| Jul 02, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - July 2, 2009 Government won't balk at smaller school – BaileyBy Jeff Green

When the Province of Ontario committed almost $13 million (it was actually $12.88 million) to build a new school in Central Frontenac a couple of weeks ago, the commitment was pretty much open ended, according to Ruth Bailey.

Bailey, the Program and Accommodation Review facilitator for the Limestone Board, told the News this week that as far as she knows, the province will not require that Land O'Lakes Public School be closed in order for them to fund a new comprehensive school in Sharbot Lake or Parham.

The Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) for Sharbot Lake High School and its family of feeder schools will be meeting next Monday, July 6 to finalise their report to the board.

Their draft report, which was the subject of two public meetings last month, calls for Sharbot Lake Public School, Sharbot Lake High School and Hinchinbrooke Public School to close, and a new kindergarten to grade 12 school to be built at the site of Sharbot Lake High School. Clarendon Central (Plevna) and Land O'Lakes Public would remain open under the draft plan.

While Central Frontenac Township Council has expressed concern about losing a school in Parham, the public meetings were relatively subdued on the matter.

If indeed the PARC completes its work on Monday, their report will go to the school board director, who will work with senior staff over the summer to bring a final report to the board of trustees this coming fall.

The trustees will consider the PARC committee report as well as the director’s report, if the two differ, and will convene another public meeting before making a final decision.

The Limestone Board has two other PARC processes underway, both of which started nine months before the Sharbot Lake PARC did, and plans for a new school in Kingston East are progressing towards an anticipated construction beginning next spring. The other, in Amherstview, is going more slowly because it is calling for two schools to be built when the province has only provided enough funding for one.

As the Program and Accomodation Review Committtee (PARC) for the Sharbot Lake family of Schools holds their final meeting, it will be the first time they will have the efinite prospect of anew school in front of them.

The Province of Ontario committed $12.88 million towards a new building a couple of weeks agom, and according to Ruth Bailey, the PARC facilitator for the Limestone District School Board, the draft report that the PARC has prepared, would be acceptable to the Priovince.

“The province generally leaves that kind of detail to the local board,” she said in a telephone interview last week. “The money is allocated to the accommodation needs of the students in the whole region, and can only be used for new construction. That being said, the allocation is a 'draft' allocation. They will want to see where the project is going before finalising their commitment.”

The draft report calls for the closing of schools in

Parhamamnd Sharbot Lake and a new K-12 school in Sahrbot Lake. It also calls for the schools in Plevna and Montain Grove to stay open.

The PARC report will go to the school board director, who will beign afinal report to the board of trustess in the fall. The trustees will consider the directors report and the PARC report, if the two differ, and will hold a final public meeting before making a decision.

At that point much work will have to be done to finalise construction plans for a new school.

“I would say the board would be hoping to get a new school built in time for the 2011 - 2012 school year,” said Ruth Bailey, “but the following year might be more realistic.”

At the public meetings, particularly the most recent ones, there have been proposals to add community space, a youth centre and a theatre to any new school.

“The school board has indicated it would be receptive to such an addition, but it would be best to work all those details early in the design process,” said Ruth Bailey. “There are security questions, cost questions, and others that need to be worked out, as well as financing.”

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