BROCKVILLE/CORNWALL – A last ditch effort by SDG Counties Council to pause the closure of a school in North Stormont has ended in a resounding no.
In a letter to Counties Council, Upper Canada District School Board chair John McAllister said pausing the closure of North Stormont Public School at the end of the school year is “not an action we feel is warranted or in the best interest of students.”
In March, SDG council called on the UCDSB to halt the planned closure of NSPS pointing to the 7.7 per cent population growth in the Township of North Stormont accordin to the latest census data.
Responding to the Counties’ request McAllister pointed out that based on population trends, the increase in North Stormont is about 100 additional school-aged children. But that does not mean those children would attend UCDSB schools. North Stormont has two French-language elementary schools and two UCDSB elementary schools, plus a secondary school.
NSPS is one of several schools that the board voted to consolidate once funding was available. Roxmore Public School in Avonmore was expanded with additional classrooms and daycare places and the board plans to merge the school population of NSPS into that school, to be renamed Avonmore Elementary this fall.
Even with residential growth in North Stormont, McAllister said within Tagwi family of schools in the area, there is capacity to handle growth without halting the NSPS closure.
“At this time, there are more than 1,000 surplus student spaces in these schools,” he said. “These surplus spaces will allow us to accommodate increased growth to the area if required.”
The school board chair stood by the decision to close NSPS saying that having a larger number of students in a school will limit split grade classes and increase programming potential.
In 2020, the UCDSB received $3.8 million in funding from the Ministry of Education for expanding Roxmore PS and adding daycare spaces. McAllister said reversing the closure would dishonour funding agreements between the board and the Ministry.
He continued that the amalgamation process between students of the two school populations is already well underway and to reverse that would go against “what we believe needs to be done to fulfill our mission to prepare all students for a successful life.”
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader