The Minister’s utterances in a public interview two days ago have not for one nanosecond gone unnoticed by the West End Warriors (WEWs), both in what was said, and, more importantly, in what was not said. What was said in fact goes a long way in explaining why the WEWs’ innumerable questions, and a publicly promised Town Hall meeting on November 15, 2022 with the WEWs by the Premier in Sandys, have not been respectively answered nor honoured, many, many months later.
What the Minister said is that, in relation to his decision to close West End Primary School (WEPS), “he is legally bound”. Well then, to whom, to what entity? Is there a legal contract that the WEPS, and the public at large in the interests of transparency, do not know about, and which the Minister hasn’t disclosed the details thereof? Are we contractually compromised, and under challenging terms and conditions, for years to come by the Minister’s binding? In any event, and on the face of it, are the Minister’s hands so tied that he cannot now resile or step back from a ‘deal’ he has made to an unknown entity even if he wanted to? Moreover, if he is so ‘legally bound’, are public funds tied up too, or implicated in the Minister’s legal obligations and responsibilities regarding this ‘irrevocable decision’ he is locked into? If so, then the public has a right to know the details of such an agreement.
Otherwise, there could be this unfortunate speculation by inquiring minds that the Minister, and the Ministry, are ‘hiding something’, are making deals behind closed doors.
But then isn’t the opening, or closing, of schools a policy, rather than a legal decision? The Minister, at a minimum, is morally obliged to explain himself in a more fulsome and transparent manner than he has managed thus far, you would think. He owes that much to the public.
With the Minister, and presumably by extension the Ministry, being “legally bound” in yet unarticulated ways; it is now crystal clear why the following information sought from the Minister and the Ministry have gone unanswered or unaddressed for now one year and more than seven months since first posed. Being “legally bound” to the contrary, renders any such superior comparisons or answers from the WEWs nugatory, and essentially an exercise in futility. Even if the Minister and Ministry agreed 100% with the WEWs’ evidence-based research etc. that puts the WEPS ‘head and shoulders’ above Somerset Primary School (SPS); the Minister is “legally bound,” and constrained, to ignore or turn a blind eye to such information, and to carry out his contract chapter and verse, or suffer the consequences, we presume.
In any event, the public deserves to know what we have repeatedly asked of the “legally bound” Minister, and his Ministry. The justification, and impetus, for the latter’s pronouncements, under-performance and non-performance to date is wrapped up in a paraphrasing of their words that “dismissing the WEPS (the hub Primary School of Sandys) is necessary because SPS is more centrally located and best for the children.”
We ask, where is the proof of this vague and vacuous claim? The WEWs submitted 59 specific questions of and to the Minister and the Ministry requesting proof of their claims. Several of these questions identified and addressed physical, psychological, community and historical issues that the Ministry woefully failed to take into consideration before making the decision to close the WEPS. To date, the Ministry has answered only 3 of those questions.
A PATI request more than one year ago for records to prove or buttress the Ministry’s scoring of only physical issues remains unanswered today. But for the fact that the WEPS’s overall acreage is 0.05 of an acre smaller than SPS’s; the Ministry has provided zero evidence, no cogent reasons, and no research or precise calculations to support the remaining comparators of its vague claim of superiority of SPS over the WEPS as the school that should remain open.
Sandys residents, and Bermuda public as a whole, as the intelligent people that you are, we ask you to arrive at your own conclusions about whether or not the Minister and the Ministry are truly acting in the “best interests of our children” in closing the West End Primary School, or indeed any school, using the alleged justifications, and methodology, they say that they are using.
The future of Sandys, and Bermuda, depends upon your careful weighing of, and informed conclusions on, these matters. We thank you for your continued support. The West End Warriors !
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