PARRY SOUND – Parry Sound
High School will have a few extra students next school year.
A decision by Near North District School Board on Tuesday means Grade 7 and 8
students from William Beatty School, Nobel School and McDougall School will
attend Parry Sound High School as of September 2013.
Chair of the Near North District School Board, Kathey Hewitt, said the decision
was made based on a combination of factors that includes the belief that it
will give Grade 7 and 8 students access to better facilities.
"We have empty schools and we have to start consolidating them so this is
part of that consolidation process," Hewitt said. "The high schools
are also low in number, and we have to utilize the space in those as well so
it's a multi-faceted decision. It's not one thing."
By entering the high school at a younger age, Grade 7 and 8 students will have
access to a greater variety of programs than they would have had if they had
stayed in their elementary school, Hewitt said.
Some councillors objected to the process used to make the decision. Hewitt said
it was the same process used when previous schools were turned into Grade 7 to
12 schools. She said it would not have been fair if they hadn't taken a uniform
approach across the board.
"There was not a consultation process beforehand. There will be a
consultation process which at this very minute is being put in place,"
said Hewitt. "The principals were involved in discussions, as we normally
do when we're discussing changes and getting information."
The vote on the matter was not recorded, and so a complete list of which
trustees voted for and against the resolution is not available. Al Bottomley,
trustee for Zone 5 in Almaguin, said he voted against it, saying that he
believes public consultation should have gone out on the resolution beforehand.
The move is not without precedent as three years ago Chippewa Secondary School
in North Bay became a Grade 7 to 12 school. This year F.J. McElligott Secondary
School in Mattawa also became a Grade 7 to 12 school.
"The North Bay trustees are in love with this model, and it makes sense in
North Bay," said Bottomley. "I think one of the concepts is if you
have a large building you should keep it and fill it because you get a better
cost per student, and that's the theory behind it."
The board plans to look into the closing of elementary schools in the near
future, but at present, no decision has been made regarding when and which
schools, Hewitt said.