North Perth school boundary decision delayed again by trustees

·4 min read

NORTH PERTH – On May 24 at the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) Board of Trustees meeting, members again voted to defer the boundary review decision.

At the previous month’s meeting on April 26, a report prepared by staff, with consultation from Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., was presented. The previous report recommended to:

“Assign Grade 7-8 students from North Perth Westfield Elementary School (NPWES) to Listowel District Secondary School (LDSS);

Adjust the boundary between Listowel Eastdale Public School (LEPS) and NPWES;

Adjust the boundary between LEPS and Elma Township Public School (ETPS);

And continue to follow Administrative Procedures 302: Student Enrolment when considering renewal of existing border crossers and future border crossers.”

A survey promoted by the AMDSB after a report in March found that the number one option community members wanted was “to do nothing.” There were also issues concerning moving grade 7-8 students from NPWES to LDSS.

After an open session meeting on May 10, community members were able to ask about deferring and what that would look like. The newest recommendation reflects that community preference, as the report reads.

“There might be a solution that Trustees could consider that would provide the critical short-term relief needed at Listowel Eastdale but delay the controversial portion of the decision to move the grade 7-8 students from North Perth Westfield to Listowel District Secondary School. Specifically, a proposed amendment to the recommendation would be: the Avon Maitland District School Board direct board staff to begin the implementation process to adjust the following boundaries effective for the 2023/2024 school year: Adjust the boundary between Listowel Eastdale Public School and North Perth Westfield Elementary School… Adjust the boundary between Listowel Eastdale Public School and Elma Township Public… and continue to follow Administrative Procedures 302: Student Enrolment when considering renewal of existing border crossers and future border crossers.”

Now after the May 24 meeting, trustees have again deferred the decision.

Superintendent of Corporate Services and Treasurer of the Board, Cheri Carter, explains the wiggle room in deferring.

“Listowel Eastdale is a real pressure point for us,” Carter explained. “Eastdale is over-capacity right now. They’re using their library as a classroom, so that’s not ideal. Obviously, we don’t want that… What we’ve said in the report is we have to do something immediately. And by immediately, I mean September 2023, to address the Eastdale issue, but we could delay the seven/eights moving into LDSS.”

Despite that urgent need, trustees voted to delay again. Carter said that after a tumultuous few years, parents don’t want more upset for their children. “It feels like there’s more things happening at a school level,” she said. “Students are enjoying school more, and now to make a change? It is a worry. What the common message we’re getting is, ‘does it have to be now? Can we delay this? Do we have to do this right now after this difficult period for the kids?’ So, get the pandemic behind us, let these kids have a bit of normality, and then do something if needed… that’s what we’re hearing in the emails we’re receiving.”

With deferring, a few issues present themselves. For instance, NPWES is currently at capacity. “Westfield is actually at capacity this year and it’s going to be over-capacity next year. And we’ve got to move fast and get portables on the property. By the end of the next six to eight years, we think we’re going to need a total of eight portables to accommodate the kids at Westfield.

“Portables are safe and they’re climate controlled, but our preference would be to have them in the school building.”

If they keep deferring, then the school board runs the risk of the overpopulation issue snowballing. Carter says that although there are risks in deferring, trustees know the risk and know when a final decision needs to be made. Carter says that she’s anticipating that a decision will be made on June 28.

To inquire or to voice concerns over the boundary review decision, Carter says community members should contact northperthboundaryreview@ed.amdsb.ca.

Connor Luczka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner

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