| Mar 05, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 5, 2009 Limestone hits granite in PlevnaBy Jeff Green

Parent’s, community members, and municipal politicians from North Frontenac came out in force to a public meeting of the Limestone District School Board’s Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) on Tuesday night.

The meeting took place at Clarendon Central School in Plevna, and the bulk of audience waited through two presentations by the school board IT Manager Wayne Thoms before getting down to brass tacks.

They were there to send a message, and the message was; ‘don’t close our school.’

As soon as Thoms had finished going over the 28 questions that members of the PARC will consider when completing their final report, the possible closing of Clarendon Central was brought to the fore.

“Are there any questions that deal with the emotional effects of school closing, and of bussing to other communities,” said an audience member.

“The PARC is only gathering information at this point. We have not discussed closing any schools. We aren’t there yet,” said committee chair Barb Mclaren, “but I assure you we will take everything that people say tonight into account.”

Despite Mclaren’s assurances, several other questioners talked about the value of Clarendon Central, and how devastating it would be to the local children and the community as a whole if it were closed.

Finally Angel Myers from Plevna asked “when are we going to have an idea what is going to happen.”

“I was going to announce this at the end of the meeting,” said Barb Mclaren, “but the next Public meeting will be on June 3rd at Land O’Lakes School in Mountain Grove, and at that meeting we’ll have a draft report of what we are considering as possible recommendations.”

Brenda Martin, a retired Principal who served at most if not all of the schools in the region at one time or another, asked “if the Ministry doesn’t provide funding to build a new school, or to support the existing schools, what happens then?”

Roger Richard, the school board treasurer said, “It’s a difficult question. We don’t know if the Province will make a commitment and we don’t know what will come out of the PARC.”

North Frontenac Mayor Ron Maguire then addressed the committee, which is mostly made up of Parent Council and staff members from the five affected schools. (Hinchinbrooke, Land O’Lakes, Sharbot Lake PS and HS, and Clarendon Central)

“I certainly want the committee to consider the impact on this community of closing this school. Young families would move out, and other young families would not move in. It would be devastating,” he said.

Janice Arthur said, “I’d like you to consider the effect of the community on the school. Kids learn a lot about civic involvement by going to school in their own community. If these kids go to school elsewhere this community will not be involved. They will not see their parents in the school, and they will not see volunteering as a way of life.”

More assurances that the PARC members are still in an information-gathering mode had little effect and the audience grew still more emotional as they defended their school.

“You are looking at intelligent people,” said one person, “we know what the possibility is; we have to expect the worst, we’ve got to fight the worst.”

It was a bit too much for at least one committee member.

“I feel that you are attacking us. We are parent volunteers,” said Ann Howes from the Sharbot Lake Public School. “I just wanted to say that we are dedicated to the process. I don’t see why we should be under attack. Everyone had a chance to sit on this committee.”

Marci Webster, a parent with children at both schools in Sharbot Lake, addressed the committee members directy.

“I would not want to be where you are,” she said. I thank you very much for dong this. I think everyone is giving their opinion to better equip you as you go forward. It’s very emotional for all of us and I thank you all for doing this.”

Information about the PARC process is available at limestone.on.ca under the heading “accommodation”.

A survey is available there for interested parties to fill out and this will be included in the PARC deliberations. The deadline for filling out the survey is March 12th. More information will be posted on the website as it is gathered.

The information will also be available from the schools.

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