School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee
Committee of the Whole Board Meeting
March 26, 2009
A meeting of the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board was held on Thursday, March 26, 2009, at Sandhurst Public School, 7831 Highway 33, Bath, at 6:30 p.m.
A. Goodfellow, Chair
H. Chadwick, Vice-Chair
Marg Akey, Supervising Principal
Ruth Bailey, Accommodation Review Facilitator
Glen Carson, Manager of Facility Services
Jane Douglas, Communications Officer
Barb Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
Richard Holmes, Supervising Principal
Brenda Hunter, Director of Education
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Andre Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
Norah Marsh, Superintendent of Education
Dale Midwood, Supervising Principal
Roger Richard, Superintendent of Business Services
Wayne Toms, Manager, ITS
Beth Woodley, Supervising Principal
and Executive Assistant
Chair Goodfellow advised that regrets were received from Trustee Crawford.
Chair Goodfellow called the meeting to order, introducing herself. She welcomed those present to this evening’s meeting of the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board.
Chair Goodfellow stated that the purpose of this meeting is to receive input from the public, concerning the report from the Greater Napanee Program and Accommodation Review Committee, as well as the Senior Staff’s Report.
Chair Goodfellow indicated that the nine Trustees of the Limestone District School Board who are the decision makers in the accommodation process are here tonight to hear from members of the public.
Each Trustee introduced him or herself, advising of the district that he or she represents.
Chair Goodfellow stated that the role of the Trustees this evening is to listen to the public’s input. She advised that Trustees have received the Greater Napanee PARC Report, as well as the Senior Staff Report. She said, however, as a committee, they have not discussed these materials and certainly have not made any decisions. She commented that as individuals, Trustees have been reviewing the reports informing themselves about the content.
Chair Goodfellow indicated that the Greater Napanee PARC Report and the Senior Staff Report have been posted on the Board’s web site for some time. She said that she trusts that members of the public have had an opportunity to read both of them.
Chair Goodfellow remarked that one report is not more important than the other and that the input provided this evening is as important as the input from the PARC meetings. All of the materials and comments will be considered carefully by the nine Trustees in their decision making.
Chair Goodfellow stated that this evening is the public’s opportunity to speak directly to the Trustees before they begin their deliberations and decision making. She asked the public not to be offended when the Trustees do not interact with them about their input to the PARC Report and the Senior Staff Report. She said that the public should be assured that the Trustees will be listening very attentively to the opinions and ideas expressed this evening. She said that minutes are being taken and the input will be recorded as accurately as possible so that Trustees can refer back to it and review the comments made. She said that if, when the two reports are examined and all of the input, including from this evening, we find that we need further clarification we will consult the appropriate people.
Chair Goodfellow reported that at the table tonight, as well as the Trustees, are the Director of Education, Brenda Hunter, and the Superintendent of Business, Roger Richard, noting that they are here in their roles as Secretary and Treasurer of the Board, to support the Trustees as needed. She indicated that the Superintendents, Supervising Principals, Managers and members of the Greater Napanee PARC were also in attendance in the audience. She advised that the Board’s Recording Secretary, Darlene Kirkpatrick, will be taking the minutes of the meeting, including each speaker’s comments.
Chair Goodfellow stated that in the package that was handed out this evening, are:
• The agenda for this meeting;
• An outline of the presentation on the accommodation review process;
• A copy of the protocol for receiving input tonight, which she said that she will review later in the meeting; and
• A copy of the body of the Greater Napanee PARC Report and the Senior Staff Report in case anyone would like to reference a particular section when they make their comments.
Approval of Agenda
MOVED BY Trustee McLaren, seconded by Trustee Chadwick, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried
Overview of Greater Napanee Accommodation Review Process
Superintendent Richard provided an overview of the Greater Napanee Accommodation Review Process, as follows:
• In January 2008, the Limestone District School Board approved the formation of the Greater Napanee PARC with the mandate to review program and accommodation issues and make recommendations to the Director of Education for the H.H. Langford Public School, Sandhurst Public School and Westdale Park Public School group of schools.
• On July 14, 2008, the Ministry of Education gave initial planning approval of $10,337,430 to address facility condition for students in the H.H. Langford, Sandhurst and Westdale Park schools for 655 new pupil places.
• PARC Greater Napanee held 12 public working meetings between April 17, 2008 and January 7, 2009.
• PARC Greater Napanee held four public meetings to present information, respond to questions and receive input from the public. The meetings were interspersed among working committee meetings.
• PARC Greater Napanee initially considered 13 potential options for the schools in the review.
• The PARC report was finalized by the committee at their working meeting on January 7, 2009 and the final report was presented to the Director of Education on Friday, January 9, 2009.
• Senior Staff reviewed the PARC report and all of the support materials and submitted a report as per Board policy to the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole (SE/SCC) on Monday, February 9, 2009.
Superintendent Richard reviewed the PARC Process – Timelines/Next Steps, noting that Senior Staff will provide a follow-up report at the April 8, 2009 Board Meeting, and that the Board decision regarding the Greater Napanee PARC could be made as soon as the May 27, 2009 Board Meeting. However, if the Board feels it may need more time, this decision may be delayed. The creation of a School Integration Committee will follow the Board’s decision.
Chair Goodfellow referred to Policy 15 (School Accommodation), section 3.2.0 Board Meeting for Public Input, and read the following paragraph:
“The Board/SE/SCC will hold a meeting for public input no sooner than 30 days after Senior Staff’s report and recommendations are presented to the Board in public session, in order to provide an opportunity for the public to make formal presentations to the Board concerning Senior Staff’s report and the matters that are addressed in it and in the PARC report. The public meeting will be scheduled at one of the affected schools.”
Chair Goodfellow stated that Trustees value the input from the public, and this evening is the public’s opportunity to tell the Trustees how they are feeling and to provide input on Senior Staff’s report. She said that the Trustees will listen very carefully to what is being said.
Chair Goodfellow reviewed the Protocol for Receiving Input at Public Meetings, asking those present to look at the paragraphs numbered 1 to 5 in their package. She said that we would like to follow these points to ensure that as many speakers as possible have the opportunity to provide input to the Committee and that everyone can hear the comments.
1. Persons wishing to speak should move to the microphone and the Chair will recognize each speaker consecutively.
2. Each speaker shall identify him or herself; the school community in which s/he lives or where his/her children attend school; the group or organization, if any, for which he or she serves as spokesperson.
The Chair indicated that Jane Douglas, the Board’s Communications Officer, will be near the microphone to ensure that names are recorded correctly and to assist those with the sound system if needed.
3. The Chair will require adherence to a five (5) minute maximum time limit allotted to each speaker.
The Chair advised that Wayne Toms, the Board’s ITS Manager and Planning Officer, will be tracking the time. When he indicates that five minutes has passed, the speaker is asked that the microphone be given to the next speaker.
4. A speaker may address the committee only once during the course of the meeting.
5. Persons whose comments are not heard due to time constraints or speakers who would like to add to their previously recorded comments may communicate in writing with the PARC Facilitator, Ruth Bailey, within five (5) days, for inclusion of their comments with the input from this meeting.
The Chair indicated that information about how to contact Ruth Bailey, the PARC Facilitator, is listed at the bottom of the protocol page and on the Board’s website. She said that Mrs. Bailey may be contacted at the Board Office, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, K7L 4X4, or by telephone at 613-544-6925, extension 206, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scheduled Formal Presentation
Dana Thompson-Green, parent of a student at H.H. Langford, with another child starting school in September, made a formal presentation.
Ms. Thompson-Green thanked the Board for their time, and asked that Trustees ponder the following two statements taken from the LDSB web site when they consider the options:
“Our Students, Our Future” and “Our students are the reason for our being.”
Ms. Thompson-Green presented the following statement:
“I feel that these two statements should be pinned to your refrigerators.
I would like to begin with my take on the two options provided by the Senior Staff:
In addressing option 1a – The Senior Staff stated on page 10 in their report that they had reviewed a peer-reviewed school size research and found that school size in itself is not detrimental to the provision of effective education. There were 4 research papers submitted that explored why school size does matter and the optimal size for a school is not above 400 pupil spaces. Upon reviewing the peer-review my thought is that it supports the communities’ opinion that we should be concerned. However, in being limited in time to fully review the information I would have to say that - to paraphrase from the newspaper this single report should not “trump” the 4 studies.
In addressing option 1b – I understand that this option is to help with the school size issue. However, it only scratches the surface in decreasing the size of the school by less than 15%. This option contradicts the statement on page 10 as in its essence it opens the door to admitting that there must be some validation to the reports supporting that larger schools are not in the best interest of the pupils.
As I have read through the Senior Staff Recommendations I have struggled to contain my disappointment in what is perceived as the reason behind them is totally based on money. Instead of looking at the $12 million dollars as such a positive for our community it is looked at as not enough. I believe we need to work with the money we have been given and take a much closer look at how to make the two school option work for the benefit of everyone involved.
I have taken many different approaches to the information we have been provided with and I keep coming back to what is best for the children and the communities involved. I remember at the 4th public meeting when Jessica Kaiser said we are all grasping at straws to try to make the PARC committee understand that we do not want just one new school. Paula Chapman submitted 4 studies as to why smaller school environments make more sense in the “big picture”. I stated at the 4th public meeting that the PARC needs to be true to the communities in which they are here to represent. I challenge each and every one of you to do just that. Stop telling us what we cannot do and start telling us how we can make this work.
The guesstimates of building one new school as opposed to two have been based on assumptions of school size, location, and renovations. I do not understand how you can even begin this process without having locations that are being considered and then school designs that would work for two new schools. I would think that the communities that cover such a large area would be much happier with schools that have greater functionality rather than one school that “Transcends Functionality”.
Although I can appreciate the work that the Senior Staff have put into their recommendations I feel that there are too many variables and too many assumptions for the two school option to be dismissed so readily.
The quotes that were given to build one school or two schools were based on tenders put out for additions on Bayridge SS and the addition to the board office. When it comes to the difference between new construction and additions, new construction is substantially less expensive.
My first thought is to straighten out the catchments, so that you do not have buses travelling past the doors of one school to get to another.
If you were to make the Napanee River the dividing line this would alleviate part of the overcrowding at The Prince Charles Public School (FTE full time equivalent - 458 – ONGC on the ground capacity - 441). We could then have two town schools. The Prince Charles School would accommodate the students to the east and Westdale would accommodate the students to the west of Napanee.
Once the new catchment areas have been established then my “guesstimate” would be that the new rural school would be accommodating approximately 400 students with the increase coming from The Prince Charles School. There are two properties that we know of located on County Road #8 one of which currently houses Lennox & Addington Resources for Children and the second being the old South Fredricksburgh Hall – now the Library. Both of these sites I would think should be considered for the location of the new rural school for the Sandhurst and H.H. Langford Students. This would address #8 on page 15 of the Senior Staff Report.
I am sure that there are many people here tonight that would also like to share their opinions with you. I would like to thank everyone for their time and leave you by reiterating that you need to be true to the communities in which you are here to represent and I challenge each and every one of you to do just that. Stop telling us what we cannot do and start telling us how we can make the two school option work.”
Nathan Amey, stated that he was representing himself. His presentation was as follows:
“Hello, my name is Nathan Amey and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Limestone District School Board for providing this open forum here today.
I have worked for Greater Napanee and thus; this community, in varying facets since 1994. I'm proud to say that I grew up in North Fredericksburgh & equally proud to say that I now reside in South Fredericksburgh (only a few houses East of the Sandhurst Public School). I attended H.H. Langford for the first 4 years of my education before transferring to The Prince Charles Public School for the purpose of enrolling in the French Immersion program which was offered exclusively at that school. Having said that, I can now say that I have had both the Rural & Urban school experience and can now offer an accurate comparison of what this community's children will be going through pending the outcome of these proceedings. At this point in my life, I do not have children of my own. This means my opinion on the Rural vs. Urban school
proposal is virtually an unbiased one.
Having the benefit of experiencing both types of education, I can assure you that I was well informed when it came to making the biggest financial investment of my life. When I was ready to purchase my very first home less than 2 years ago, I gave consideration to many factors. Where to put down my roots & establish my life was not a decision that was made over night. What enticed me to the South Fred area was the fact that it featured an established Public School as well as a proposed Volunteer Fire Station, which I interpreted as a sign that this community was investing in itself. The aforementioned Fire Dept. has now come to fruition and I can now say with great pride that I am an active member of the Dorland Fire Station.
Hearing that the 'powers that be' are opting to take investments out of this community negates 1/2 or more of my reasoning for putting down roots in South Fred. It's also going against the grain when it comes to the investments that have already been made in South Fred by Greater Napanee's Town Council using our community's tax dollars. Further to this and on a personal level, I am now committed to this community to the point where pulling out of the commitment I made less than two years ago, due to the loss of a community Public school, would cripple me in more ways than one. Yet, I have to wonder: What incentive is there for me to start a family in this neck of the woods when any prospective children I do have will have to be trucked off to another forest altogether?
Re-building on the Westdale School site is not as good of a solution as it may seem. I have done Parking Enforcement for Greater Napanee since April of 2002 and I can speak from experience when I say that there are already issues at the Westdale school site. The Town expends a lot of resources, at times, just to keep the traffic moving in front of that school and thus keep the neighbourhood's residents content. With a Rural School, that problem would not exist. In fact a Rural School would actually help minimize that ongoing issue at Westdale Park Public School. Adding more traffic to that area will only intensify the present safety concerns of pedestrian students still learning the dangers of moving vehicles.
The obvious counter to this argument would be: The parking issue will be addressed with increased parking areas on the re-built school site.
My retort to that would have to be: Not only would that proposal decrease the children's playground area, it would do nothing to address the percentage of the population that are in a hurry and park where they choose based on convenience and other factors. Again, I have done Parking Enforcement for the Town of Greater Napanee since April of 2002. During my very first week on the job, I was called to Westdale Park Public School and I can say, without exaggeration, that the frequency of complaints to that effect are still being received by the Town's By-Law Dept. to this very day.
I'd like to switch gears for a moment. I have brought with me today a copy of the March 12, 2009 Napanee Beaver. Specifically, I would like to draw attention to the "Looking Back" section.
I like reading these side columns because it enables me to imagine what life was like before my time. The column in the abovementioned Beaver is as follows:
"A look back at education in Lennox & Addington showed a massive increase in education spending in the County between 1968 & 1982. The L&A County Board of Education was formed in 1969. Over the next decade-and-a-half, spending increased 578 per cent. The rate of inflation over the same period of time was 301 per cent."
This means that the Board of Education felt strongly enough about the next generation to invest twice as much as the going rate of inflation!
What a commitment!!! I can only imagine how much pride I would feel if the people that spend our tax dollars felt that the children of this community are worth going above and beyond, to the point where they would invest twice as much as the inflation rate of the time. With the current proposal, it would seem that the pendulum has swung so far the other way that money is being valued to the degree where a child's education takes a back seat.
I put forth the proposition that we need to see the kind of commitment, heart and mindset, which was demonstrated in the past by the Board of Education, put back into this community! We are worth it and so is the coming generation of South Fredericksburghians!
In closing, if the proposed Urban "Super School" goes through, any young people thinking of "putting down roots" in this community, specifically North & South Fred, will be discouraged from doing so. Over time our community will pay and so will its children! There are more important things in life than money. This is simply a prime example of where we need to recognize that children come before currency!
Thank-you for your time today.”
Eric Kaiser, North Adolphustown, stated that he had four children who attended H.H. Langford Public School, and that he has three grandchildren attending that school at this time, and that he will have great-grandchildren attending that school.
Mr. Kaiser stated that the notion that bigger schools are better and provide more is invalid. He indicated that he had attended a one-room school in Prince Edward County, as well as his six siblings. He commented that they were well educated, noting their degrees.
Mr. Kaiser stated that while he and his siblings walked and bicycled to school, they did not do that exercise for one hour. He remarked that the transportation guideline of children riding on a bus for up to 60 minutes one way is inappropriate.
Mr. Kaiser indicated that he has been involved in various types of organizations, and staff of organizations are there to support the elected representatives. He said that staff are there to support the community and the Board, not to support themselves. He said that staff’s job is significantly impacted by the decision, noting that they have a strong vested interest in their report, and if Trustees do not consider that and reduce the value of staff’s report, then Trustees are not doing their job properly. He said that staff are there to support Trustees, not to rule them.
Mr. Kaiser stated that he would not disregard the report, but that he does not believe it should equal the report of the PARC.
Ellena Fleury, a parent of a child at H.H. Langford, and a child in the Autism Program at Welborne Avenue Public School, said that she had attended Westdale Park Public School. Ms. Fleury indicated that her child has attended Welborne Avenue Public School in Kingston since he turned six years old. She said that he attends Welborne’s Autism Program because the program is not offered in the area.
Ms. Fleury said that she was really for H.H. Langford, that she loves the little school. However, the Autism Program at Welborne has been wonderful for her son, who has a wandering issue. She said that her child could not get support at H.H. Langford as he is too high functioning. She said that she did not have a choice but to send her child to Welborne, but that at Welborne, which is a bigger school, there are more options for children with special needs. She said that her child does not want to return to H.H. Langford. Ms. Fleury said that big is not always better, but sometimes it is.
Ms. Fleury said that most of the children residing out at the Bay drive 25 minutes to school anyway. She indicated that the two school option would work too. She said that she has not attended meetings because she is not against the one school option. She said that if she did not send one of her children to school in Kingston, she might feel differently. Ms. Fleury commented that it is hard to compare one school to another because in a smaller school, there are split grades, and that there are not in a larger school. She said that these issues are important as well.
Ms. Fleury commented that sometimes people fear the unknown, and she believes that is what we have here tonight. She said that she has not personally had a bad experience at a bigger school. She said that change is different for everyone, and it is something we have to consider. She said that she believes the Board will make its decision based on the bottom line of today’s economics. She said that everyone in the community is not against the one school option.
Frederick Satterley indicated that he is a parent of two children who attend Sandhurst Public School. He thanked the Board for its time, and the people who constructed the information. He apologized to the people who have a different opinion than him, noting that his opinion is biased. He said that one of his children has two years left at Sandhurst, and the other has four years left.
Mr. Satterley indicated that he does not want to see his children on a bus, travelling one way for 45 or 50 minutes. He said that he bought his house 10 years ago, making an informed, educated decision as to where to reside. He said that he was born in Toronto and went to a large school, and that he knows the differences between a large and small school.
Mr. Satterley commented on the withdrawal of services by Teamster 91 Stock Transportation bus drivers, noting that he has several students at his home in order that they can go to school on a bus owned by a different company. He said that transportation is a real life issue and that there’s more than one union, and more than one contract, and more than one strike ahead.
Mr. Satterley referred to the disadvantage on page 9 in the PARC report, that states “Disruption to Westdale Park Public School during the construction phase of a new school on that site may result in the temporary los of playground space”, and said that his response to that is “Boo Hoo”. He said that the loss of playground space in only temporary.
Mr. Satterley stated that the difference between the one school and two school option is $1.7 million. He said that the one school option will go over budget by that amount, so why are we discussing it. He suggested that Sandhurst be left alone. He said that his family chose to move to the area, but that he does not want his kids shipped off loaded in a bus like cattle for 45 to 50 minutes.
Mr. Satterley stated that he appreciates the time, and hopes the Trustees are hearing what is being said with open ears. He said hopefully the public can educate the Board and sway them to the two school option.
Monique Calver advised that she is the parent of two children who attend H.H. Langford Public School. She said that she attended Prince Charles Public School in Verona from Kindergarten to Grade 4, and then her parents enrolled her at Rideau Public School. She commented that she had to catch her bus at 7:05 a.m., noting that the experience was not pleasant. She said that she had to walk to a bus stop and she hated it. She said that she went from a rural community to a city school, which was a large school. She said that because she had to catch a bus to return home, she could not participate in team sports or extra-curricular activities. She said that Trustees need to consider that situation also. Ms. Calver stated that she did not like the bus ride, noting that she had to catch her bus at 3:05
p.m., which was 25 minutes before school ended for the day. Ms. Calver stated that she knows that situation will not happen with the scenarios presented, but she does not want her children or her grandchildren to go through the same experience. She said that it is not just her children’s future; it is everyone’s future that we have to consider. Ms. Calver commented that with regard to dollars, the situation will be the same as everything in Greater Napanee, we will go over budget. She said that she would like two new schools and that the Board stay within the budgeted amount.
Paula Chapman advised that she has three children who attend H.H. Langford Public School. She commented on the Catholic school in Marmora. She also referred to a new school that was constructed in Trenton for 320 students. She said that the cost to build that school was $212 per square foot, noting that was the completed cost for the school.
Ms. Chapman handed in the on-line petition, which was set up by Jill Storey-Smith, noting that there are 188 signatures.
Ms. Chapman referred to the original draft that was set up by the Ministry of Education.
Ms. Chapman commented that parents do not want their children riding on a bus for 45-50 minutes.
Ms. Chapman referred to value to the school, and stated that H.H. Langford is the only school within the community, as is Sandhurst. She said that the Westdale Park Public School is the only community that is receiving growth, and how would that community grow if the school was closed.
Ms. Chapman stated that the value of the school within the community is reported several times in the document that comes from the Ministry directly. She commented on the unique communities of Sandhurst and Westdale Park schools.
Ms. Chapman stated that if a larger school was built, we would be looking at two gyms; the only thing different is that there would be one roof on one school, and two roofs and two properties for the two school option.
Irene Backholm stated that her children are grown. She said that she was a Trustees on the Catholic School Board, and that they knew how to manage on small budgets. She said that they fought to keep small schools open, knowing their value. She said that bigger is not better. Ms. Backholm commented that schools are for children. She said that to have children travelling on buses for 45 to 50 minutes each way is cruel and unjust. She said that elected officials represent taxpayers and should take direction from them.
Max Kaiser stated that he was a member of the Greater Napanee PARC, and he is the parent of three children who attend H.H. Langford Public School. He said that his wife and her sister attended H.H. Langford and that her father was among one of the first students who attended the school. He said his children are the third generation who have attended the school.
Mr. Kaiser referred to the Ontario Public School Board’s Association’s submission to the Minister of Education’s Declining Enrolment Working Group, noting that there are interesting words in that document. He said that in making decisions on closing schools, consolidating, etc., the primary value is what is good for students. Mr. Kaiser commented that consolidation should offer clear improvement for students, and create superior learning environments, noting that these words are from the Trustees’ colleagues from across the province. He said that based on these points, why are we repeatedly given the least-cost alternative. He said that there are no promises or suggestions of expansion to existing programs or new offerings at a consolidated school. He said that there is the suggestion
that larger body would have more gravity to draw district programs, but no guarantee. He said that there is no demonstration of clear improvement to students.
Mr. Kaiser commented on cost estimates vs. real estimates. He suggested that two schools are not so far out of reach. He said that perhaps we do not need a “cadillac” school if we get a “chevrolet” education.
Mr. Kaiser remarked on the one common in the Senior Staff Report, a single school option creates a building transcending functionality. He said that esthetics do not mean much inside the classroom. What matters is what children are learning.
Mr. Kaiser indicated that the PARC asked staff for studies and were not assisted. He said that some parents went looking and found several, all making positive arguments for small schools. These studies came from Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the United States. He indicated that small was defined as fewer than 400 students in an elementary school. He said that students did not necessarily score higher academically in a small school; however, they were much more likely to attend and complete post-secondary education, and to take part in extra-curricular activities within the school environment and outside. The students were also more rounded individuals.
Mr. Kaiser remarked that two schools would house approximately 350 students each, maximizing cost efficiency. He said that we have communities within the Greater Napanee area, with the town proper housing 1/3 of the residents of Greater Napanee and 2/3 south of the town where H.H. Langford and Sandhurst are located.
Mr. Kaiser stated that H.H. Langford is the key focal point for this Greater Napanee municipality.
Mr. Kaiser said that when previous boards saw fit to amalgamate one-room schools into what were then termed “super schools”, the result saw significant increase in costs to the residents in order to provide education, there was no benefit to the student at that time. He said that it still takes 12 or 13 years to complete our public education system, and how can we expect another level of consolidation to do any better? He challenged Trustees to consider some other thoughts.
Mr. Kaiser stated that two schools are preferred over elaborate facilities. He challenged Trustees to consider doing nothing, leaving the schools alone. He said that the schools are not unsafe. He said that new schools would need to be maintained.
Mr. Kaiser stated that early in the PARC process, prior to the final PARC report, he wrote his own draft, and that he will hand it in.
Trustee Jackson indicated to Mr. Kaiser that the Board is restricted to funding received by the Ministry of Education. He asked Mr. Kaiser if he had any ideas with respect to how other areas of funding could be accessed.
Mr. Kaiser said that he was a member of the PARC committee and they were told where the funding comes from, and limitations in the provincial budget. He said that the provincial government may have more funding for future PARCs. He said that with regard to fund-raising in the community, he has his own opinions, and would not want to speak for the residents as well.
Stacey Wayner spoke to programming. She said that she attended Ernestown Secondary School, which was a small school. She commented on the “Gemni” project which was only offered at that school. She said that special program was offered at a small school. Ms. Wayner said that she attended Bath Public School and Amherstview Public School. She said that she knew no one when she went to Amherstview Public School, and talked about those children who are shy getting lost in the system as they do not make friends easily.
David Remington commented that he had an opportunity to serve the community as Mayor of Greater Napanee a few years ago. He said that he had attended H.H. Langford Public School and The Prince Charles School. He advised that he had a chance to write the PARC Committee, expressing his support of the two school option.
Mr. Remington thanked the Board for coming out to listen to the community. He said that through his years in municipal government, he was involved in large construction projects, commenting on balancing fiscal accountability and looking at the community’s needs.
Mr. Remington said that he would not want to be in the Board’s position, considering the PARC Report recommends a two school option, and the Senior Staff Report recommends one school.
Mr. Remington stated that he thinks the ministries have worked in “silos” previously, and now they need to reach out and work with other ministries. He commented on finding opportunities for partnerships. He said that he does not know if the Board has met with the Town of Greater Napanee with regard to opportunities for using their facilities. He commented on the opportunity to try to maintain rural post offices and rural businesses being a challenge.
Mr. Remington commented on people not wanting their children to travel on a bus for one hour. He said that declining enrolment impacts the nature of a community as if people know that schools may close in a rural community, they may choose not to leave in a rural area.
Mr. Remington remarked that schools are hubs of rural communities. He challenged the Board to move into potential partnerships with other municipalities.
Mr. Remington stated when he looks at the recommendations from Senior Staff he does not disagree because of the shortfall of money. However, he suggested that the Board reach out to partners and communities to see what options are available. He said that he recognizes the challenge the Board faces, and appreciates the work done. He said that he hopes the Board takes the time to explore all opportunities before it makes a decision.
Scott Hunter advised that he has a child attending Sandhurst Public School, and another one will be attending school in a few years. He said that at the last PARC public meeting there was a show of hands by audience members to see who was in favour of the two school option and who was in favour of the one school option. He asked if there could be a show of hands. Board members agreed. The majority of the people in the audience showed they were in favour of the two school option. One person raised her hand, supporting the one school option.
Mr. Hunter stated that the Board has a tough job in making a decision. He said that there are no facts in the information. He said that staff talk about properties to build a school, but they do not know where the specific property would be located. He said that they talk about extra programs, but they are not sure if the school will get them. He said that they have no idea how much it will cost to build a new school.
Mr. Hunter stated that he likes Sandhurst Public School, and that the community is happy with it. He said that the report talks about the septic system, and said how do staff know it needs to be replaced when they haven’t dug it up.
Mr. Hunter commented on more government funding. He said that one of the 13 options was that nothing be done, and suggested that things be left the way they are. He suggested that the Board talk to David Remington as he has had experience. He commented that the Board needs to have more facts in order to make a solid decision. He said that the community does not need anything fancy.
Michelle Jones, a Sandhurst Public School parent, said that she supports everything Mr. Hunter had said. She said if the school is closed, it takes away from the parents and children. She said that she would like to see the three schools remain open, indicating that she does not want a super school. She said that she does not want a four year old attending a super school, or travelling on a bus for 45 minutes each way, each day. She said that the closing of the schools takes away from the parents, their families and their children.
Jill Storey-Smith, a parent of a child who attends H.H. Langford Public School, said that the communities are not afraid of change, they understand the issues. She said that they understand changes will be coming down the road. She said that the community is looking to meet in the middle. She said that they are content with a school housing 350-400 students. The issue is the size of the school that is being proposed.
Ms. Storey-Smith stated that the parents have chosen to live where they do, and if the Board closes the school, a lot will be lost in the rural community.
Ms. Storey-Smith said that she has been doing research and understand that she has five days to submit additional information.
Ms. Storey-Smith said that there are communities where small schools have closed and the rural communities struggle to get people to move into the area. She said that she could discuss with regard to Paula Chapman’s comments, that it is the silent child who is affected. She said that she chose to live where she does because she likes H.H. Langford’s environment for her child.
Peggy Shelley stated that she has children attending Sandhurst Public School, and she was also a member of the PARC for Greater Napanee. She addressed the single school option, where the students at Sandhurst will go to Bath Public School. She said that all schools affected by this PARC should be treated in the same way. She said that some of the students affected by this PARC would be going to a retrofitted school, while others would get to go to a brand new school. She said that sending the students from the three schools to one big school might be better. She said that if the Sandhurst students go to Bath Public School, they might be affected by another PARC. Ms. Shelley said that it would be wiser to eliminate too many students attending one school, by building two schools in this area. She
said that she does not want to live in one township and send her children to a school in another township.
Brian Li said that he has two children who attend Sandhurst Public School, and that he has a business that is not far away. He said that he understands the economics, and the position that the Board is in. He said that the schools under review in this PARC are not only the first ones to be considered for closure, and they will not be the last ones under consideration.
Mr. Li said that he understands about money; however, there is the human element that our children hope will be considered. He said that he is sitting “on the fence” with regard to the options. He said that he hopes the Board takes into account what people are saying because of the human element.
In response to a question from Mr. Li, Superintendent Richard explained that children attend high school depending on the catchment area in which they live. He said that at this time, the children who attend Sandhurst Public School reside within the Napanee District Secondary School catchment area.
Bonnie Boomhower advised that she is the School Council Chair at Sandhurst Public School, and that she has three children attending that school. She said that she was also a member of the Greater Napanee PARC.
Ms. Boomhower apologized to the community for not having information prepared for this evening’s meeting. She said that the matter of Sandhurst Public School students attending Bath Public School was brought forward at the PARC, and it was unanimously “shot down”. The PARC did not want to split the students at Sandhurst, with some attending Bath and the others attending the new school.
Ms. Boomhower said that the PARC was told that they could not discuss The Prince Charles School as they could only deal with the three schools under review. However, now Bath Public School is part of the report.
Ms. Boomhower stated that she understands Sandhurst students going to Napanee District Secondary School for high school. However, she said that if the Sandhurst students were put in Bath Public School, the students currently in the Bath Public School catchment area would go to Ernestown Secondary School, while the Sandhurst students would go to Napanee District Secondary School.
Ms. Boomhower remarked that Sandhurst and H.H. Langford are currently twinned schools, and they do numerous things together. She said that she would love to have Sandhurst stay open. She said that the new school does not have to be a super school; parents are opposed to a super school. She said that she hopes we can “meet in the middle”. She suggested that one new school be built for H.H. Langford and Sandhurst students in the rural area.
Ms. Boomhower said that she hopes to have something more constructive within the next five days to forward to the PARC Facilitator, and she apologized to the Sandhurst community for not being more prepared this evening.
Bev Tullock indicated that she has three children who currently attend H.H. Langford Public School. She said that originally she went to Westdale Park Public School and she survived. She said that she does not know if anyone is present from the Westdale Park Public School community, noting that at most of the PARC meetings, the people in attendance were from H.H. Langford and Sandhurst Public Schools. She said that the H.H. Langford and Sandhurst communities prefer the two school option. She commented that H.H. Langford and Sandhurst are twinned, and already share resources, a Principal and Vice-Principal.
Ms. Tullock asked if Westdale Park Public School community members were not present because they wanted to be on their own. She said that H.H. Langford and Sandhurst can stand together as one school and Westdale Park Public School can stand as one school.
Dale Morrissey advised that he has one child currently attending Sandhurst Public School and another one will next year. He said that schools are not meant to stay around forever for a number of reasons. He said that he does not have the same emotional attachment to the school that some other people have. He said that he is okay with change.
Mr. Morrissey said that he believes the outcome was predisposed; however, it may not be as Trustees are present to listen to what the public has to say. He said that when he read in the Senior Staff Report the recommendation to have Sandhurst students attend Bath Public School, it struck him that our students are moving away from one township into another. He thought why not sell his house and move to another area, first Kingston and then Belleville. He commented on not shopping locally in Napanee, or doing business locally in Napanee. He said that he thought about looking at the Catholic Board to see if there were better programs and move his tax dollars there. Mr. Morrissey commented on perhaps not being the only person thinking that way. He said that if he moved his two children from Sandhurst
Public School, that would represent a 2% reduction to the school population.
Mr. Morrissey said that his grandfather was a farmer and woodsman in New Brunswick. He said that his grandfather attended a one-room school, having a grade 8 education. He advised of a couple of his grandfather’s sayings:
• If I run up against a bear and politician, I would rather hang out with the bear before the politician because the bear could be trusted; and
• politicians always make it easy to say no.
Mr. Morrissey said that it is the Board’s job to say “yes” to the communities.
Jennifer Weese indicated that she was a member of the Greater Napanee PARC and that she has three children who attend H.H. Langford Public School. She said that she understands that the money is allotted from the Ministry and is based on a certain amount per student. She asked if students transfer out of the area, would the Board still get the same amount of money from the Ministry for a new school.
Superintendent Richard stated that when he was doing his presentation one of the points indicated that on July 18, 2008, a memorandum advised of the initial allocation to the Board. He said that the Board before it starts the design process, has to get approval from the Ministry and the Ministry will allocate the amount. He said that after final Ministry approval, the amount of money received would remain in place, even if there were not as many students.
Ms. Weese asked if the money would go if people left now. Superintendent Richard said that would depend on the Ministry and the Board’s enrolment projections over the next 5 to 10 years.
Crystal Smith stated that she is the parent of a child who attends Sandhurst Public School. She said that Sandhurst Public School is a piece of real estate. She said that we do not sell our house if it deteriorates, but that we fix it, we do not build a new one. She said that Sandhurst is a fantastic school, and let’s fix what’s wrong; don’t ditch it and build something new.
Tina Lewis, a Sandhurst parent, said that her children are the third generation to attend Sandhurst. She said that they chose to move to the community as that is where her relatives were, and they liked the environment of the school. She said that she attended the meetings and when told about a super school, she was told to keep her mind open. She said that she would like to see Sandhurst remain open. She said that the Board is talking about shortfalls in funding and commented on programming not being offered, or science labs put in.
Ms. Lewis said that if the students from Sandhurst attend Bath Public School, they are moving to a town environment. She said her children do not have access to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. She said that there have been drug busts in Bath. She said that she does not want children in that environment. She said that is why there are so many parents in attendance demanding that their children be left at the school. She said, “let’s not pull them out and throw them into a bad environment”.
Tanya Punchard advised that she has a child attending Sandhurst Public School. She said that she bought a house in the area, noting that her child is the third generation to attend Sandhurst. She said that her daughter loves Sandhurst. She said that her husband attended a Catholic elementary school, before attending Napanee District Secondary School in Grade 10. She said that she wanted her children to attend a public school. Ms. Punchard said that they have friends who teach at the Christian Academy in Napanee. However, she enrolled her daughter at Sandhurst, and is very happy with her education. She asked if her daughter would get the same care in a large school. She said that it is difficult to get her daughter up in the morning in order to catch a bus, and that it would be more
difficult to get her up earlier in order to catch a bus, and that she would be very tired especially after a long bus ride. Ms. Punchard said that her daughter loves the environment at Sandhurst Public School. She said that “everyone here knows everyone”. She indicated that parents from Westdale Park Public School are not in attendance; therefore, they are not showing support for the option they wish. She said the Sandhurst and H.H. Langford communities are here to show their support of the two school option. Ms. Punchard said that her daughter is happy at Sandhurst, and that she does not want her attending a school with 700 students, noting that she worries about recess and what could go on.
Chair Goodfellow thanked the public for their questions and comments. She said that they should not be concerned that Trustees are not providing answers tonight, indicating that Trustees will be examining the material thoroughly, and if they do not find the answers in the reports and the backup materials, they will consult with the appropriate people.
Chair Goodfellow stated that Trustees will study every piece of material that has been presented, and will come to a decision based on what is best for the children.
The Chair thanked those present for attending this evening’s meeting, and for supporting their schools by providing valuable input to the Committee.
Questions for Staff
What is the condition of Bath Public School?
Check details regarding costs at Marmora Catholic School.
Committee of the Whole Board to Rise and Report
MOVED BY Trustee Beavis, seconded by Trustee Murray, that the Committee of the Whole Board rise and report.–Carried
MOVED BY Trustee Beavis, seconded by Trustee McLaren, that the meeting adjourn at 8:15 p.m.–Carried