| Apr 26, 2007

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Feature Article - April 26, 2007


by JeffGreen

Officials from the Limestone District School Board have made it clear that the facilities review they received last month, which was prepared by a consultant, will only be used by board staff in the preparation of their own facilities review that will eventually be submitted to the Ministry of Education.

The report as presented envisioned dramatic and expensive changes. Among the most dramatic is the proposal to close KCVI, the oldest and best-known school in Kingston.

In the rural areas, projected enrolment decreases and aging facilities led the consultants to conclude that the answer is to close schools and consolidate services by building larger schools.


In rural Lennox and Addington, this would mean closing three schools in Stone Mills and building one new one in Centreville.

In rural Frontenac County, the proposal is remarkably similar to one proposed by the Kingston Frontenac Public Library for its library branches about two years ago - close all the schools and build a JK-12 school in Sharbot Lake.

Ann Goodfellow, who is the northern trustee and the current board chair, said that this proposal will never be acted upon because the Limestone Board is not the kind of board that likes to close schools, and that the impacts on local communities will be taken into account when the final report is submitted to the ministry.

However, if the schools in Mountain Grove, Parham, and Plevna are not going to close, doesn’t that mean Sharbot Lake High School will remain in its current state for the foreseeable future?

There will be no major improvements to the Sharbot Lake School. It has been designated by the province as “prohibitive to repair” because it would cost too much to bring it up the provincial standard for a high school. It will either stay the same, or be torn down and re-built.

Parents, students, community members, and it seems, the board and the ministry recognise that the school is out-dated. It has a woefully inadequate gym, wood shop and automotive shop, and the cafeteria doubles as an auditorium and theatre space.

The consultant said that it is not viable to build a new high school, which costs $12 15 million, for a projected enrolment of only 200 students, and the consultant was speaking the language of the Ministry of Education.

With the projected enrolment numbers, the only way that the Ministry of Education would consider building a new high school is to close the other schools and bring all the students into one space.

Even if the Limestone Board submits a final facilities report saying Parham, Hinchinbrooke and Clarendon Central should stay open, and that a new high school should be built in Sharbot Lake, the Ministry of Education is not likely to fund it.

Parents in Central and North Frontenac appear to be euchred. In order to get a new high school for their kids, they might have to sacrifice their perfectly adequate local elementary schools.

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