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School board holds final accommodation plan workshop at Erin Public School

Discussion groups - Upper Grand District School Board held a public engagement workshop at Erin Public School on Feb. 28 as part of its Long Term Accommodation Plan process.  Photo by Jaime Myslik

School board holds final accommodation plan workshop at Erin Public School

by Jaime Myslik

ERIN - Keeping schools open was the theme of discussion at the Upper Grand District School Board’s (UGDSB) last public engagement workshop for the first phase of its Long-Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP).

Parents, teachers and stakeholders from the Erin and Guelph-Eramosa gathered at Erin Public School on Feb. 28 to participate in small group discussions about the LTAP.

The Erin workshop was one of four public engagement workshops held throughout the UGDSB catchment area.

The other workshops were at Orangeville District Secondary School on Feb. 8, Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph on Feb. 12 and Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus on Feb. 21. The workshop scheduled for Norwell District Secondary School on Feb. 20 was cancelled due to weather.

According to senior planner Heather Imm, more people came out to the Erin engagement workshop than any other, with more than 60 in attendance.

The goal of the public workshops was to share information.

“Our planning staff will be providing information regarding population growth trends, accommodation, enrolment trends, etcetera,” said superintendent of finance Glen Regier at the workshop.

“But it’s also an opportunity for us to hear from our school communities.”

Imm explained the LTAP is a strategic review of the board’s facilities and enrolment.

“We need to do that to ensure that the board’s accommodation needs are accommodating the number of students that it serves and the needs of the communities throughout our full jurisdiction,” she said.

In an interview with the Advertiser, UGDSB planning manager Jennifer Passy explained the board has not undertaken a comprehensive long-term plan since 2007.

“We have done other capital plans to respond to ministry initiatives like full day kindergarten leading up to 2014 when full implementation was required,” Passy explained.

“This was the opportunity to now take a fresh, holistic, board-wide approach to look at what the board’s needs are on a go-forward basis and identify priorities for future processes to address some of the accommodation issues.”

Those issues could include school overutilization (when school enrolment is 110% over capacity), underutilization (when school enrolment is 80% under capacity), imbalances and program needs.

The board has emphasized the LTAP will not include any recommendations about school boundaries or changes to programs or schools.

“It will look at identifying areas or schools that require another process or additional study,” Imm told workshop attendees.

“It could be an accommodation review or it could be a boundary review, an impact study, something like that.”

While the Erin workshop focused exclusively on Guelph-Eramosa and Erin schools, the other three workshops covered the remaining UGDSB schools.

The presentations showed the projected utilization rates of each school for the next five and 10 years based on enrolment projections, which consider current populations and planned residential development.

Enrolment projections for schools in Erin and Guelph-Eramosa (80% to 110% is well-utilized) include:

- Brisbane Public School: 90% in 2017, 94% in five years and 101% in 10 years (if housing development starts in five years those numbers change to 90%, 95% and 107% respectively);

- Eramosa Public School: 72% in 2017, 49% in five years, 45% in 10 years;

- Erin District High School: 82% in 2017, 100% in five years, 91% in 10 years (if housing development begins in five years those numbers change to 82%, 103% and 108% respectively);

- Erin Public School: 65% in 2017, 51% in five years, 47% in 10 years (if housing development begins in five years those numbers change to 65%, 53% and 79% respectively);

- Harris Mill Public School: 93% in 2017, 94% in five years, 98% in 10 years;

- Rockwood Centennial Public School: 77% in 2017, 79% in five years, 92% in 10 years; and

- Ross R. McKay Public School: 45% in 2017, 32% in five years, 35% in 10 years (if housing development begins in five years those numbers change to 45%, 36% and 83% respectively).

For a full list of Wellington County schools visit www.ugdsb.ca.

During the feedback portion of the Erin engagement workshop the majority of parents and stakeholders from Erin and Guelph-Eramosa said they would like their home school to remain open.

They liked small class sizes due to the favourable teacher-to-student ratio and also enjoyed the rural feel of many of the schools, the community involvement and the outdoor spaces.

However, they also said having small schools limits the number of extracurricular activities offered and the funding received.

Many of the UDGSB schools range from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and then students go to another school for Grade 7 and 8. Some parents and stakeholders suggested making their home schools a kindergarten to Grade 8 school.

The LTAP process will continue until the end of the school year.

On March 20, at the board’s Business Operations Committee meeting, trustees will receive a summary of the public engagement workshops. In April trustees will receive a draft LTAP; in May the board will facilitate further public engagement workshops; and in June the trustees will receive a final LTAP report.

For more information and to provide online feedback visit www.ugdsb.ca/board/planning/long-term-accommodation-plan.

 

March 9, 2018

 
 

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