Monday, July 20, 2015

Wentworth School Closes

28 June 2015 in Wentworth
The Chignecto Central Regional School Board (CCRSB), a proxy for the provincial government of Premier Stephen MacNeil, has finally closed our school. It was a nice little school, fully utilised, no room to spare, still in good condition after 50 years, and attended by 23 students, rising to 30 within a few years. It was closed on the fourth attempt by the bureaucrats, because they felt that they could spend our rural dollars better in larger urban schools where their own children attend. It certainly helped their effort that they owned the Minister of Education, The Honourable Karen Casey, who still tugged her forelock at the bidding of the Superintendent, for whom she worked most of her life.

But here we were, to close the school.

The most surprising thing is that the school was open to us, on a Sunday. For the past six years the CCRSB staff, aided by the principal, Ms Elizabeth Aikens, has done everything in their power to shut us out of our own building. But today, it was open.

28 June 2015 in Wentworth
 The community, led by the Wentworth School Sustainability Association, organised a wake on the school grounds.
28 June 2015 in Wentworth
 There were play areas for the kids, and hamburgers for the adults.
28 June 2015 in Wentworth
 It was interesting to note who turned up. Not one of the CCRSB Board, who voted to close our school, showed up, despite their invitations. No CCRSB staff showed up either, although that was to be expected, as it was  a Sunday after all, and they need to rest from their labours. It's hard work closing schools, especially when you have to close three in one week.

28 June 2015 in Wentworth
 Our MLA, Jamie Baillie, showed up, and was warmly received. He has been a stalwart supporter of our school through the whole process, and I rather expect that he is disappointed in the actions and non-actions of other elected MLA's (Ms Casey come to mind) who were not in the least interested in examining the issue from the perspective of the folk who live here. Here, Mr Baillie is shown speaking with Ms Susan Rector, a former principal of our school, and one of the many teacher-principals who are so very warmly remembered by students and parents alike.

28 June 2015 in Wentworth
 And here is Ms Elizabeth Aikens, the last principal of the school. From all evidence, Ms Aikens was hired to come in to our school to push the community out, to wall it off from the people and parents who built it and paid for it, and to make sure that when the school was finally closed there would be no community organisations attached to it that could impede its closure.

I was around when Ms Aikens came. In very short order she had our CapSite out of the school, she had our community library gone (which we had started and furnished and financed), she had our Community School organisation banished, all keys in the community were called in so that if we wanted to use the school we had to pay her to come out from Truro and open our school, and she even managed to get one of the active parents banished, on the grounds that the parent had expressed disapproval of some of Ms Aikens' actions.

Ms Aikens has moved on, but we should shed no tears for her. With any luck she will continue to be paid her $90,000 per year as a principal, and when she retires she should expect to receive fully 70% of that sum as her annual pension, indexed to inflation, and topped up by taxpayers (that would be you and me) if the pension plan cannot pay out the benefits promised to her. She never lived here among us, she had no children in our school, and she had no ties to the community. She was paid to come in and close us down, and she did. She made our school into a fortress, safe from parents and taxpayers and students.

I thought that the traditional payment for such services rendered would be thirty pieces of silver but I was pretty sure that I could not find that among our parents. I was prepared to settle for 30 dimes, tokens of coins that were once silver, but I couldn't even find folk who would fund a going away present of thirty dimes.

There is a class struggle coming, between:

the folks who work in the private sector, the self employed, the farmers and fishermen and foresters and manufacturers who actually make things and generate new wealth, and who in fact represent the wealth of the nation; 

and the takers, civil servants who have never actually contributed to the economy but have always sucked the lifeblood out of it, the people who feel that they are smart and educated and know what is good for us, and who know how our money should be spent, and do not want to have to deal with the folks who actually make and do things.

The takers have big pensions and great benefits, and they will continue to take from us as long as they are able. That day will probably end soon.

But don't worry about Ms Aikens. She will float off and alienate some other community, under orders from the CCRSB staff. She will do just fine. Her kind always do.

It was a sad day for Wentworth.

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