WESTERN STAR: Bring back our school ... Alps residents call for institution's return
The people of the farming community of Alps in southern Trelawny want the community's primary school reopened.
At the end of the 2014-2015 academic school year, the Alps Primary and Infant School closed its doors due to a dwindling student population. Some residents are still upset.
"I couldn't believe something like that was done, because the school was very much important to the community," David Edwards told the WESTERN STAR.
"The whole a the people them around here, them grow inna that school. Back in the day, people from other community come here. Now the kids would have to come out of the community and go Ulster Spring to go to school. I think it is one of the worst things happen to Alps," he added.
It is understood that the school had little more than 30 students and three teachers, including the principal, at the time of closure.
Rosalee Ferguson, however, believes something could have been done to keep the school open.
She said that it now costs her more to send her son to school several miles away at Ulster Spring Primary, where students and staff of Alps were relocated.
"Me have to give my son $200 extra every day to buy lunch, when first time me coulda able to look after his lunch and take it by the school. People have to a pay fare back and forward. It much harder," Ferguson explained.
One man noted that each week he spends more than $4,000 to send his children to school. He said this money is hard to come by in the poverty-stricken community.
However, the principal of Ulster Spring Primary, Alonzo Rose, explained that the shutdown and student transfer were necessary.
"I know that school was there for a very long time and I know the sentiments attached to it, but if it didn't happen, then it would have happened now, because the population in the community has been dwindling," said Rose, who was the principal of Alps at the time. "So when it came to September, we weren't getting any numbers. I had to be teaching three classes. So the transfer was a win-win for the parents and students. It was smooth, we had no major hiccups. The staff here was very accommodating and the students just integrated. You would never know that they were attending another school."
He said that transportation was one of the major concerns when Alps closed.
"It is very difficult for the kids to get transportation there. So the government decided to provide transportation at absolutely no cost to any at all. One person was interested and he did it for about a few years," he said. "I couldn't get anybody else to do it. So many evenings, the children had to be walking and I became concerned. So because of that I made an arrangement, and that is how my bus started taking them to and from school."
Alps Primary has since been transformed into a HEART/Trust-certified vocational training centre.