No Answers for GBS Parents, Teachers As New School Year Fast Approaches

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Parents and teachers of Guy Benjamin School students conducted an emergency meeting on Friday, July 22 at the St. John Legislature Building to address more concerns that have surfaced recently regarding the small school in Coral Bay.

Parents and teachers of Guy Benjamin School students conducted an emergency meeting on Friday, July 22 at the St. John Legislature Building to address more concerns that have surfaced recently regarding the small school in Coral Bay.
“We met in order to get some answers to some problems that parents are having registering their children for the current school year,” said Lorelei Mon-santo, a former president of GBS’ Parent Teacher Organi-zation and St. John community activist.
The late-July meeting drew over a dozen concerned parents, teachers and citizens, including St. John Administrator Julien Harley, whose wife is a long-time teacher at GBS.
“St. John Administrator Harley came to the meeting and advised us that he would schedule a meeting with the superintendent (of the Department of Educa-tion) himself and invited three members of the meeting party,” said Monsanto. “He apparently has hit several brick walls.

Superintendent Still Acting

Dr. Emily Carter is currently the acting superintendent for the St. John/St. Thomas Insular School District, a position she took over after former superintendent William Frett retired on June 30. Carter was the deputy superintendent under Frett since 2003.
Governor Charles Turnbull offered Carter the position of superintendent, the highest ranking Department of Education position in the St. John/St. Thomas school district except for commissioner, in early July, but she has not yet accepted the offer.
“I tried to set up a meeting with Dr. Carter, but she told me that she is not the superintendent and she doesn’t know if she is going to accept the job,” said St. John Administrator Harley. “I could not set up a meeting with other Department of Education officials.”
GBS has been plagued with problems in recent years including the involuntary transfer of special education teacher Jane Roskin last year. Since then, parents, students and teachers have battled rumors of the school’s closure and Department of Edu-cation claims of declining enrollment.

Registration Is August 15

Adding to the turmoil, education officials announced in July the kindergarten class at GBS was cancelled for the 2005-06 school year – even though the next scheduled St. John registration date is August 15.
“There is no kindergarten this school year as a result of a lack of students for the class,” the Department of Education’s director of public relations, Juel Anderson told St. John Trade-winds in a mid-July interview.
Parents who tried to register their children for other grades at GBS this summer were turned away as well, according to Monsanto.
“Several parents who tried to register their children for GBS were told that the school was full and they needed to register at Julius E. Sprauve School,” Mon-santo said. “The school year is fast approaching and we have no answers.”

Facility Renovations

Despite the lack of answers and much confusion, teachers, parents and volunteers have been sprucing up the buildings at GBS as well as renovating the run-down playground in anticipation of the new school year.
“We want the kids to feel good when they return to school in a few weeks,” said long-time GBS first grade teacher Patrice Harley.
Guy H Benjamin Elementary School students scored highest in the U.S.V.I. in the 2005 territory-wide standardized testing.