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January 25, 2010 - School Enrolment/School Capacity Minutes
School Enrolment/School Capacity
Committee of the Whole Board Meeting
January 25, 2010

A meeting of the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board was held on Monday, January 25, 2010, at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, at 6:00 p.m.
Present Trustees:
H. Chadwick, Chair
G. Beavis, Vice-Chair
H. Brown
E. Crawford
A. Goodfellow
D. Jackson
B. McLaren
P. Murray
Present Staff:
Marg Akey, Supervising Principal
Barb Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
Richard Holmes, Supervising Principal
Brenda Hunter, Director of Education
Wynando Moore, Recording Secretary
Roger Richard, Superintendent of Business Services
Wayne Toms, Manager, ITS
Beth Woodley, Supervising Principal and Executive Assistant     
L. French, Trustee
        Chair Chadwick called the meeting to order.

Approval of Agenda

        MOVED BY Trustee Crawford, seconded by Trustee Goodfellow, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Senior Staff’s Follow-Up Report and Recommendations Re: Sharbot Lake Family of Schools’ Accommodation Review Process

        Chair Chadwick advised that the purpose of the meeting is to receive the Senior Staff report and ask any questions with reference to clarification of the recommendations and not to entertain discussions at this time.  

        Chair Chadwick called upon Director Hunter to present the Senior Staff report regarding School Accommodations for the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools.

Director Hunter thanked the Chair. She stated that as Trustees were aware, a Program and Accommodation Review Committee to explore accommodation issues in the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools was established February 13, 2008.  On August 24th the report of that Committee was delivered to the Director, providing a record of the meetings and deliberations of the Committee, as well as their final report and recommendations.

The Director, at this time, on behalf of Senior Staff, wanted to publicly commend the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC for its diligence, its thoroughness, its thoughtfulness, and its courage. She stated, “it could not have been easy.”

The Director indicated that the issues that this Committee were mandated to explore and address were significant and difficult. The recommendations they were mandated to develop have the potential to impact the future of education in our rural north, and the lives of their children. Aging and prohibitive to repair buildings, finite and insufficient financial resources, small student populations, geographically disparate from one another, all make it very difficult to come to easy resolutions. The Director commended the Committee for always keeping the students in the front of their deliberations, as they wrestled with how the Board could provide high quality, equitable and sustainable education for our students in the years ahead.

The Director returned to the issue of financial resources.  She stated the MOE funding model is workable for centres with large enough student populations to generate sufficient funds.  As Trustees will remember, the money for new construction comes on a per pupil basis - the more students, the more funding.  Economies of scale can be achieved where there are large numbers of students.  That is certainly not the case in the Sharbot Lake PARC schools, as Trustees will have seen through the various reports, including this report.  When the PARC’s report was received and also the MOE’s recent templates for the two LDSB approved new schools, Senior Staff realized that they were being faced with, frankly, an almost unsolvable problem.  Not enough money to build a new school.  Senior Staff approached the Ministry and discussed with officials how to proceed.    The Director indicated that it was clear that a recommendation from the LDSB was required before the MOE could proceed to help with solutions.  She stated, “So we are here tonight to present to you the report from the Senior Staff that responds to the report and recommendations from the Sharbot Lake PARC.”

The Director outlined the process as follows.  Senior Staff would be presenting the report; Facilitator Ruth Bailey would be presenting the summary details and possibilities; and then the Director would be presenting the specific Senior Staff recommendations.

The Director indicated, that as per the LDSB Accommodation Policy and past practice, Trustees may ask questions for information and clarification purposes only, not to initiate a deliberation or discussion or to advance an opinion.  That would occur at a later stage of the process.  She further indicated that at the end of this meeting, it is expected there will be a motion to receive the report, that would not indicate agreement of its content, only that the Board has received the report.

The Director advised that following this meeting there will be a public consultation meeting of the SE/SCC of the Whole Board to receive public input on both the PARC Report and Senior Staff’s report. This must occur no sooner than 30 days following tonight’s meeting, and has been proposed this afternoon to Trustees for a date in early March.  Following that meeting, Senior Staff will present a follow-up report that responds to the input received.  She advised that then and only then, at one or more subsequent SE/SCC meetings, will the Board discuss, deliberate and finally proceed with a recommendation.  Barring any clarification questions, the Director asked the Chair, if she could request Facilitator Bailey to proceed with the presentation of the first section of the report.  The Chair concurred.

Ms. Bailey thanked the Director and Chair and indicated that on behalf of Senior Staff, she would begin by reviewing sections of the report.  She skipped over very lightly the initial background information, proceeded to review the PARC report and then went into greater detail on some of the alternatives Senior Staff examined.

When Ms. Bailey concluded her review, Trustee Jackson questioned whether or not the demolition costs were still pending, stating that this is something the Board normally does not do.
R. Richard indicated that was correct.

Trustee Jackson questioned what reserve funds would be used.  R. Richard indicated that as presented at the recent Audit Committee meeting, the Board has several reserve funds such as the Capital Reserve from the Sale of Properties and the WSIB Reserve. This therefore allows the Board some flexibility in this regard, however he noted that all this would need to be looked at down the road, when more concrete information is available.  

The Director thanked Ms. Bailey for her thorough review of this report.  She stated that there is a great deal of information to absorb here.  The Director indicated that the inclusion of Land O’ Lakes is the main difference between the preferred PARC recommendation and the recommendation of Senior Staff.  She advised that Senior Staff had engaged in lengthy discussions over the options during numerous meetings, as did the PARC.  There are several reasons why Senior Staff came to a consensus to propose the inclusion of Land O’ Lakes in the new school. She said that she will share these reasons with the Trustees briefly, but recognizes that this will be a key topic for further discussion and input from the affected communities. She indicated Senior Staff respects that process and of course any and all final recommendations of the Board.  It is not out of disrespect for the views of the PARC members and parents and students of Land ‘O Lakes, or those from any other of the northern schools that Senior Staff  chose to recommend the inclusion of Land ‘O Lakes in the new school proposal.

Director Hunter indicated that Senior Staff believe that there will be more and better program opportunities in one composite school for all of the 136 to 150 Land O’ Lakes students if they attend a larger K-12 composite school. There will be a greater number of teachers and support staff, with more flexibility for suitable student placements in classrooms, more extra-curricular opportunities, more opportunity for teachers sharing more expertise in all of the regular classrooms, and opportunities for Land O’ Lakes students to participate in more special programs such as special education classes, Choices at Seven programs or early or late French Immersion.  She indicated that Senior Staff believe that they have a responsibility to recommend the model they think will provide the greatest number of students from this area with the program opportunities that are the most equitable with their southern counterparts. She indicated they know that the ride times from Clarendon Central are simply too far for younger children.  And while they know that Land O’ Lakes students could participate in some of these programs by choosing to attend the special programs in the bigger school anyway, this would only exacerbate loss of enrolment of Land O’ Lakes, reducing enrolment and local opportunities even more.

The Director said that Senior Staff also believe there would be significant advantages to the students of Land O’ Lakes through greater and more varied opportunities for social development and interactions with a greater pool of peers and staff.  A total student population of between 136 and 150 students does not provide as many social opportunities as a larger student and staff population could provide.

Also, she said, the Senior Staff believe that the students of Land O’ Lakes also deserve a beautiful, new and well-resourced learning environment in which to learn and grow.  And they believe there is likely advantage to the students and their families and their community for one central education centre that plays a focal role in the life of the community and indeed binds the communities into one, such as happens at NAEC.
The Director pointed out that all ride times to and from Land O’ Lakes are within the 60 minute radius, and all but 25 are under 50 minutes.  Manager Wowk’s team is committed to provide further reviews based on future addresses, and to explore the idea of additional express buses as needed.  She stated they know this is important, and Trustees should keep in mind the MOE does fund those costs back to the Board.

The Director indicated that there are some financial differences between the two models for the Board to consider also.  The actual one-time construction costs of the two models are not that different, the inclusion of Land O’ Lakes students being less expensive by $93,000.  However, by including that school in the model, the Board would also eliminate the 3.7 million dollars in ReCAPP costs that would be necessary to bring Land O’ Lakes up to current standards, and to generate an annual $150,000 savings in operating costs through staffing and resources.  Although these costs should not be the only driver of decision making, staff would have been irresponsible not to have included a cost analysis in their discussion, as over time the differences in cost of the two models is not insignificant.

The Director stated that accordingly, the Senior Staff made the recommendations presented before the Trustees.  She indicated that if there were questions from the Board for clarification, the Director and staff would respond, before a motion is requested to receive the report; and for the public to please understand that a motion to receive the report is only that.  The Director stated that discussion and deliberation will occur at a later public meeting, following public consultation as she had mentioned earlier. The motion does not represent agreement with the content of the report.

The Director read the recommendations as follows:

“The Senior Staff deliberation concerning the recommendation to the Limestone District School Board regarding the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools accommodation review has been lengthy, and involved the collective thoughtful consideration of many staff members.  In a perfect world, there would be sufficient funding available to maintain all of Ontario’s rural schools.  However, inadequate school sites, aging buildings which are cost prohibitive to repair, small rural student populations in geographically disparate areas, current government regulations and standards, as well as limited financial resources render this option unrealistic.  Accordingly, Senior Staff must be cognizant of what is in the best long term interest of all the Limestone District School Board’s students.  This requires us to maintain our focus on how to best provide that which is most important:  safe, sustainable learning environments and high quality experiences for our children, now and in the future, while remaining pragmatic in balancing fiscal responsibility and community interests.  In the situation at hand, although Senior Staff certainly understand and appreciate the PARC’s decision to bring forward their preferred resolution, we believe that it is in the best interest of the present and future students in the area to include as many of them as possible in the new school.  Senior Staff however recognizes that the extensive distance between the areas where the Clarendon Central Public School students live and Sharbot Lake prevents the inclusion of these students in the new learning environment.

Subject to appropriate financing being assembled, the preferred option of Senior Staff is:      

The Limestone District School Board build a new Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 school on the Sharbot Lake High School site and close Hinchinbrooke, Land O’Lakes, and Sharbot Lake Public Schools, Sharbot Lake Intermediate School and Sharbot Lake High School.

That the Board continue to operate and maintain Clarendon Central Public School.

Some of the reasons in support of this recommendation are outlined below.

  •         The area needs and deserves a new educational facility that will allow the students
of this northern area of the Board to receive an education that is equitable in opportunity to their counterparts in the other regions of the Board.

  •                 Grouping more of the students together for programming has the potential to enrich
the program offerings, expand the social and environmental culture to which the students are exposed, as well as improve the resources available to the students and teachers.  With more students, staff and parents the extracurricular offerings can be more extensive and diverse.

  •                         The significant distance that the Clarendon Central P.S. students live from Sharbot
Lake precluded Senior Staff from including those students in the new school.

  •         As has been noted earlier in this report, the secondary areas of the new facility are the most costly in the project, however the Board is committed to continue to offer a range of programs to accommodate students headed to the world of work, college or university.
•       The schools in the area are presently community centres and with the closing of several schools, the new facility will be critical to the life of the community. Although it is not strictly the responsibility of the Board to build a school that will meet the community’s need for a gathering centre neither can the Board ignore the invaluable function that the school plays in this area.

The Senior Staff also recommends:

That the Limestone District School Board investigate the possibility of engaging the Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic School Board, the Municipalities of Central and North Frontenac and community agencies in the sharing of space and cost in the building of a new school.  Partnerships with agencies offering daycare programs and youth activities as well as the North Frontenac Little Theatre would be most beneficial to the students and the community;

That the Limestone District School Board consider the new school as a possible site for a
Choices at Seven program or the extended French program;

That the Limestone District School Board promote the E-learning possibilities to ensure that
the secondary students can remain in the area and still receive the credit options needed
for their future destinations.

That the Limestone District School Board embrace the opportunity to build a unique new school, which has significance, as it respects and reflects the characteristics of the school communities served;

That the design of the Primary wing of the new school reflect as much as possible the Board’s commitment to implementing the recommendations in the Pascal report on the early year, With Our Best Future in Mind, as related to the provision of appropriate environments and seamless transitions for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten aged children;

That the existing playground equipment be removed and installed on the new school site, as appropriate;

That in the planning and development process for the new school the LDSB incorporate long-term strategies that are respectful and inclusive of the community cultures and traditions of the existing school communities;

That in the planning and development process for the new school the LDSB and Tri-Board Transportation Services review the current bus routes with a view to reorganizing them in a way that would minimize student transportation times, with the goal being less than 60 minutes transportation time for every student;

That in the planning and development process for the new school the LDSB consider the extent to which “green” or environmentally friendly initiatives can be included both in the design of the school buildings/alterations and in the creation of eco-friendly school yards;

That the landscaping and architectural design process incorporate items that are engaging and valuable to each school, such as memorial trees and gardens and playground structures;

That in the planning and development process for the new school there be a clearly planned and communicated strategy for the transfer of students, staff and resources at all levels;

That in the planning and development process, the LDSB unite the former school communities under one name.

The Senior Staff recognizes that the cost of building a new school in Sharbot Lake significantly
exceeds the current Ministry of Education funding model and that a suitable plan for financing
the project will need to be found.  We recommend:

That the Limestone District School Board formally approach the Ministry of Education to
outline our issues and concerns related to the financing of a new school in Sharbot Lake;

That the Limestone District School Board examine the financing of the project through reserve funds and/or the long term commitment of funds from other budgets such as School Renewal.  (For example the plan could include taking $1,000,000 from reserve funds and committing $200,000 from the School Renewal budget each year for a period of ten years).

The Senior Staff, Managers and Support Staff remain committed to following through with this
project, as the Board directs, to achieve a positive result that will provide the students with the
educational opportunities to meet their needs.

The Director finished reading the recommendations from the report.  She noted to Trustees that the following two pages of the report (pages 18 and 19) summarized the Senior Staff recommendations.  She asked Trustees if there were any questions with respect to clarification of the report.

Trustee Jackson indicated that while the process is in the preliminary stages, he questioned whether or not discussions had occurred with municipalities.  It was noted that no formal discussion had occurred, however the Director indicated she had informal discussions with the Algonquin Board and formal notification would need to occur.   

Trustee Jackson questioned whether or not criteria for architectural selection had been considered with the challenges of this unique site.  It was indicated that Senior Staff have not discussed architectural selection.  For clarification, in terms of funding, Trustee Jackson asked about the implications of taking money from the reserve funds.  The Chair reminded Trustee Jackson that questions for Senior Staff were to be limited to clarification of the report only.   As there were no further questions, a motion was moved to receive the report.

MOVED BY Trustee Beavis, seconded by Trustee McLaren, that the report to the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee from the Director with respect to the Senior Staff Report regarding School Accommodations for the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools - Clarendon Central P.S., Hinchinbrooke P.S., Land O’Lakes P.S., Sharbot Lake P.S., Sharbot Lake Intermediate School, and Sharbot Lake High School, be received.-Carried.  

It was agreed that the Public Meeting regarding the report would be held on Tuesday, March 2nd and likely located in the high school, as it is relatively bigger.  R. Richard advised that the advertising notices, newsletters, etc., would be sent out as per usual.  
Trustee Goodfellow thanked the Senior Staff for this very thoughtful and caring report, stating that it gives Trustees a great deal of information to consider.  She indicated that it is a difficult process for the entire community.  The Chair reiterated the same message and also thanked Senior Staff for their hard work on this report and indicated her appreciation of Senior Staff’s careful deliberation.  She thanked the PARC for their work and the guests for traveling to attend the meeting.  Minutes of the meeting will go forward to the February 10th Board Meeting and the reprint will be available on the website.    


        MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, seconded by Trustee Goodfellow, that the meeting adjourn at ~7:15 p.m.–Carried