Re: Some Questions regarding the choice of site for The Community School of Sandys Parish
Note: WE = West End Primary School; SP = Somerset Primary School Re Acreage
There has been an assertion that the SP grounds are almost 1.5 acres larger than WE. But Google Maps measures SP – including Somerset Preschool – as only approximately 0.86 – 0.89 acres larger. Of this, Somerset Preschool measures 0.84 acres.
– Will Somerset Preschool be retained or demolished?
– If Somerset Preschool is retained, then does the Ministry agree that the SP site is only 0.03 – 0.05 acres larger than WE?
– Is it true that SP is the preferred new Community School mainly because its slightly larger acreage would allow the government to build a world class facility there? – Is it also possible to build a world class facility on a site that is 0.03 – 0.05 acres smaller?
– What evidence is there that a world class facility cannot be built on a site that is 0.03 – 0.05 acres smaller?
– What evidence is there that a 21st century education is impossible to offer on a site that is 3.52 acres (just 0.03 smaller)?
– What site feasibility / cost studies have been done about the architectural / engineering potential and respective advantages of building a new school at each site? Re Scoring System WE scored just 5 points less (on a weighted average basis) than SP.
The Scoring System measures only physical / material factors.
– Are physical / material factors the only consideration in determining which school should be chosen as the new Community School for the parish?
– Why were history / legacy factors not included in the Scoring System? If history / legacy factors had been included as factors to be considered in this decision,
– how would WE score? – given the facts that: o it was founded in 1869 (152 years ago) – one of the very first free schools available to Black children
o it effectively operated for 15 decades as THE Community School for the parish (eg fund-raisers, held for families in crisis; a supporter of/ supported by Black businesses; home of the Somerset Brownies for ¾ of a century; AME Church members reading program)
o multi-generations of the community built, maintained and supported the school during periods of government neglect o the school is situated as a hub amongst local, long established businesses – how would SP score – given the facts that: – it was an exclusive school until the early 1970s (known to many residents of the parish as “the White school”)
– Blacks were not even allowed to set foot on the grass (of the very grounds now touted as an advantage over WE)
– Resources budgeted for WE were diverted to SP (eg new desks were sent instead to SP whilst WE was given SP’s cast-offs)
– Is it likely that WE would score sufficiently higher than SP if history / legacy factors were included in the Scoring System to at least equalize the scores? With respect to physical / material factors:
– Did the scoring system equitably weigh WE’s safer bus route and walking routes?
– Did the scoring system equitably weigh WE’s proximity to older siblings at Sandys Middle School?
– Why did the scoring system not include proximity to Somerset Cricket Club’s youth sport programs? Re Legacy
– Even with modest weight attached to history / legacy factors in the Scoring System, if these were included along with physical / material factors, is it likely that WE would have a total score that is higher than SP?
– If so, does the Ministry agree that the school with superior history / legacy factors and roughly equal physical / material factors is a compelling candidate to remain as The Community School of the parish?
– If so, what other compelling reasons are there for choosing SP over WE? – What weight / importance should be given to the fact that it was WE, not SP, that functioned as THE community school for 152 years?
– What weight / importance should be given to the fact that WE founders could never have bought the SP site due to racism at the time?
– What weight / importance do you give to the deep hurt that Somerset people feel about the possible decision to designate SP instead as The Community School?
– If a desired outcome of school reform is equity, how is it equitable to prefer to house all Black children of the Parish on the site where their forefathers were rejected?
o Does the Ministry have research or evidence that sense of Place and belonging is irrelevant to student feelings (that the Ministry’s recent Rotary presentation said is important)?
o Does the Ministry have evidence that sense of Legacy and pride is irrelevant to student confidence and development? In this case, the Legacy of 152 years of THE Community School laying a foundation for a warm, closely connected community, for which Sandys Parish is well known, is clear.
– A recent public presentation by a Ministry consultant asserted that feelings are as important as grades when measuring student success. Why should feelings be discounted in the decision to jettison the role of WE as The Community School in favor of the school with the legacy of enormous pain to the community?
– It has been argued that, if SP is chosen, WE’s history / legacy would be preserved. What evidence is there that this has this been the case for other schools that were disbanded – eg Howard Academy, the Bermuda Technical Institute?
– SP’s website has already erased its own history of racism: nowhere is it acknowledged that it became an integrated school only in the early 1970s. It is true that since then, SP has had good Principals and student experiences?
What is the rationale for using the last 5 decades as a factor instead of the last 15 decades?
– What is the basis for the Ministry’s confidence that the choice of the SP site would honour WE’s history?
– It has been suggested that SP be renamed WE: would that have the effect of rewarding and sweeping SP’s history under the rug whilst punishing and insulting WE’s history by displacing its site?
– It has been suggested that other community uses can be designated for the WE site. Why couldn’t such uses equally be designated for the SP site?
– Why, despite a constituency that has solidly supported this government for decades, is WE again having to fight for its legacy and respect? The community has repeatedly had to resist assaults against the dignity of the school and wisdom of the community: eg (a) 1962 architectural folly of breezeways (b) early 1980s attempt to reduce WE’s entry form 1 classes (but increasing SP’s) (c) 1995 contemptuous plan to name the new prison in Dockyard ‘West End’.
Why are we here again?
All vestiges of our racist and colonial past need to be abolished. SP has only been open to the community of Sandys for the last 5 decades while WE has served the entire community for 15 decades.