| Jun 04, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 4, 2009 PARC makes a pickBy Jeff Green

Committee calls for a new comprehensive school to replace Hinchinbrooke and Sharbot Lake Public schools and Sharbot Lake High School; opts to keep Land O' Lakes and Clarendon Central open “as possible”

The Program and Accommodation Review Commitee (PARC) for Sharbot Lake High School and its feeder schools in four communities has chosen its preferred option to bring forward to public meetings this month.

The option calls for the closure of Hinchinbrooke Public School and the disbursal of students from the school to schools in Sharbot Lake, Mountain Grove, and Verona.

It also calls for the closure of Sharbot Lake Public School and Sharbot Lake High School, and the construction of a new kindergarten to grade 12 school in “Sharbot Lake or another suitable location.”

Land O' Lakes Public School (Mountain Grove) and Clarendon Central Public School (Plevna) would remain open “as possible” in the words of the option that the PARC chose at their meeting last Thursday, May 28 in Mountain Grove.

The preferred option was Option 1 of a list of six options that the PARC had come up with and had been mulling over for months. It garnered the majority of votes - 16 on the second ballot cast by the 30 members of the PARC. Option number 2 (which would mean the same configuration of schools as Option number 1, differing only in calling for the grade 7 and 8 students from all the feeder schools to be housed at the new school) received 7 votes. Option 3, which would have incorporated all of the students from LOLPS in the new school, also received 7 votes.

In the first ballot, 3 less popular options, which were supported by 4 votes all together, were eliminated from consideration. Option 1 received 12 votes on the first ballot.

The Program and Accommodation Review Committee includes representatives from parent councils, as well as teachers, staff members, and principals from the affected schools, along with township council appointees from Central and North Frontenac. Two school board trustees are non-voting members of the PARC. School Board officials serve as resource persons. The PARC has been facilitated by Ruth Bailey.

The preferred option reads as follows:

Close Sharbot Lake PS, Hinchinbrooke PS, Sharbot Lake IS/HS and relocate the students, as appropriate for bussing purposes, to Prince Charles PS and to a new K-12 school on the Sharbot Lake IS/HS site or another appropriate site. Maintain Land O’Lakes P.S. and Clarendon P.S. as possible.

A schematic drawing, showing how a new school would fit on the Sharbot Lake High School site, was provided to the PARC. A suggestion that the site of the current Hinchinbrooke school would also be appropriate was discounted by school board officials because most of the adjacent land at Hinchinbrooke school is not owned by the board, including some of the land that is currently used by the school.

At the start of the last week’s meeting, Norman Guntensperger, the representative for Central Frontenac Township Council on the PARC, read a prepared statement, which advocated for keeping Land O'Lakes open. The statement cited the school’s role as “the heart of our little community.”

The letter notes that the community makes full use of the school throughout the year. “The closure of Land O' Lakes would likely lead toward the demise of Mountain Grove as a viable village and help create a sad ghost town where there is now a functioning village with an active social life,” the letter said.

In addition to being a member of Central Frontenac Council representing the Olden District, (which includes the village of Mountain Grove), Guntensperger is a teacher at LOLPS.

The selection of a preferred option by the PARC does not mean the end of the line for Hinchinbrooke or Sharbot Lake public schools.

The PARC will meet this week to finalise their draft report, and public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, June 9 at Land O' Lakes Public School (6:30 pm – 9:00 pm) and Thursday June 18 at Sharbot Lake High School (6:30 pm to 9:00 pm).

The Program and Accommodation Review Committee will meet one more time after the public meeting, on July 6, at which time they will submit a final report with input from the public meetings.

The PARC report will not go directly to the school board, however. It will be considered by board staff, who will then submit a report to the board later this year. The staff report may differ from the PARC report.

As of yet, there has been no commitment from the Ministry of Education to fund a new school in the north part of Frontenac County.

The projected costs of Option 1 are still being calculated. However, based on the projected costing that has been done on other options, it will likely be well in excess of $16,000 per student, which is roughly the amount that the Ministry of Education has given to other new schools in the Limestone Board.

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