School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee
March 2, 2010
A meeting of the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole board was held on Tuesday, March 2, 2010, at Sharbot Lake High School, 14432 Road 38, Sharbot Lake, ON, at 7:00 p.m.
H. Chadwick, Chair
G. Beavis, Vice-Chair
Marg Akey, Supervising Principal
Ruth Bailey, Accommodation Review Facilitator
Jane Douglas, Communications Officer
Barb Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
Richard Holmes, Supervising Principal
Brenda Hunter, Director of Education
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
Roger Richard, Superintendent
of Business Services
Wayne Toms, Manager, ITS
Beth Woodley, Supervising Principal and Executive Assistant
Chair Chadwick called the meeting to order, welcoming those in attendance to this evenings School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board meeting. She thanked those members of the public who were in attendance at the meeting for coming to the meeting, stating that it was wonderful to see so many people present who are committed to education.
Chair Chadwick stated that the purpose of this public meeting is to receive input from the public concerning the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools Program and Accommodation Review Committee Report, as well as Senior Staffs Report. She said that the nine Trustees, who are the decision makers, are here this evening to hear from the public.
Trustees introduced themselves.
Chair Chadwick stated that the role of the Trustees this evening is to listen to the publics input. She advised that Trustees have received the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools 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 Chadwick indicated that the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC Report and the Senior Staff Report have been posted on the Boards web site for some time.
Chair Chadwick remarked that that the input provided this evening is as important as the input from the PARC meetings and the Senior Staff report. All of the materials and comments will be considered carefully by the nine Trustees in their decision making.
Chair Chadwick stated that this evening is the publics 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, the Accommodation Review Facilitator will
consult the appropriate people.
Chair Chadwick reported that also present this evening 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 Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC were also in attendance in the audience. She advised that the Boards Recording Secretary, Darlene Kirkpatrick, will be taking the minutes of the meeting, including each speakers comments.
Chair Chadwick stated that in the agenda package that was handed out this evening, are:
- The agenda for this meeting;
- A copy of the protocol for receiving input tonight, which she said that she will review later in the meeting;
- An outline of the presentation on the accommodation review process; and
- A copy of the recommendations from both the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC Report and the Senior Staff Report.
She also noted that a copy of the body of the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC Report and the Senior Staff Report were available on the table at the back 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 Crawford, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.Carried
Overview of Sharbot Lake Family of Schools Accommodation Review Process
Superintendent Richard provided an overview of the review process for the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools area, as follows:
- In March 2008 the Limestone District School Board approved the formation of the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC with the mandate to review program and accommodation issues and to make recommendations to the Director of Education for the Clarendon Central PS, Hinchinbrooke PS, Land OLakes PS, Sharbot Lake PS, Sharbot Lake IS, and Sharbot Lake High School group of schools.
- On June 12, 2009, the Ministry of Education gave the Board initial planning approval of $12,883,325 to address facility condition for students in the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools for 689 new pupil places.
- The Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC held 15 public working meetings between November 13, 2008 and August 11, 2009.
- The Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC held four public meetings to present information, respond to questions and receive input from the public.
- The Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC initially considered 14 potential options for the schools in the review.
- The PARC report was finalized by the Committee at their working meeting on August 11, 2009 and the final report was presented to the Director of Education on Tuesday, September 1, 2009.
- Senior Staff reviewed the PARC report and made an initial report to the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee (SE/SCC) on Monday, January 25, 2010.
Superintendent Richard stated that the Board/SE/SCC are required to hold a meeting for public input no sooner than 30 days after Senior Staffs 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 Staffs report and the matters that are addressed in it and in the PARC report. The public meeting has to be scheduled at one of the affected schools.
Superintendent Richard stated that following this evenings public meeting, Senior Staff will deliver a follow-up report taking into consideration the comments made this evening. He said that meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 2010. He indicated that potentially a Board decision regarding the PARC could be made at the June 9, 2010 Board meeting. He said that if extra time is needed those tentative dates will be changed. He said that a School Integration Committee will be created closer to the date of the opening of a new school. Superintendent Richard said that the time lines are outlined in Board Policy 15 (School Accommodation).
Chair Chadwick asked if there were any questions related to the accommodation review process.
A person in the audience asked if the Senior Staff follow-up report would be public in April. Chair Chadwick indicated that it would be, and she also indicated that all of the Board meetings are open to the public to attend as observers. She said that if more meetings are required, a decision may not be made at the June Board meeting.
Scheduled Formal Presentations
David Daski, Land O'Lakes Public School
Mr. Daski read the following statement:
My name is David Daski. We have two children attending Land O'Lakes Public School in Mountain Grove, one in Kindergarten and other in Grade 2. We moved to the Arden area six years ago. It would have been a problem for us if a school had not been close by; we may not have moved to the area.
Fortunately there was Land O'Lakes Public School in Mountain Grove. The school was perfect. It was a nice school in good condition, nestled in a forested valley. It was not too big. It was small enough that you can get to know the teachers. It has the best kindergarten room anywhere. The school is close to home and close to homes of our childrens friends. I honestly didn’t think it was possible that this school could be closed.
Now we’re told we need a new school and that it will be in another town. We’re expected to put our kids on a bus for 40 minutes more a day to send them to a huge impersonal school in an industrial setting alongside high school kids that think its cool to smoke and take drugs.
We normally have very little reason to go to Sharbot Lake. We’ve always driven our kids to school, and given a choice between driving 25 minutes to Sharbot Lake or 35-40 minutes south, our choice would be and is to head south.
The Senior Staff looked closely at a number of options and their impacts, but has completely failed to look at the option of building the new school in Mountain Grove.
There are 95 students in Sharbot Lake Public School and enrolment has declined precipitously; 30 fewer students in the past five years. Incredibly its suppose to stabilize at 94.
The report states that Land O'Lakes Public School has maintained an enrolment of 151 students and this number is expected to decrease to 136. Again I dont see this. I see a kindergarten stuffed with so many students that many have been put in with the Grade 1s. The current enrolment at 157 students doesn’t seem to be trending downwards at all.
There's a reason Land O'Lakes is maintaining its enrolment. The Central Frontenac Community Profile indicates that in the 20 year period prior to amalgamation Kennebec Township in the far west grew 26.5%. Oso Township around Sharbot Lake grew less than 4%. Central Frontenac Township is five times as wide as Kingston. Why keep two schools in the east when growth is in the western end of the Township?
The report states that a new school cant be built in Mountain Grove because there is a rock cliff immediately behind Land O'Lakes Public School, which doesnt allow for expansion. What I see is a huge flat field nearly half a kilometre long. You could build five schools there. If more space were needed the small hill to the north could easily be flattened. I talked to a local contractor and he said that there would be no problem to flatten the hill.
Land O'Lakes is the jewel of our current schools. Its basically sound and universally accessible. I understand that it is on the list because of the age of its septic system. No thought has been given to the cost savings of not having to tear it down, but instead simply adding to it the larger body of a new school. This could also reduce student disruption during construction.
Mountain Grove is far more central to the Township and its population than is Sharbot Lake. This means shorter bus rides on average, an overall cost savings, and potentially higher enrolment. Sharbot Lake is in the extreme east end of the Township.
I dispute the purported advantages of the site at Sharbot Lake. The services in Sharbot Lake are inferior to those in places such as Verona or Kingston, and the southern and western populations will more often head south than east. Both Sharbot Lake and Mountain Grove have available land and would benefit from the special funding for remote and outlying schools. The
new well and septic systems at Sharbot Lake will most likely have to be reworked in any event, based on larger use.
Sharbot Lake is not central to the population of the Township and it is not the most efficient transportation hub.
In conclusion, I love Land O'Lakes Public School the way it is and ideally would like to see the PARC recommendations adopted. If, however, it is judged necessary to go to one large school, it is clear that both the PARC and staff have not fully considered all options. The cost saving numbers regarding Mountain Grove versus Sharbot Lake should be considered prior to making a final decision. The ideal site for a new larger school may be right where nobody has looked, i.e. in the centre of the Township at Mountain Grove.
Jamie Riddell, Co-Chair of Parent Council, Land OLakes Public School, Life-Long Resident of Central Frontenac, Active Community Member for Over the Past 20 Years
Jamie Riddell read the following statement:
Good evening Trustees, Members of Senior Management Team and Members of the Community,
My name is Jamie Riddell and I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Parent Council at Land O'Lakes Public School. I am also a life-long resident of Central Frontenac and have been an active community member for over the past 20 years with involvement in the local Fire Department, Parent Council and United Church to name a couple. Im here as a concerned parent this evening.
Yes, you the Board have scared us with your recommendation which includes the closing of our school. However, this has made us stronger and has brought voices out to assist us in the defending of this great, small, powerful rural school we have at Land O'Lakes Public School.
Land O'Lakes Public School is the heart beat of our small community in Mountain Grove. Land O'Lakes plays host to a number of special events outside of school hours like wedding receptions, fundraisers for the Fire Department, youth groups, adult game nights and local soccer league, just to name a few. This school is the only facility in the Mountain Grove hub that can house all of the above and is why the Central Frontenac Council has finally stepped behind us in our fight to keep Land O'Lakes Public School open. The Central Frontenac Council, I believe has seen the value and role this school is to our community. They see the advantages to having Land O'Lakes Public School stay open. They see the importance of doing whats right for our children, and as well the importance in attracting
more, younger families to our area. So much that they have started a working group with the Recreation Committee which is looking into land development in the area around the school which the Township owns. This would be home to walking trails, baseball diamond, tennis courts and toboggan hills to name a few, as another step to attract younger families to our community. Younger families mean more children and is why we need to as a group (school, Recreation Committee, Township Council, Church, etc.) to work together to provide opportunities and create growth within this beautiful community.
During this process you made decision on projections. Nothing concrete, just estimates and projections. This does leave a large cloud of uncertainty and leaves the door wide open for a decision that may ultimately look right from a projected point, but in the end when it comes down to actuals, fails to meet the mark. For example, in the financial summary Prince Charles Public School in Verona was added to go against the numbers of the PARC option which puts in question this whole process and questions the integrity of this process. Prince Charles is not a part of this PARC and so, should not have any bearing on any part of this process even if they end up receiving students from the south end of our borders, and thats if they, the administration at Prince Charles Public School accepts these
We cant ignore the transportation issue. In the Senior Staff report it was noted about the excessive ride times for Clarendon Central to come to Sharbot Lake High School. However, no mention of the increase travel times with our students from Land O'Lakes Public School. What about the $100,000 plus per year in transportation cost savings if you were to leave Land O'Lakes Public School open versus shipping to the new school? What about the safety of our children now riding longer on Hwy. 7?
Tonight, however, is not to point fingers; tonight is for us as a community to stand up and show you the Trustees and Senior Staff why Land O'Lakes Public School, Clarendon Central Public School and Hinchinbrooke Public School should be spared, as it would be a major loss not only to the community, but to our children who stand so much to lose if this closure proceeds. With no guarantee on programming, combining these schools into one could create less teacher/student one-on-one time, less social time/sport opportunities, but more opportunity for individual isolation/failures, more opportunity for bullying and behavioural issues. Is that what we want? Or do we want to maintain a positive environment both learning and social development? If so, then it is my belief that we need to limit the size of
both the buildings and the size of the classes. Bigger is not better! We all realize that both schools in Sharbot Lake are in need of major help, but why sacrifice something that holds so much good, so much growth potential, so much strength to the education of our children and provides the same strength in the strong foundation of our community as Land O'Lakes does.
In closing all I can say is today is a sad day in education. Its sad that we have to close schools in areas to support one school, its sad that we are left to not only defend our schools but in the end we are left to beg for your mercy and for you to see it in our eyes that one school in Central Frontenac is not the way, not for our community, not for you the Board and most important, not for our children!
Janet Gutowski, Mayor, Central Frontenac
Mayor Gutowski read the following statement:
Good Evening Trustees:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening.
As Mayor of Central Frontenac I am here to speak on behalf of our council and our citizens. I am here to speak to a decision which will impact the future of our community today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. In fact the significance of this one decision is likely to define many aspects of this communitys future. It is therefore imperative to ensure that the communitys input be given serious consideration.
The Township of Central Frontenac values all schools within the municipality. A quick poll of our citizens would probably reveal that the majority of them would like to see all schools maintained. Given however that we agree that schools should offer accessibility, and that we should strive to provide all students with as many opportunities as is reasonably possible and given that the projected costs of rehabilitation for Hinchinbrooke, Sharbot Lake Public School, and Sharbot Lake High School are cost prohibitive, Central Frontenac Council is prepared to change our original position and support the recommendation of the PARC committee as outlined in section 26 of the Administrative Report dated January 26, 2010.
We believe that the final recommendations of the PARC committee, a committee whose composition was well thought out and a committee that was duly appointed and charged with the task of making recommendations to the board on the matter of the future of our schools should be supported by the Trustees of the Limestone District School Board.
That is to say: Central Frontenac Council supports the PARC position: That the Limestone District School Board close Sharbot Lake PS, Hinchinbrooke PS, Sharbot Lake IS/HS and relocate the students, as appropriate for busing purposes, to Prince Charles PS, Land OLakes PS and a new K-12 school on the Sharbot Lake IS/HS site or another appropriate site. Maintain Land OLakes PS and Clarendon Central PS. The K-12 building should be designed to separate the elementary students from the secondary students.
We also fully support the additional recommendations 1 through 4.
Clearly we are taking issue with the recommendation of staff to close Land OLakes PS and bus all the children from the entire township to a single K-12 school located in Sharbot Lake. We ask that the Board reject this position.
There are several reasons why we are taking this position. Some of them have already been outlined in a letter dated February 25, 2010 which was sent to Board along with the resolution of Council. Having had time to further personally review the administrative report and conduct some research I feel there are several additional reasons why the report should be rejected. The balance of my presentation is to speak to them.
Rural residents know and understand rural realities. We make conscious choices that will sometimes confound and confuse a person with an urban mindset. We live in a world that does not have a Timmies on every corner. We eat vegetables from our own gardens and we still give and/or trade goods like cords of wood and eggs with our neighbours. It is also not unusual to serve a dinner entree that was not purchased at the supermarket. These are some of the things that differentiate rural areas from the urban experience.
It is my belief that the administrative report has reviewed the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools with an urban lens. It is my intention to expose some of the weaknesses in the report.
Student population and travel
Statistics Canada population projections available on the internet indicate that the population of Frontenac is likely to remain stable and/or grow slightly between 2008 and 2036. I am pleased to see that stability of the Land OLakes Public School is acknowledged by the Board because as we are aware this stability is a key consideration for school location going forward. Given that we have enough students we should be aware that going forward a number of our students will be younger. This is because the province has recently made a strong commitment to early learning (www.edu.gov.on/earlylearning/what.html) that means more 4-5 year olds travelling by bus.
I am certain that I am not the only one of the opinion that it will be detrimental to the well-being of young children in areas of the township to have to travel all the way to Sharbot Lake to attend school when there is a suitable school available in Mountain Grove, which happens to be in the geographic centre of the township. Given that staff has outlined the cost of busing using only the 2009/2010 formulas and that we must consider the inevitability that transportation costs will continue to rise, I feel that the costs of future transportation have not been accurately taken into account. The policy to transport students longer distances and times than is necessary adds to cost and contributes more greatly to greenhouse gases; therefore, it does not reflect a sustainable approach toward the
Assessment of current building: as referenced on page 3, #6. The current building is accessible. Therefore, there is no immediate need for renovation to address this issue. It has also been acknowledged that the population is stable. Therefore, the comments There is a steep rock cliff directly behind the school, which makes additional building on this property very difficult should not be of great concern to the Board. Something that has not been included in the report is that the township owns a significant piece of property located directly adjacent to the school to the west and south. This property is occupied by the building which was the former school. It currently houses a small branch of the KFL&A Public Library. However, a significant portion of the building is currently
underutilized as the township has built a new fire hall just east of Land OLakes Public School. With the completion of a new addition to the township office close at hand it would be appropriate for council to have staff provide an assessment and a report on the library building and once the township has had an opportunity to assess the building it is likely that township would be open to conversation with the Limestone Board if the Board in fact requires additional space for the school.
Additional physical considerations: the school is adjacent to an outdoor rink, District 2 Fire & Rescue Station, has close proximity to a major trail, and it offers a quiet setting close to natural areas.
N.B. If the staff is interested in green initiatives have they given consideration to the possibility of participating in the F.I.T. program which could generate revenue for a period of 20 years?
The staff report to the Board suggests that bringing schools all together to Sharbot Lake will enhance social opportunities. Seems to me that the old adage bigger is better is at work here. This is a view that is not supported by some very credible sources. The fact is that small schools especially for young students offer added security and individualized attention.
The Pascal Report stated that:
Our best future is one where all our children are:
- healthy and secure;
- emotionally and socially competent;
- eager, confident, and successful learners;
- respectful of the diversity of their peers.
The Ontario Rural Plan released in 2004 aims to cap class sizes at 20 for JK to Grade 3. It does not speak to say that an increased volume of students increases social value. In a rural area where people are accustomed to and have chosen to live where people are fewer in numbers, what evidence does staff have to support the claim that increasing numbers will increase the quality of the school experience. If all students are required to travel to one school in Sharbot Lake it will also increase the incidents of 4 year olds travelling on buses with grade 12 students. If it is clear that younger students should be separated from older students during the hours they spend at school why would we want to see more of them spend from 45 to 90 minutes a day travelling on the bus together?
I also believe that schools should not and do not and do not be considered as the sole source of social interaction for rural students. I offer the Trustees a graph which I found on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs website. It indicates that residents of rural and small town areas are more likely to know all or most of their neighbours. Based on this information should it not be acknowledged that families interact within their neighbourhoods and many rural residents share a belief that children are part of and benefit from these social interactions. It is one of those things that differentiate us from the urban experience.
There is clearly a desire for small and secure schools in the rural areas. These are conditions that are reflective of the other institutions in our communities such as the churches and community centres. Why would we want to have our schools reflect a different reality? In rural areas parents are often quite happy when the elementary school is not located in close proximity to a corner store, or fast food. Speaking as a member of the KFL&A Public Health Board rural school settings offer some definite advantages over urban settings when it comes to healthy choices.
The Pascal Report also reflects on the value of partnerships with municipalities and community agencies to provide activities for students. I was deeply saddened to find that throughout the administrative report to staff that there were only two sentences devoted to the value of the school to the community. I quote 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 communitys need for a gathering centre, neither can the Boar ignore the invaluable function that the school plays in this area.
Not only is the report extremely inadequate in dedicating so little information to this subject, it speaks nothing of the value of the community to the school. Land OLakes Public School has a very special relationship with the community. The District 2 Recreation Committee has supported Land OLakes Public School students for years providing students with activities such as Family Games nights, putting on fundraisers, even ensuring each child in the school receives a gift at Christmas. The children of Land OLakes Public School also receive special attention and education from the volunteers of District 1 and District 2 Fire and Rescue. It is this kind of first hand exposure to volunteerism that has kept our small communities strong and allows our citizens to enjoy a quality of life which is highly
Staff mention briefly in the report that there are no municipal services for water or sewer in the township but I note there is no additional information provided to the Board on this subject. Given that any and all buildings within Central Frontenac including schools must be serviced by on site well and septic systems and that the health and safety of students and the surrounding community are dependent on a safe and dependable water source I feel it is important for the Board to have additional information of that subject before any final recommendations are made.
For this reason and others such as consideration of energy use, and parking requirements and impact on the natural environment I would think that the Board might be wise to give preference to building a slightly smaller school in Sharbot Lake than what the administrative report has proposed. This too would be more compatible to the goals of the community and may provide greater opportunities for site selection and/or flexibility of building design. It has been noted in the report that the current school at Sharbot Lake has a close relationship with the North Frontenac Little Theatre. Given that it is likely that both parties would likely want to explore continuing that relationship and that additional partnership opportunities may evolve, building a school to accommodate the number of students proposed by the
staff report may compromise these opportunities. Any and all proposals for large development within the township are usually subject to the scrutiny of the authority of the conservation areas and I am wondering if there has been any preliminary dialogue with those authorities?
The staff has presented the Board with the financial details of several options. In all scenarios the funding comes up short to build a new school and there will be a need to approach the province for help. For this reason the proposed demolition costs of the existing Sharbot Lake High School really stand out and I think we should try to avoid this scenario. There are several not-for-profit groups in the Sharbot Lake area who may be interested in space that might become available if the existing building becomes available. Although I cannot speak on behalf of any specific group, it is well known that some of our not-for-profits are in buildings which were not designed for office space. Narrow stairways and doors, old wiring and poor insulation are taking a toll on staff and board budgets. In many circumstances grants are low interest loans can be accessed whereas capital for new building is not available. The Municipality of Central Frontenac and Frontenac County are open to
conversation on how this building could be revitalized. The Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation has also cited that lack of available commercial infrastructure has resulted in many businesses relocating outside of the Frontenacs. If we are to move our community forward, jobs and the opportunities to explore partnerships with potential partners such as St. Lawrence and Algonquin Colleges are an important part of what needs to happen. Therefore, I feel the demolition of the existing building should if at all possible be avoided.
To conclude my remarks, I would also like to assure the Board that the Council of the Township of Central Frontenac greatly appreciates the great interest and efforts that have been demonstrated by the members of the PARC and the members of the Limestone District School Board on this matter. We realize that reaching a decision on this matter will not be easy.
On behalf of Council, I ask that when the Board makes its final decision with respect to the future of the education of our children that they consider the matter holistically and not in isolation of other aspects of life in the community. The directions for our future should be guided by examining the social, cultural, environmental and economic impact that your decisions will make on the long term well being of our community. If any member of the Board or staff wishes to speak further on this matter we would be happy to make ourselves available.
Thank you for listening.
The Chair asked Mayor Gutowski what the Township of Central Frontenac supported by way of the Council resolution, i.e. What is the wording of their resolution?".
Mayor Gutowski indicated that she did not remember the exact wording, but the Council of Central Frontenac did support the final recommendations of the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC. She indicated that she would forward a copy of the resolution to the Board.
Christine Teal, Mother of Children who Attend Hinchinbrooke Public School
Christine Teal read the following statement:
My name is Christine Teal. I live in the village of Tichborne. I am the mother of two children, both who currently attend Hinchinbrooke Public School.
I have a question to ask and that is Why are we building this school? From what Ive heard its because the existing schools are either run down to the point where it would be too expensive to fix them up and/or they are not running at full capacity, except for Land OLakes Public School, which needed little in repairs and the capacity met the school board standards. Now I come to find out it is closing. As I read the article I tried to find a reason why it was being closed. Then it dawned on me that the school board would receive more money from the government if they had more students attending the new school and the only way to get more students would be to close Land OLakes Public School.
At the last meeting I was able to attend I heard from the representatives of the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools PARC that the new school should be built in Sharbot Lake because there are gas stations, there is a drug store, grocery stores, law offices, real estate offices, a medical centre and many other local businesses.
Im not sure about other parents but I dont send my kids to school to do my grocery shopping, and if they need to go to the medical centre, as a concerned parent, I will be going with them. Plain and simply, I sent them to school to get an education and to get the best education possible. It was also mentioned that a good reason for building in Sharbot lake was some of the students will have job placements at the various businesses. Thats fine and dandy, but thats only two grades. What about the other 12 grades? What about Junior Kindergarten to Grade 10? These kids need something as well, and that something is room to run, play, do various sports activities and be involved in a wide variety of programs.
Im not saying that Sharbot Lake High School is not a great school, because it is and there have been a lot of great people who have graduated from this school; I know because I am one of them and there are lots in the room.
What I am saying is that I dont feel Sharbot Lake is the best location for the new K-12 school! To build the new school here and to make the necessary room needed for all these students, it will require a lot of drilling, and blasting which is very expensive and would eat up a lot of money needed to build this school. There would also be filling in of any precious wetlands on this property that we cannot afford to lose at any cost!
When this new school is built this one will be torn down. To me this is a waste of a great building. It has a lot of potential to become something else in the Town of Sharbot Lake. It could become a recreation centre for sports and other activities or a great business opportunity for the right person. In selling this building the school board could then cover the costs of any land they bought at another suitable location. Of all the schools closing, this building would create the most revenue for the school board. Much more than Hinchinbrooke. Sharbot Lake High School is wheelchair accessible; it has an elevator, two large rooms, one being a gymnasium and the other being an auditorium. It has plenty of classrooms that could remain classrooms to teach people everything from
knitting to ceramics to karate.
If you look at the Hinchinbrooke site there is land available to build this new school. Land that is flat and requires no drilling, no blasting and no filling in of wetlands and would be more cost effective. One of the pieces of land that is available for purchase is an abandoned sand pit. The government is offering grant money to do something with these sand pits lets cash in on this for the benefit of our future.
This money could go towards building the new school. Next to the Hinchinbrooke site is a ball diamond and athletic track. This ball diamond is the only one in Central Frontenac that is a regulation ball field that meets minor softball regulations. The students would not have to cross roads or highways to get to it as it abuts the Hinchinbrooke site.
The land northwest of the Hinchinbrooke site which also abuts the ball field and also joins up to the land where the sand pit is located, has also been offered to the school board to build the new school on. There is also land on the south side of the Hinchinbrooke site that is available to the school board. With these three parcels of land and the existing Hinchinbrooke site the school board would have more than enough land to build the new school and plenty of room for the kids to run, play and also room to house various sports programs.
Most people seem to be looking at just the high school students and whats best for them, and are forgetting about the elementary school students. These kids need room to run around, have fun with their friends and play games. This is another reason why the Sharbot Lake site is not suitable because of its rocky an hilly terrain. With having more than 600 students attending the new school you will need plenty of room both inside and out. You should have a site where the teachers on yard duty wont have to go climbing these hills looking to find students that have become curious with whats on the other side.
If the land at Hinchinbrooke was used for the new site and the available land were purchased, this would give you two entrances to the school from two separate roads. One for buses only and one for vehicle traffic. Making it much safer for kids attending the school when loading and off loading at bus time.
The Hinchinbrooke site is located in the village of Parham. This village, as small as it may seem, is unique that it has four roads leading into it (38 north, 38 south, Wagarville Road and Long Lake Road). I feel that by using these four roads it would make bus travel times much faster and would create less congestion on the major roads. If built at the Hinchinbrooke site you have the opportunity of drawing students from the south, which would increase enrolment, which means more money and would increase our chances of getting more programs, and in todays world we need to offer as much to our students as possible. For they are our future leaders and developers.
I feel that speaking here tonight will only fall on deaf ears and that the decision has already been made to build the new school in Sharbot Lake. I say this because no one has checked into what the land at the Hinchinbrooke site looks like or how much it would cost to purchase the adjoining properties. But I do know that if built in Sharbot Lake a lot of students will be lost to other schools in the area and that means the parting of a lot of friendships as well as funding.
Let us all remember that when making this decision we need to make the right choice for the location of this new school as it will be there for many years to come and over that time this school will host generations of students both young and old. This is our chance to make the future lets not restrict our choices and create limitations for tomorrow. Lets work together and build a mega school that we are proud to have and know that we did it for the right reasons.
I have one final question to ask. Who are we building this school for, our kids or ourselves?
Chair Chadwick reviewed the Protocol for Receiving Input at Public Meetings, as listed below. She said that the protocol is designed to ensure that as each speaker has the opportunity to provide input to the SE/SCC in an environment that is respectful of all opinions.
1. Persons wishing to speak should move to the microphone and the SE/SCC Chair will recognize each speaker consecutively.
2. Each speaker shall identify him or herself; any relevant title; the school community in which he/she 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 Boards 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 Boards 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.
Chair Chadwick said that written submissions may be forwarded to Mrs. Bailey at the Limestone District School Board, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Postal Bag 610, Kingston, ON, K7L 4X4, or by fax at 613-544-6804, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Input from the Public
Norman Guntensperger advised that he has taught at Land OLakes Public School for the past several years, and that his daughter attends Land OLakes Public School. He commented that Trustees have been put in a difficult position by the province. He remarked that he is very biased about Land OLakes, and proud of his community there. He stated that he has submitted comments to the PARC in July. Mr. Guntensperger said that Land OLakes is a gem of a school. He referred to the film Slaughter House-Five and compared its absurdity to the absurdity of destroying Land OLakes as it has value and beauty for the students in the community. He said that he loves Land OLakes Public School and he hopes it is not destroyed. He commented that it has the best Kindergarten classroom in the
province, as well as gymnasium. He further commented on the opportunities for students at the school because of its small size, such as having lead roles in musical productions, and participating on intercollegiate teams.
Mr. Guntensperger remarked that the Council tax base in the west will go downhill. He said that Central Frontenac owns the 17 plus acres surrounding the school, and the Mayor is willing to listen.
Mr. Guntensperger stated that there isnt a sand pit there, but a sand hill. He said that the Land OLakes site is the perfect area on which to build a new school. He said that he believes the Board could squeeze the province for money as there is an election coming up.
Logan Murray stated that he is the parent of children who have gone to Land OLakes and now attend Sharbot Lake High School. He advised that he lives in the extreme western area of the township, and that the bus ride is one hour, twenty minutes from his home to Sharbot Lake High School. He indicated that the growth is on that end of the township, and it would destroy that community if the school was removed. He asked Trustees to think outside the box. He commented on the Board, municipality and province coming together to ensure that the building would be a multi-use building in order to decrease costs.
Mr. Murray said that the report stresses that the new building is being built to support primary children and high school students. He said that all of the things people have said about the importance of the development of children will be lost in a bigger school. He said that if Trustees care about education they have to maintain small schools. He commented on after-school programs being destroyed if people have to drive to the far end of the Township to pick up their children. Mr. Murray commented that the transportation costs are out of whack, saying that the costs will double over the next ten years. He said that building a bigger school on the Sharbot Lake High School property is not the right thing to do.
Amber Asselstine, a student at Sharbot Lake Public School gave reasons as why the students need to keep their school. She said that there are teenagers at the high school who smoke, swear and drink, noting that would be a bad influence on younger children. She said that if she needs help in Math, it is provided to her, but she wont get it in a bigger school. She asked why her school should be torn down, stating that maybe it is old, but so what, our school rocks.
Marie Roberts indicated that she is a parent of a student who attended a school in the Kawartha-Pineridge DSB and that transportation was provided for her daughter, noting that her daughter had to travel on a bus for about one hour, twenty minutes to one hour, thirty minutes each way to attend a French program. She remarked that since moving to the area, she has tried to enrol her daughter in a French Immersion program in Kingston, noting that she drives through Kingston, but that the schools will not take anyone outside of his/her district. She said that since attending Land OLakes Public School, her daughter has blossomed. She stated that if the school closes, she will move to a smaller community. Mrs. Roberts stated that she would support a bigger school if there were more programs
to meet the needs of children, with busing provided for shorter distances.
Victor Hayes indicated that his daughter attends Land OLakes Public School, noting that he and his family moved to the area from Japan in August 2009. He indicated that he had sent e-mails to the secretary at Land OLakes eight months before arriving to the area, to ask what he needed to do to register his daughter. He indicated that after initially communicating with the secretary, during the rest of the eight months, he had no communication with the school. He said that when he arrived here he contacted the school and the secretary said to him You are here. He said that would not have happened in a bigger school. Mr. Hayes said that when his family arrived here his daughter did not speak English. He advised that all of her teachers were aware of that fact. He said that his
daughter can now speak English because of the support she has received at the school. He asked if all teachers at a mega school would be aware of his daughters situation. He asked how many teachers would know of students with minor physical or mental disabilities or learning disabilities in a mega school. He didnt think many would, but indicated that all the teachers at Land OLakes would know. Mr. Hayes commented that he has lived in Montreal and outside of Tokyo, but he chose to live here because it is a small community. He said that he wanted to keep our community school.
Barb Matson stated that her children attend Land OLakes Public School, and she has a child who started at Sharbot Lake High School, noting that child is excelling. She said that if Land OLakes Public School is closed, she will send her children to the separate school board. She commented on the language used, smoking and traffic situations at the high school, noting that she would not want her young children exposed to those situations. She asked Trustees to keep the small community schools. She commented that in larger schools, children would have to compete for awards. She said that there are more opportunities for students to excel at smaller schools, and they can be more involved in school plays, clubs, etc. She commented on the dedication of the teachers at Land OLakes, stating
that they know the children and parents by name. Ms. Matson said that she is a family support worker at Community Living, working with children with special needs. She said that children with special needs have more individual attention in small classrooms and they have opportunities to get out and feel secure in the area. Ms. Matson remarked that Land OLakes is important to our community. She commented that her husband had attended Land OLakes when he started school, and her brother-in-law was in the first class of students to attend Land OLakes. She said that she hopes Trustees will make the right decision.
A father of a child in Mr. Gs class at Land OLakes Public School commented on the passion of the community. He said that he grew up in Toronto and his wife was from the area. He said that they moved to the community 7 years ago. He spoke in favour of keeping Land OLakes Public School open. He said that if the school closes, his family will move.
Laura Wood, Land OLakes parent, said that she and her family moved from Kingston to the area 3 years ago. She said that before moving, she looked at a lot of communities around Kingston. She said that she grew up in Niagara Falls. She said that she did not want to bring her children up in a larger city. She commented that she is a volunteer at the school and that she knows most of the children. She said that the enthusiasm of the teachers and students is amazing. She commented on some of the activities that take place during the lunch hour. She said that her children adore the teachers at Land OLakes. She said that her family will be sad if Land OLakes Public School closes, noting that she moved to the community because of the school.
Karen Skuce, a Hinchinbrooke parent, stated that the numbers kept coming to her mind, not just relating to money, but it is dependent on students coming to this school. She commented that she does not know what the school will look like or if there will be money for programs. She said that the people from the area see the programs offered and extracurricular activities in the schools in Sydenham. She said that she does not believe that the Board will get the amount of funding from the government for the new school because all of the children may not go to the new school. She said that there are children from the area attending schools in Sydenham that offer the various programs. She said that she does not know if the schools will end up with the numbers indicated in the report. She
commented that some people will send their children to school in Perth and to the Catholic system where there are French Immersion programs. She said that a lot of the numbers will go down because people are going to shift out of the area.
Cory Thompson indicated that he has three children who attend Land OLakes Public School. He said that he attended a small school and the experience was amazing. He said that ht moved his family to the area. Mr. Thompson commented on the traffic by Sharbot Lake High School, noting that Hwy. 38 is a major highway. He said he does not understand why the Board thinks Sharbot Lake is the perfect spot for the new school. He said that it is a great community, but that Land OLakes is better. He said that if the Board didnt want to build the new school at Land OLakes, it could also consider the Hinchinbrooke site. He indicated that if the new school were built on the Sharbot Lake High School site a lot of people would move. Mr. Thompson said that the Land OLakes Fire
Department is amazing. He commented on the parents knowing each other at Land OLakes. He said that his son is shy, and how Land OLakes has been good for his son. He talked about bullying at large schools. He said that he likes the Land OLakes community.
Cindy French stated that she lives north of Arden, and that she moved to the area 1 years ago, as it was between where two sets of parents live (Ottawa and Toronto). She said that her husband works from a home office and was concerned that if the school closed in Mountain Grove, that the connection to the internet and the infrastructure would be lost. She commented on the sense of community, and how accepting the community is for those students who are different. She said that her daughter has flourished at Land OLakes, and her son is at Sharbot Lake High School. She commented that cohesiveness may be lost in a bigger school. She said that whatever makes you unique is accepted. She said that extra help is also available to her son as the teachers know how to help him. She
said that her daughter joined the chess club on her own, and she attends an extracurricular activity at a ranch, noting that a bus drops her off at the ranch, and she picks her up.
Beth Munroe said that she is unbiased because she does not have children attending schools in the area. She said that she relocated from Oshawa where she worked in special education in a school system. She said that she is now a casual employee of the LDSB. She indicated that perhaps children who ride on buses for long period of time may exhibit behavioural problems, and she hopes that if that is the case then the Board provides extra funding for educational assistants to help those children experiencing behavioural problems. She said that she likes the school in her community. She said that she had attended an orientation session at the LDSB, where it was indicated that the focus of the LDSB is putting students first. She suggested that she believes the Board should refresh their
Terry Kennedy stated that he has been a cottager in Land OLakes, in the original Kennebec Township which is now Central Frontenac, for the past 40 years. He advised that he had relocated here since his retirement. He said that he shares the sentiments of the people who have spoken. He commented that Trustees are facing an extremely difficult task. He further commented that the information received in the Senior Staff Report uses hard data numbers. He said that they are easy to deal with; however, what Trustees are hearing from the public tonight is soft data; you are hearing about the human dimension, which is more difficult to hear. He stated that one thing the numbers are telling you is that you are considering taking a viable situation in Mountain Grove and transplanting it to
create somewhere a large school to be viable for an educational building. He commented that something is being sacrificed to get something at the other end. Mr. Kennedy commented on the Board structuring a PARC and process, with many volunteers on it. He said that he believes the process should be honoured, as well as the commitment from the people who participated in the PARC, and the references made to provide enrichment opportunities in a larger setting. He said that there is a lot of commitment in the local community.
Kathy Toth-Valentini, a resident from the area, advised that she was a former teacher at Sharbot Lake High School and that she also worked for Terry Kennedy in a different Board. She said that she also worked at the North Addington Education Centre. She commented that a K-12 school is not a bad thing, that it could work. A K-12 school can provide positive things for secondary and elementary students. She commented that Sharbot Lake High School services Central Frontenac as well as North Frontenac. She said that she knows of children in North Frontenac who get on a bus at 6 a.m. as it is; to send them to Hinchinbrooke and Land OLakes is impossible. She said that she supports what Terry Kennedy said about the process, and in the terms of special education.
Ann Collis reported that she lives in Kennebec and that she has two daughters, one in Grade 9 and one at Land OLakes. She stated that there are a number of reasons why Land OLakes should operation. She said that the teachers at Land OLakes are a unique group of individuals who pour themselves into their students’ lives and who enrich the students lives. She commented on the fundraising activities at the school. She said that the transportation times for maximum distances are reasonable, and that some children will have to ride longer on the bus if they have to travel to school in Sharbot Lake. Ms. Collis said that Land OLakes is in good repair, and it is wheelchair accessible. She stated that the school is used for community functions. She remarked that without all of the
students at the new school, the Ministry of Education will not provide enough funding for the new school to be built. She said that to close Land OLakes would be a lost to the children.
Chair Chadwick thanked the speakers for their comments this evening, indicating that they have been recorded and will be reviewed.
School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board to Rise and Report
MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, seconded by Trustee McLaren, that the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board rise and report.Carried
MOVED BY Trustee Beavis, seconded by Trustee Crawford, that the meeting adjourn at