Trustee Bronwyn Funiciello, who represents Rideau-Rockcliffe/Alta Vista, introduced the motion supporting the ARC recommendations and requested a comprehensive plan to address long-term enrolment and the needs of students and the community, including consultation with the communities served by low-enrolment schools “to identify and resolve root causes of enrolment issues.”As a result of this decision, parents of students who attend Colonel By Secondary and Gloucester High schools (readers here may remember I indicated at one point I could see Gloucester HS from the window of my old bedroom at my parents' house) are now wondering what the impact of this decision will be on their schools. As they should be.
The plan would include “program pathways” to schools to increase their appeal to students, including non-semestered options at low-enrolment schools.
She also wanted the board to review the impact of previous and future boundary changes and additional funding for low-enrolment schools.
Low enrolment has dogged Rideau and has been a factor in identifying it as the school to close. Although it has a capacity of 966 students, the projected enrolment next year is only 476 students.
This wasn't a case of an under-enrolled school due to low population within its attendance area. This was the case of a school being under-enrolled because its students are inflating attendance at other schools. In some cases, I might even suggest that cross-border attendance is what has kept those schools open this long. Pre-1998, Colonel By and Gloucester were from the predecessor suburban Carleton Board of Education, when programs were introduced at Colonel By to attract out-of-area students in order to keep enrolment at a reasonable level.
I think of other situations in Ontario where the students exist within the attendance area (*cough*cough*NOTL*cough*cough*) but choose to enroll elsewhere. The OCDSB trustees' decision here shows a willingness to take a look at why that might be happening and see what options exist to 'correct' the situation. The 'target' of a closure scenario might shift as a result, but then it might also end up where it should have been aimed in the first place.