student/learning experience if there is quality delivery. Throwing money at a chronic problem is ‘not investing in the future of our children’, quality teaching and parental involvement are the answers. Just ask the private schools.

      • Evidence says:

        For those who stated that schools of “less than 90 students still have children who are falling through the cracks”… where are you getting your data and figures from? This is definitely a decision that should involve all stakeholders as you have other variables in place. I for one work at a small school (which is not under 90 students), and have learned that some students, based on learning styles or behaviors, thrive in a small group. I understand and support that cuts have to be made; however, I truly hope that a collaboration with all stakeholders takes place to ensure that the most conducive environment for learning is sought.

  13. Ms. S says:

    It makes sense to consolidate schools. There are schools with less than 80 students. There are classrooms with less than 10 students.

  14. Be Careful What you Wish For says:

    This idea of consolidation of schools is on the list of alternatives to furlough days (compliments of the Union). So, who is getting what they asked for? Who was prepared to go along with this idea – just so long as they don’t have to have furlough days?

  15. Fed Up Bermudian says:

    And class size does not equate to student achievement. Never did and never will, in our case it meant diluting the talent- so instead of needing only say- fifteen or twenty excellent P1 teachers back when class sizes were like 20-30 kids, now you need double that. You just don’t find that kind of talent growing on trees. Schools were better when classes were larger. And why not try a P1-M2 format, where they are all in school together until they’re about 12 or 13, which helps them transition into young adulthood in a much more nurturing environment. They’d be ready for senior school, so start S1 in the year they would in our current system be going into M3, and then graduate them from high school at the age of 17. Let them opt for an S5 year that would be an IB or AP program, rigorous, that would prep them for college. We have the facilities, let’s put them to proper use. We might even have the staff if we can drift the ‘lifers’ and the ‘slackers’.

    Next, we set the stage for school as refuge. That happens when you have teachers who draw the line like a good parent. I know many who are great teachers, many who are good, but also some that are not. Swearing in public. Chopsin on the phone. Dressing inappropriately. Swearing in class, even. We need teachers who will model what they want from their students. Make the students accountable by being accountable themselves. Returning homework regularly, so that there’s timely feedback. Using proper English, and that doesn’t mean not using dialect, it means using words properly. Manners, and beyond the ‘I said Good Morning!’. Say please and thank you, even to your students. Speak to them how you would have them speak to you. Keep it formal- they shouldn’t have your cell phone number. They should not have access to your social media pages. All children should be made to feel welcome. This is their haven, their sanctuary, their temple of learning. Teachers are the high priests and priestesses. Give them three things: a sense of importance and being valued; a sense of safety and security; and a sense of purpose. You don’t need to bring back the cane- some students get enough of that at home.

    Please can we leave nepotism, croneyism, favoritism, party politics, exclusive religion (in other words, allow prayer, just make it non-specific so it excludes children of faiths other than Christian) and prejudice outside the education system?

  16. sse says:

    I’m probably going to sound like a broken record but….
    Middle Schools. When are we going to get rid of this obsolete system.