Rothwell-Osnabruck strongly represented at final meeting

Nick Seebruch
Rothwell-Osnabruck strongly represented at final meeting
There were four delegations from Rothwell-Osnabruck at the last public consultation on March 2 before the UCDSB Trustees vote on the final staff report (Alycia Douglass/ TC Media).

NORTH GRENVILLE, Ontario – The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) gave concerned residents one more shot to take their case directly to the trustees in two special meetings on March 1 and 2.

R-O had five presentations across the two night consultations, more than any other single school. Mayor Jim Bancroft and Councillor Primeau, business owners Scott Fines and Martin Timmers of Home Hardware and Foodland and parents like Troy Froats, Richard Waldroff and Jennifer MacIsaac and Teri-Lynn Beckstead all went up to bat for Rothwell-Osnabruck’s High School program.

Scott Fines of Fines Home Hardware told the trustees that two years ago, he chose to move to Ingleside over small towns across Canada and he chose to expand his business here in part because it had a JK-12 school.

The presentations on behalf of Rothwell-Osnabruck were consistent and on-point. Common themes that these presentations hit on were increased busing times, the economic impact of closing the township’s only high school and how the loss of French Immersion made R-O a less competitive school.

"A recurring theme for Rothwell-Osnabruck seems to be the re-introduction of French Immersion," said Trustee John McAllister.

Jennifer MacIsaac summed up the feeling of the R-O community when she explained  that the loss of French Immersion had left the school with a competative handicap.

"We’ve been asking for the same thing for 15 years, I’ve been asking for the same thing for 15 years and some of you have been there that long," she said. "What we’re asking for is an even playing field so we can compare apples to apples."

The apples to apples argument comes from the competition with co-terminus schools like Our Lady of Good Counsel, a Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) school right next to R-O. Our Lady has early track French Immersion starting from Kindergarten and has had it for 15 years. R-O on the other hand has only had early track French Immersion for two years.

Rothwell-Osnabruck’s high school program remains slated for closure in the UCDSB’s final staff report for their Pupil Accomodation Review (PAR). The high school students currently at R-O and future high school students in South Stormont would be sent to Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore if the UCDSB’s trustees pass the final report on March 23.

Jennifer MacIsaac however pointed to incorrect information that the board was using to formulate its strategy.

"Trustees will know that upon reviewing the R-O Secondary SIP that it shows a utilization of 35 percent," she said "The ARC committee has brought to the attention of the board staff that the secondary grades are shown as 9-12 when R-O secondary is in fact 7-12. We have known that utilization figure to not be a fair representation as it omits 54 grade 7-8 students and does not allow for an apples to apples comparison to other secondary schools"

"We have recently discovered that in addition to our previous point, there is a tremendous error in the R-O Secondary SIP capacity number," she continued. "The current SIP shows the capacity of R-O secondary as 363. That figure is completely wrong. The actual capacity of R-O secondary is 231 which makes the grade 7-12 utilization 79.2 percent which is so much greater than the 35 percent that the public has been lead to believe. We know this to be true by having examined multiple UCDSB documents which we have available for review. This huge error must be taken into consideration by you, our Trustees! We as parents and ARC members have been tasked in finding and correcting the many errors of the report and even in the final hours, we are still finding errors as significant as this one."

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