News Local

School review back on agenda Monday

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Some parents of Monsignor Clair Catholic School students are leery of a pupil accommodation review of north-Barrie elementary schools being conducted by the school board.

The third meeting of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board's review for Monsignor Clair, St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic School, St. Mary's Catholic School, Sister Catherine Donnelly Catholic School, St. Monica's Catholic School and The Good Shepherd Catholic School will take place Monday night at St. Monica's.

The review is used by board officials to evaluate and review how schools accommodate students and to determine facility needs.

Marg Sergi's children have attended Monsignor Clair for the past 11 years and she would like to have her youngest daughter graduate from there.

But she's worried about what the accommodation review holds in store for the school's future.

"The parents of Monsignor Clair are particularly angered because of the six schools involved in the review process, our school has the second highest capacity at 79%, with only five classrooms closed and full time kindergarten not yet implemented," she said.

Sergi said some parents are wondering if the review is being held as a round-about way to free up one of the six schools to be used as a new school board administration centre. Currently the board has offices in three buildings: one that is leased on Bell Farm Road and two that the board owns on Alliance Boulevard and Ferndale Drive.

Rumours over the past two years have suggested the board has already identified it wants to take over Monsignor Clair, Sergi added, and amalgamate at least two of the board offices into the school and re-zone and distribute the students as a result.

"Recommendations from the PAR working groups have proposed that academic services be put into the unused spaces within the schools with excess capacity. Of course, only to be turned down," Sergi said.

"It doesn't seem to matter what the committee proposes because the board ultimately knows the outcome of the process.

"Our greatest concern is that the whole pupil accommodation review process is just a required process by the ministry - and thus the board - to fulfill requirements before a school is shut down," she added. "Our greatest achievement would be if we could have the actual review halted because there are far too many unanswered questions."

Steve Charbonneau, superintendent of education and chair of the PAC, has stated the processes of finding new quarters for the board's administrative offices and the pupil accommodation review are totally separate.

"As an organization, we can't focus on what's going on out there in the rumour mill," said Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board spokesperson Diane Legg.

"It's unfortunate, but I guess there are going to be rumours. We have this process and we're going through it with integrity. Staff are working very, very hard through this process," she added.

"We're very committed to hearing people's comments and ideas."

During Monday night's meeting, parents will hear from other parents and the PAR committee's comments on some of their recommendations, Legg said.

"We still haven't come up with a staff recommendation yet," she said.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at St. Monica's Catholic School at 90 Steel St. Visit the board's website at www.smcdsb.on.ca for more details.

imcinroy@thebarrieexaminer.com



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