News Local

Schools' fates in limbo

By Nicki Cruickshank, Barrie Examiner

Parents and students eager to hear the fate of five area high schools will have all summer to wait.

The Simcoe County District School Board has pushed a meeting to discuss the possible closures of those schools -- Elmvale District High School, Stayner Collegiate Institute, Collingwood Collegiate Institute, Midland Secondary School and Penetanguishene Secondary School -- until late September.

The schools have been the subject of an emotional accommodation review process for months.

Since no final decision was made at the June 22 board meeting, jam-packed with parents and students, trustees and board officials have decided to push any final decisions to the regular board meeting on Sept. 23 at 6 p. m. at the education centre in Midhurst.

Debbie Clarke, board spokesperson, said although the three-month wait will have some parents reeling, holding off was the best option.

"(The board) had to look at the regular board meeting schedule and also be cognizant of families who will be off on summer holidays," Clarke said.

"We wouldn't be reaching all the families because I'm sure many will be away on vacation, and some board staff will, too.

"But we wanted to announce this date and time as soon as possible, because we understand families are anxious to know what's happening," she added.

There is a regular board meeting scheduled for Aug. 26, but Diane Firman said the board had its reason for choosing not to hold the meeting then.

"We weren't able to get the information out about the meeting through the high schools because now it's summer break, and we wanted to give parents enough notice about the meeting," said Firman, board chairperson.

"That's why we've decided to hold off until September to meet."

Trustees noted that excess capacity is at the heart of the debate and that funding from the ministry is based on enrolment.

The board said student numbers are dropping county wide, yet EDHS is at 160 per cent capacity and has 11 portables.

The Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) has recommended a five-school option, which would keep all five schools open.

Another report suggested that keeping three schools open -- Collingwood Collegiate, Midland Secondary and a new school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale -- would suffice.

ncruickshank

@ thebarrieexaminer.com



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