“We will begin the school year in the building by Antokolska Street on the 1st of September. The reception class and the first ones will stay there on the 2nd of September. We invited the students of the 11th and 12th classes to help us. The rooms at the Minties Street haven’t been finished yet so the students will help us, at least, with moving the chairs and desks from the school gym into the classrooms” – said Edyta Zubel, the headmaster of the Joachim Lelewel High School, during the meeting with the parents. On Friday, the parents and the management of the school met at the Minties Street where, so far, only a branch of the Antoni Wiwulski School worked. Starting from September, the whole school is supposed to be moved, in order to assess the progress of the renovation and agree on the further actions.
“We came here to see how the renovation is being done. Today’s meeting was organized by the parents. It was announced on a shared group on Facebook. The announcement said that the parents will gather by the building of the school. My son has successfully finished the sixth grade but I don’t know yet in which school building he will be taught this year. They promised that the renovation will be finished by August the 26th, and this day is today” said Mrs. Beata who came to see the progress of the renovation of the new building.
“The place where the children will study makes no difference. Maybe it is even better that it will be a newly renovated building. I don’t see a problem” said one of the parents.
“We don’t want, we very badly do not want our children to be moved to another school. The school in Antakalnis is our history. My parents, me, and now my children were taught in this school. It is good and comfortable there. The school building in the Antakalnis has a larger gym and a more comfortable canteen. The worst thing is that the moving of this school is not our choice, someone else has made this decision instead of us” stressed Mrs. Anna whose children also attend the Lelewel School.
While the parents and the headmaster Edyta Zubel were watching the progress of work inside the building, the constructors were carrying on their work.
“My son will start the fourth grade. From what I see now, there is no end in sight…” noted Mrs. Walentyna. Someone quipped that it would be good if the renovation is completed before Christmas.
“We will not let our children enter the new building until the renovation is finished. That was settled in May and we will do so” – said Mrs. Jadwiga whose children will start the 5th and the 7th grade. “We will not come to the new building at all. We will not enter the new building, full stop. We will stand pat. The stage of the renovation is clearly visible. That’s simply irresponsible. It is about our children, so we are going to strive for it”-the mother of the students added.
“We, the parents, decided that we will meet on the 1st of September, in the school building in Antakalnis. I don’t care about the renovation. I am totally against moving the children into this new building. It is good in Antakalnis. We have never complained. It bothers someone else, so why are our children harmed? The court hasn’t made the decision yet, so I think that something can still be done and we will not have to move from the old building” – hopes Mrs. Anna, one of the parents who came to see the building.
“There was a gathering of parents on the 25th of August and we have talked about the problem concerning the beginning of the school year. It is the way it is, we all regret that the situation looks like this. However, we can not cancel the beginning of the school year. The members of the staff had to choose an option which would cause the least harm” – explained the headmaster Edyta Zubel.
“On the 1st day of September, we are starting the new school year in the building on 33 Antokolska Street at 9 AM. From September the 2nd, the reception class and the first classes will stay in the school building in Antakalnis until the renovation of the interiors of the building by Minties Street is finished. The construction workers informed us today that the renovation will be finished by the end of September. The new building (3 Minties Street) will be ready on September the 5th (Monday). Therefore, on September the 2nd, the students of grades 5-12 will have a non-traditional day. We invited the students of 11th and 12th grades to help us. The classrooms are not ready so they will assist in moving the chairs and the desks from the school gym into the classrooms” – said the headmaster.
“The builders announced that on the 5th September there will be 7 classrooms ready with the floor coverings, where the classes will be allowed to start” Edyta Zubel added. The construction workers informed that the building finishing will last till the end of September, so, according to the headmaster, the students will have to “suffer for a month, maybe two” until the work is finished. The renovation works will be continued every day, just after the lessons end and the desks are moved out of the classrooms.
“As it is known, over 50 percent of the parents, and maybe even more, do not agree for the transfer of the Lelewel School to a new building at Minties Street. Besides, at the gathering in May, the representatives of the government promised that the renovation will be finished on the 26th of August. They did not keep their promise” – said Danuta Narbut, the ex vice-principal of the Administration of the Local Government of Vilnius from AWPL, and offstage, a mother of a student of Lelewel School.
The headmaster signified willingness to discuss and to seek a compromise, however, the parents reminded again that the promise made in May has not been kept. The parents were discontented with the staff making decisions without consultation with the parents.
“I have mentioned it in spring already that there will be a conflict between the headmaster and the parents. It has happened just now” – Danuta Narbut noted while appealing to the parents to stay together and not to resign from the school.
A day before, on August 25, the Ambassador of Poland in Lithuania Jarosław Czubiński met with the Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius and they also mentioned the subject of renovation of the Lelewel School. “I told about the situation in the Lelewel School where the construction workers are finishing the renovation in the building at the Minties Street. The school is being moved to a really neatly renovated building” Šimašius said in a conversation with zw.lt. “I’ve told that to the ambassador and I want him to convey that message to the Polish side. I did this, so that those issues do not thwart the relations of the two countries” – the mayor has added. He has also added that the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania wants to show during the political campaign that the students and the parents of the Lelewel School are getting harmed. “I can see that the headmaster of the school is under pressure. They want to show that everything is wrong” – the host of Vilnius clarified his view.
The vice-mayor of Vilnius, Valdas Benkunskas, also assured the parents and the students of the school that the renovation, which started in July, will end in the first days of September. The local government channelled 2,3 mln euros for the renovation of the school.
The parents seemed very concerned during the inspection of the renovation in the building at the Minties Street. The school community expects particular information from the vice-mayor of Vilnius, Valdas Benkunskas. There will be a meeting on the next Tuesday, also in the building at the 3 Minties Street. The headmaster, school administration, the vice-mayor, and probably the representative of the parent-teacher association will take part in the meeting. The final acceptance of the invitation from the vice-mayor is yet to come.
Tłumaczenie by Weronika Cysdorf w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Weronika Cysdorf within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.