School Closures Will Cost South Stormont $7.5 million annually

Heather Armstrong, Special to TC Media
School Closures Will Cost South Stormont $7.5 million annually
Councilor Donna Primeau and Mayor Jim Bancroft listen as Rick Clayton presents the Economic Impact of Prospective School Closures in South Stormont

LONG SAULT, Ontario – In a report presented Wednesday evening to the South Stormont Council, Council learned the Upper Canada District School Board’s (UCDSB) plans for Longue Sault Public School (LSPS) and Rothwell-Osnabruck (R-O) K – 12 School will have a large economic loss in South Stormont.

The UCDSB wants to close Longue Sault Public School, and amalgamate the existing students to R-O K – 12 School. The Board would then send the R-O grades seven to 12 students to Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School (CCVS).

Rick Clayton a recognized Canadian expert in economic impact assessment, policy evaluation, and industrial/industry analysis, presented the report entitled Economic Impact of Prospective School Closures in South Stormont, Ontario, which was prepared by Doyletech Corporation.

The report said, “Using realistic or even conservative economic assumptions, the economic loss to South Stormont from the prospective school closures is very large. The hit is likely to amount to $4.4 million from the loss of Operational Spending at the schools, and rises by an additional $3.1 million through what we anticipate as expected local slowdowns in residential construction, to make a grand total loss of $7.5 million annually.”

The report also said, “A loss of $7.5 million is a huge hit in a local economy where the entire municipal budget is only approximately $15.2 million.”

Among the other key points the report predicts South Stormont will have a permanent employment loss of 28 jobs, families moving out, construction slowdowns, staffing problems for employers, and loss of revenue for all the local businesses.

Clayton said this about the proposed school closures, “It’s not going to save a lot of money. You’re going to hurt the economy.”

Jennifer MacIsaac, R-O ARC member and Save South Stormont Schools Committee member said, “It is clear that the loss of Rothwell-Osnabruck Secondary and Longue Sault Public would have a devastating effect on our community. What stood out for me is the loss of $7.5 million annually in a municipality that has a budget of approximately $15.2 million; that sure puts things into perspective.”

In conclusion the report said, “There does not appear to be a convincing case for these school closures, in light of the economic value destroyed, family disruptions caused, the prospect of students’ educations being compromised through long bus rides, and the additional costs of future dealings with special needs and “at-risk” children.”

Clayton also said. “We must consider the emotional, social and physical impact relocating to a mega-school would have on these children who would be at higher risk of falling between the cracks”.

MacIsaac said The Save South Stormont Schools Committee and both the R-O and LSPS ARCs have a unified plan. “We created a plan, she said, “that sustains both schools, keeps our children attending schools within our community and brings the utilization for LSPS and R-O to 96% and 97%. We are confident that the UCDSB cannot ignore our proposed solution for South Stormont.”

The meeting was attended by approximately 70 people a mix of R-O and LSPS parents, South Stormont Community Members and South Stormont Business Owners, as well as MPP Jim McDonell and former MPP Jim Brownell.

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