The Savannah Primary School Parent Teacher Association is set to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Education Tuesday asking the government to allocate more money to the school, which they say is struggling due to inadequate resources.
More than 300 people signed the petition, which has been circulating in hard copy and online since the PTA Executive Council meeting on May 20.
“We, the parents of Savannah Primary School students are gravely concerned at the unsatisfactory level of academic achievement and the increased behavioral related issues within the school,” the petition states.
The petition calls for the Ministry of Education to increase resources allocated to Savannah Primary, especially the number of teachers, support assistants and specialists.
“Without the appropriate resources being allocated, there can be no sustained improvement in the academic levels at the school,” the petition states.
Savannah Primary PTA executive treasurer Ashley Watler said there is a “dire need” for more resources at the school and that teachers there are “overwhelmed.”
According to the 2015 Baseline Inspection Report for Savannah Primary School, the overall effectiveness of the school is “unsatisfactory.”
Inspectors noted that all students are usually taught at the same pace, so that “lower attaining” students are helped to complete tasks while lacking an underlying understanding of the material, and “able” students are rarely challenged to “go further.”
“Support for lower attaining students and those with special educational needs is patchy,” the inspection report stated.
These report findings are echoed by several Savannah parents who signed the petition.
“I have cried many nights watching my oldest daughter struggle and not having the resources she needs … the classes are too big and one teacher for the juniors is not enough,” one parent wrote on the petition. Another signer said she did not believe her grandson was “being challenged enough” at Savannah.
Ms. Watler said that if there were more assistant teachers at the school, “things can be divided” and each child would have a better chance of getting the help he or she needs.
“We don’t want to leave kids behind, but teachers can’t do their job effectively if they don’t have assistance to do it,” Ms. Watler said.
Ms. Watler said Ministry of Education officials have previously said they could not allocate more money for staff in the 2016-2017 budget, which, she noted, applies to two school years.
Exacerbating the resource issues at Savannah Primary is the rapid student population increase over the past decade. The school had 174 students in 2004 and almost 500 students in 2016.
“It’s going to get worse,” Ms. Watler said. “We have subdivisions opening up all the time. We have two that will be open by the school year and there is going to be a growth in enrollment numbers at the school.”
To address crowding issues affecting both Bodden Town primary schools as a result of the population boom in the district, Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo has drafted a private members’ motion asking the government to build a third primary school in the district by no later than June 2018.
The motion states that the government already owns property in the district that would be suitable for a primary education facility.