News Local

Trustees take over

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Mark Wanzel Photo - Accommodation Review Committee member Lisa Robertson speaks during a special school board meeting in Midhurst, Tuesday.

Mark Wanzel Photo - Accommodation Review Committee member Lisa Robertson speaks during a special school board meeting in Midhurst, Tuesday.

MIDHURST - Another milestone has been reached in the accommodation review committee (ARC) looking into the city's five public high schools, including the future of Barrie Central Collegiate.

After a Simcoe County District School Board meeting Tuesday night, the committee's final report is now in the hands of trustees, who also received the most recent staff report on the accommodation review for the high schools.

In their final report, members of the ARC suggested that Barrie Central remain open while the school board pursues partners - including private sector organizations - according to the board's facility partnership's policy. The intention would be to rebuild the downtown high school on the same site.

A partnership agreement would need to be in place by Dec. 31, 2014 or the ARC staff option would be implemented with time lines adjusted by the board.

The committee's report also suggests the board create a business plan for a new high school in the city's south end that would also include partnerships.

As of January, the staff report suggested closing Barrie Central in June 2012. But the most recent report suggests closing the school on June 30, 2015 while approving a business case for a new south end high school.

It also suggests pursuing partnerships for Central until Sept. 30, 2013. If that can't be achieved, a business case would be made for closing the school and redistributing the students to the other four high schools.

Grade 12 Central student Alix Markman believes fellow students think the ARC is "on the right track" to keep a high school on the current site.

"Their recommendation is the result of several months of discussion and exchanging ideas among city, school, and board representatives," she said. "We can only hope that the trustees will continue to listen to, and involve, everyone, because that has been the key to our progress thus far."

Markman would also like to see a new south-end school some day - which would resolve the present overpopulation problem in the Barrie high schools - without closing Central.

"As long as the trustees continue to do what is in the students' best interest, we will have a downtown high school," she added.

The next ARC board meeting will receive delegations from community members on Thursday, April 14. Anyone wishing to present a delegation must submit their request with a written copy of the presentation and/or an outline to Lena Robyn, executive assistant to the board, by 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. If more than 20 delegations register, a second meeting to hear delegations will be held on April 19.

No decisions will be made at those meetings, which are to provide another opportunity for trustees to hear community feedback.

Residents can forward comments about the accommodation review to their school trustees or contact the school board.

The final ARC board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 31. No delegations will be heard at this meeting and trustees will make their decisions about Barrie Central.

They can accept the ARC's recommendations or the staff report, or combine elements of each of them or come up with their recommendations.

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