PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The teachers have been informed by their department heads and subsequently from the principal of St. Maarten Academy that the Government has cut the subsidy of the FAVE board. This is mainly due to the student population falling below 285 at the P.S.V.E.
section. This means all teachers on contract on both campuses will not be renewed. At the moment the teachers are very uneasy because more than 14 teachers will lose their jobs in the coming weeks. This news could not have come at a worse time because exams are right around the corner.
Most teachers are upset and are trying to understand how the numbers at the P.S.V.E. section could have dropped so much overtime. There are many factors that can be considered but it doesn’t change the fact that due to the cut in subsidy, the school board will not be able to pay their salaries. The academic campus attributes the loss of their teachers due to the drop in the student population of their sister campus, the P.S.V.E. section.
Many teachers are wondering how this could have happened. Even though there is competition in the same area, how can a school drop from 445 to 271 in 3 years under the leadership of the new principal Lavern Nelson? More questions arise as teachers who are permanent and on contract worry about the future of their jobs. Up to date there has been no official word from the school board and this has caused quite some uncertainty among the staff. The permanent teachers are concerned that their hours will be reduced, hence a cut in pay and all contract persons will be released.
The teachers feel once again the Honorable Minster of Education, Wycliffe Smith has let the school system down. At the begin of the school year, the teachers of the P.S.V.E. section complained about the leadership of the new Principal, which has not changed and has gone on deaf ears. It is very obvious with the high failing rate of the studentsfrom last year, low enrolment projections for this year, high number of student absent during the school year and the demotivated teachers, one can only expect a catastrophic outcome at the end of the year. Unfortunately, the Minister has not been back to the school since he released his findings, while the teachers continue to suffer.
Just a couple of weeks ago there was another stand-off between the principal and her teachers where the WITU had to get involved to be the mediator. Unfortunately, the schoolboard continued to back the principal despite the downwards turn of the school under her leadership. It is important to mention that the school board, as employer has not met with their staff to discuss this situation since it started.
Consequently, Mrs. Claire Elshot, WITU President, mentioned in a separate meeting with the teachers that Mr. Duncan encouraged WITU to bring forth names of persons to replace Mrs. Lavern Nelson for consideration. We were made to understand that 4 names of local persons were submitted but the school board has yet to respond. One of those names that was on the list to be considered to be the next principal of St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. was Antonio Aventurin.