Friday, October 23, 2009

Upper Canada overhauls

The Upper Canada District School Board is an interesting board to keep an eye on. The board's geography covers a swath of eastern Ontario, horseshoeing around the City of Ottawa from the Quebec border up to just shy of Renfrew, and all the way down to the St. Lawrence.
A number of years ago, it began convening a small high schools forum -- I couldn't tell if this is still being done -- bringing together supporters of small high schools with people who've had experience with administering and programming them.
Then a few years ago (two? three?) it initiated a district-wide 20/20 review of all its facilities and schools. Out of that review came the always controversial recommendation to move all the board's schools to a K-6 and 7-12 format. It marked the first time in its history the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario publicly took on and vocally opposed a board's 7-12 recommendation. (I personally think ETFO fears 7-12 because its members would be too close to witness a federation that has a better track record of choosing its battles and winning them)
These are the things that underpin its current accommodation reviews, with a few examples of coverage in the Standard Freeholder. This article from last week lays out some of the questions for high schools in the Cornwall area.
But (Upper Canada chair Greg) Pietersma didn't deny a major overhaul of board facilities -- including Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School -- is required in order to fully achieve the goals of Building 2020.
Building 2020 is the board's strategy to maximize the use of its facilities as it continues to lose enrollment.
"Even $15 million is not going to build you much of a high school," Pietersma said on Friday as the Building 2020's task force, the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC), prepares for a public meeting Tuesday at General Vanier Intermediate School.
Pietersma was responding to the possibility of building a new or renovating the current CCVS in order to accommodate more students.
ARC is proposing that CCVS, GVIS or St. Lawrence Intermediate be sites for two -- or just one -- high schools hosting grades 7-12.
A followup posted this week shows the elementary component of the Cornwall review is getting all the attention, with the board saying it would like to hear more about the high school end of things.
board officials say they’re lacking feedback on the two draft proposals about Cornwall secondary school options.
... UCDSB officials want to know if parents would rather have one or two public high schools in Cornwall. One school could have increased funding potential, but two schools would give parents geographical options.
The one school option would be either a rebuilding or renovation of Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School (CCVS) on its existing site.