North Glengarry Township Councillor Carma Williams presenting the call to action to save Maxville Public School and Glengarry District High School (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).
MAXVILLE, Ontario - The Maxville sportsplex was packed on Wednesday night for the North Glengarry Township meeting, the bulk of which was dedicated to informing the public on the future of their local elementary school.
What they heard was that Maxville was on the cusp of growth and revitalization, which was being put in jeopardy by the threat to their local public school.
Maxville Public School was identified as a school that the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) would like to close pending provincial funding for a capital project to expand Roxmore Public School.
If the plan as laid out in the UCDSB's Peer Accommodation Review (PAR) is followed through with students from Maxville P.S. and North Stormont P.S. would be bused to Roxmore.
The gathered assembly heard how businesses and groups in the area depend on Maxville Public School and its students.
The Home Hardware on Main Street benefits from the school because they buy supplies from that store.
Maxville Manor has a peer mentoring program dating back 20 years that has bridged the gap between generations. The young get to learn from the old while at the same time, the students help to bring the seniors out of isolation.
In a bid to save the school, the Save Our School committee helped organize a solution to counter the school board's proposal.
The stated reason for the school board's move to close schools like Maxville Public is to reduce empty spaces across the school board. In total, the UCDSB has 10, 000 empty student spaces.
Save Our School Committe has suggested three steps to reduce empty spaces at Maxville Public School.
The first being the disassembly of modular pre-fabricated buildings that are no longer in use. This would reduce empty spaces at Maxville P.S. by at least 100.
The second step is to introduce the French Immersion program to every school in the board. As it stands now, only a few schools in each area offer French Immersion.
North Glengarry Township Councillor Carma Williams said that the school board acknowledged that their introduction of French Immersion was poorly thought out.
"It pitted school against school," she said.
The final step that was suggested was to incorporate the residents living in Prescott-Russell North of the 417 into Maxville Public School's district. Currently those students go to Plantagenet, but the school there, with 30 some students is proposed to be closed with those kids being sent 50km away to Rockland.
One resident at the meeting asked "is the school board concerned about us withdrawing our students and sending them to another board if they close our school."
"From what I understand their thinking is that those parents who leave usually comeback," replied school board Trustee Wendy MacPherson. "That seems to be their thinking so I would say no, they're not worried about that."
Carma Williams stated that the school board's attempt to close the school really took the rug out from under the community.
"We heard tonight that we are making progress on bringing water to this community," she said. "This community is set to grow but it won't do that without a school."
North Glengarry CAO Don Gagnon had previously told the assembly that the Township had hired lobbyist Roman Kinsella to advocate to the provincial government on their behalf to get more drinkable water to Maxville.