Portugal Cove-St. Philip residents thrilled with funding for new school

Residents of Portugal Cove-St. The Philip’s are excited about the prospect of building a new high school in the community. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Residents of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s agrees that the community is missing an important service: a high school where they can send their children instead of taking them by bus to St. John’s.

Andrew Smith has been raising his family in the seaside town of around 8,400 for seven years, but was considering moving.

But Smith told CBC News on Monday that the provincial government’s plan to build a new school in the city – announced in last week’s budget – means he won’t have to uproot his young family.

“We were really worried, kind of to the point where we thought maybe when the kids got to high school age we would move out,” Smith said.

“If you want young families to come and stay in those communities, obviously having good schools to send your kids to is something that will help people stay rather than seek opportunities elsewhere.”

Currently, Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s has a primary school and a middle school. On Thursday, Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said enrollment across the province is expected to rise significantly for the first time in 50 years.

Smith said her family always planned to stay in the community until her three children, ages 10, 8 and 3, pursue post-secondary education.

Cynthia Oliver, left, and her grandson Brayden say they are happy to hear that their community is getting a new school. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

But other parents told her it would take about 50 to 60 minutes by bus for her children to attend Prince of Wales Collegiate in St. John’s.

“It’s by no means an easy situation, but we’re certainly happy to be signed up for a new high school,” he said.

Same routine

Resident Cynthia Oliver said on Friday she had placed two of her children in schools in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s – then sent them to St. John’s High School.

Her grandson, Brayden, goes through the same routine.

“I don’t mind picking him up, but I’m glad he’s in the community,” Oliver said. “If the high school comes here, he’ll still be in the community, which is a good thing – not too far to go in the winter if you have to pick him up.”

Portugal Cove-St. Philip Mayor Carol McDonald says she is delighted with the provincial government’s plan to build a new school in her town. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Portugal Cove-St. Philip Mayor Carol McDonald said she had been trying to open a secondary school in her community for five years and was pleased with Thursday’s budget announcement. She too took her children by bus to St. John’s for school.

“I was so excited. I know the people of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s are excited,” McDonald said. “It took so long to prepare.”

McDonald said she wanted to see community outreach before any decisions were made for the location of the new school in her town.

“There’s a lot to think about. We have a lot of planning to do now,” she said.

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