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Demographics do not support expansion of facilities at Padmore Primary-Ruel Reid

Published:Thursday | March 24, 2016 | 3:00 AMAndre Poyser
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Ruel Reid addressing a press briefing at Jamaica House on Tuesday March 22, 2016.
Keisha Hayle
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A plea for the Ministry of Education to expand facilities at Padmore Primary has not garnered support from Minister of Education Ruel Reid.

Reid is of the view that the demographics of the geographic area in which the school is located do not support a plan for expansion.

?There is a brand new Red Hills Primary with a capacity of more than 600 serving the same communities as Padmore Primary. The demographics do not support an expansion of facilities at Padmore Primary at this time,? he said in an email response to The Gleaner.

Padmore Primary Principal Keisha Hayle has said the school is in need of additional classrooms and bathroom facilities, having grown its numbers from 38 to 251.

not being considered

When asked if the school is still being considered for closure in light of the increased student population, Reid insisted that the school was not even considered for closure in the first instance.

He also indicated that the most recent verification exercise shows Padmore?s enrolment at 245 and not 251 as claimed by Hayle.

?Since the implementation of the Small Schools Rationalisation Project in 2013, Padmore Primary was not placed on the list of schools earmarked for closure. I am not sure if it were, prior to 2013. The practice of amalgamating and or closing small unviable schools started in May 2013,? Reid said.

Previous media reports indicate that Dr Grace McLean, the ministry?s chief education officer, confirmed that Padmore Primary was on the list of schools that were slated for closure.

According to the reports, the school would have been placed on the list in 2013.

Hayle has indicated that she is considering taking up job offers overseas because of the lack of support from the ministry in her bid to have the school expanded.

When asked if he would dissuade her from such a consideration, Reid said: ?Freedom of movement is the right of every worker. It is not our practice or principle to stand in the way of any employee who would wish to move on.?

Reid went on to disclose that he would be continuing the practice of rationalising small unviable schools.

?The ministry is to conduct another appraisal of the existing 187 schools so categorised. However, we intend to implement other options in addition to closure; establish learning centres and facilitate the delivery of the curriculum in a blended learning environment, where technology is accessible,? he said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com