Thursday, July 15, 2010

The trend of the future?

I was already aware of this particular project, from the time when the Ministry of Education announced the construction grant to make it a reality. The Renfrew County District School Board broke ground this week on construction and renovations in Deep River that will see the board's first JK-12 school (and also, interestingly but not surprisingly, its first new construction in over 10 years).
"This will be the board's first JK-12 facility in Renfrew County and we want this to be done right," added (board chair Roy) Reiche.
The plan will see Mackenzie High School converted into a junior kindergarten to Grade 12 school and students from Morison Public School moving in for the 2011-2012 school year. The project will be done in stages with modifications being done to the existing structure while students will continue to attend classes, Mr. Reiche noted.
Last year, the ministry announced $4,876,588 under the province's Energy Efficiency Program for one capital project to address the accommodation needs of students at Morison Public School in Deep River. The ministry stipulated, however, that the project had to be completed no later than the 2011-2012 school year. 
Once the domain of even smaller or far more remote communities, I'm fairly certain the construction of JK-12 schools in smaller communities will increasingly become a reality across parts of southern Ontario that haven't seen this sort of school organization since the abandonment of the one- and two-room schools in the 1950s and 1960s. It will become an increasingly preferred setup, first, likely, to the French-language boards whose populations outside of some pockets of geography in Ontario are quite spread out. We have such a JK-12 facility in my coverage area that's currently under construction and will open to JK-12 students starting at the turn of the year, with the last desk moved in by the start of second semester in 2011.
It's a dramatic change for the several generations of parents and grandparents who've experienced other school organizational structures, be it JK-8 and 9-12 or JK-5, 6-8, 9-12 or other models used across Ontario over the years.
However, it allows boards to upgrade facilities and bring together students and staff into more manageable and efficient groupings. In some areas, depending on historical politics between boards, this could become an option preferred over twinning schools with a coterminous school board.