The goal is business as usual.The decision by District School Board of Niagara was a unique one when it came down just over 18 months ago. The community presented all of its rationale for why NDSS is a superior learning environment and could be even better with more students if the community and the school had a chance to do some real recruiting and boost enrolment. In the midst of covering my own review of a 250-pupil high school in a single-school rural community (far more rural and not at all as touristy as NOTL) where advocates had devised a boundary solution that would temporarily alleviate low enrolment, I advocated for similar flexibility in a column published in the early summer of 2008. No one listened to it on the local board, but 16 months later, I'm not that offended given the outcomes in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“Obviously, we’re working towards that end,” Cockburn said. “We want the kids to have an extremely good year and the staff likewise. Everybody’s energized.”
Meanwhile, supporters are trying to come up with ways to give the school a reprieve.
Lord Mayor Gary Burroughs said he’s trying to meet with the director of the school board and chair of the board to introduce the town’s new CAO and find out what they have to say about NDSS.
He said he wants an extension to the Oct. 31 dealine.
NDSS supporters were given that chance-- but the school's enrolment has been hovering around the 250 mark for the 2008-09 and,
Burroughs told the Standard in 2008 the community would have no problem raising $100,000 a year to give entry scholarships to Grade 9 students-- I don't know if this actually happened, someone please enlighten me. Service clubs pledged their support. An IB program is coming to the school (it may be too late, as the school might close before the first IB credit starts) and even football was seen as a saviour. Friday's article speaks of a team itself too short on players to even compete.
From the same 2008 article, note the following prescient comment:
St. Catharines trustee Dalton Clark wasn't happy with the outcome. Demanding a certain level of enrolment puts the onus on the community, when it is the board's job to make tough decisions, he said. This decision means trustees "don't have to be the bad guys tonight.So, here the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake now lies, with NDSS' enrolment being pretty darn near where its projections said it would be. The petition did nothing, the Community Schools Alliance and its 'smart' moratorium, even with two NOTL civic politicians on the executive committee, hasn't changed NDSS' fate. Not even screwing the school board out of a preferred site for a new Virgil school -- OMB hearing pending -- has changed anything about this outcome whose date is circled on the calendar. There still aren't enough students to meet the 350 target and erase 'last day of classes, ever' off the NDSS June 2010 calendar.
"We can all walk away tonight with the crowd cheering us, but what are we putting on that community?"
The community has failed in its efforts.
Could they do it with more time? I don't have an answer to that question.
It's one trustees will face this fall, likely, and it will be interesting to see how many remember Clark's words from 2008. Also interesting whether the result -- an extension, if granted -- would produce any different result, or just extend into some unknown future time the same arguments that are happening today.
Maybe someone will be able to turn up that recipe to instantly bake up some 14- to 18-year-olds. A dash of lethargy, a pinch of vanity, a smidgen of youthful exuberance... I know I had that formula around here somewhere. Where did I put it?