INGLESIDE, Ontario – A packed community meeting at Rothwell-Osnabruck school on the night of Oct. 17 heard how the Upper Canada School Board (UCDSB) plans to send South Stormont students to what will be an overcrowded CCVS.
The meeting was organized by the Save Rothwell-Osnabruck School group to address the School Board’s Pupil Accommodation Review.
The Review would see 12 schools closed by July 2017 including Longue Sault Public School. Rothwell-Osnabruck school would be turned into a K-Grade 6 school and all of the high school students in South Stormont would be sent to CCVS.
Jennifer MacIsaac, one of the organizers of the meeting, said that the School Board had undermined and neglected South Stormont schools.
“The School Board set us up by taking away educational programming,” MacIsaac said.
Dale Rudderham, took to the stage to explain how both Longue Sault Public School and Rothwell-Osnabruck are mostly full, and are also in what the School Board considers to be good condition.
Longue Sault Public School is 96 percent full, Rothwell-Osnabruck is 61 percent full. This was compared to CCVS, which is the school that the Board wants to send South Stormont students to.
CCVS is only 38 percent full. The condition of CCVS is also 45 percent worse than the average of other schools in the Board.
School condition is measured by the Board through and Facility Condition Index (FCI). The lower the FCI, the better the condition of the school. The average FCI in the UCDSB is 35 percent.
Longue Sault Public’s FCI is 32 percent, while Rothwell Osnabruck’s is 30 percent. CCVS’ FCI is 76 percent.
The crowd gathered at the meeting learned that CCVS needs to be replaced, but that the School Board cannot build new schools under current Ministry of Education rules as long as there are spaces in old ones.
The Board’s plan to send more students to CCVS would result in the school being 142 percent over capacity.
The Board’s plan would also see an increase of spending on buses and transportation by nearly $600, 000.
South Stormont Mayor Jim Bancroft explained how closing community buildings like schools slowly kills small towns. He remembered how Newington lost its library, churches, and post office and that the town has not grown in recent years as a result.
He said that he would do what he could to support the efforts to save the schools of South Stormont, even raising the possibility of the Township contributing money to the cause.
“We need to be positive, we need to be respectful and we need to be forceful,” he said.
The meeting broke up into focus groups to put forth solutions to save Longue Sault Public and Rothwell-Osnabruck.
A similar meeting held at Char-Lan found that many parents would prefer to pull their children out of the School Board than send their kids to the city.