What was different here? Well, for one, I enjoy it when board staff members can state rationale in simple, accessible language instead of edu-speak or hiding behind catchall reasons.
The consolidation of the Sharbot Lake family of schools, as it is known, would be the third done by the board as it shuts aging and small schools and melds student bodies into larger schools for economies of scale and reduced operating costs.The proposed solution recommended by the review is to consolidate five elementary and secondary schools built between 1947 and 1971 into one K-12 school with a population about 500 to 700 students. Senior staff diverged from this slightly, recommending closure and consolidation of four schools instead of five after an analysis of busing times for one of the elementary schools included in the review. The following sentences speak to the intent of the declining enrolment working group's recommendation that boards need to do a better job of explaining why they strike reviews and recommend consolidation.
Napanee and east Kingston are already moving down that path and the northern part of the board, home to some of the oldest and most expensive to operate schools in the board, was seen as the logical next step.
"Some of these schools are more than 50 years old and they are increasingly expensive to keep up," said superintendent Roger Richard yesterday.
"Frankly in this age of green schools, these buildings are prohibitively expensive to repair and maintain, so we would like to consolidate them in a new facility."
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, 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 interests 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.I also noted with interest the strong language in the report for seeking partnerships with the local Catholic board and the area's municipalities to get even more extensive value for the pending investment.
The public input session before the entire board of trustees is scheduled for March 2.