| Jun 18, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 11, 2009 Parham school gets boost from visionariesBy Jeff Green

A public visioning session put on by the Council of Central Frontenac turned into a mini PARC meeting in Sharbot Lake last Wednesday, June 10.

The meeting featured discussions about the need for high speed internet and the question of internet towers; the railway museum / multi-purpose building project that has been on and off the township’s radar for five years; municipal planning; and the desire for a central recreation committee.

But first it spent an hour on schooling.

Leslie Pickard of the Parent Council at Hinchinbrooke Public School, who represents the school on the Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) for the Sharbot Lake Family of Schools, brought her concerns forward.

The preferred option that the PARC has chosen calls for Hinchinbrooke school to close and the students to be disbursed to schools in three other communities, including to a new Kindergarten to grade 12 school in Sharbot Lake.

Throughout the PARC process, Hinchinbrooke School has been on the chopping block, and even at a public meeting on the previous night there had not been an outcry about its closing.

Leslie Pickard came to the visioning meeting to advocate for her school, or to have the idea of building a new school brought back to the table.

At the PARC meetings, school board staff said the board does not own enough land in the vicinity of the school to put in a new, larger school, but there was talk at the visioning session that the land may not be that hard to come by.

Pickard then received support from Marcel Giroux, who worked at Sharbot Lake High School for most of his educational career. Giroux said that the Sharbot Lake High School site is totally unsuitable and the Hinchinbrooke site would be a better choice for a comprehensive school, which he favours.

“There are lots of things that can be done with the two Sharbot Lake school sites,” he said.

Gary Giller, who recently retired from Sharbot Lake High School, said, “I always considered the under-sized gym at Sharbot Lake to have been an equity issue. It amazed me that the board would keep that in place. We all have our emotional ties in terms of location, but we need to somehow provide more programming to keep the cream of the crop from going to programs in the south. We can’t afford to lose those children from the community.”

Sue Leslie, the Executive Director of the Ontario Early Years’ Centre in Sharbot Lake, has been advocating for a youth centre as an add-on to any new high school throughout the PARC process, and she said, “I think this council needs to give this a really strong message about a youth centre.”

Councilor Gary Smith, who ran the meeting, said, “There is a need for business people to get out to the PARC to talk about the implication to their businesses of school closings.”

The final public meeting before the PARC makes its final recommendation is set for tonight, June 17, at Sharbot Lake High School.

For details about the PARC draft recommendations, go to Limestone.on.ca and click on the Accommodation tab near the top of the page.

The Central Frontenac public visioning session will feed into council’s own visioning exercise. 

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