LKDSB is still waiting for the green light to plan future school closures

The possibility of consolidating schools in the Sarnia and Corunna-Mooretown areas is still on the table, but school board officials are still unable to move forward with the plans due to an ongoing moratorium on school consolidations.

2021/2022 Student Accommodation Report was presented to trustees during a Lambton-Kent District School Board (LKDSB) meeting earlier this week. It outlined current and expected enrollment figures as well as four of the original eight proposed phases presented to administrators before the moratorium.

The proposed phases include the construction of a new elementary school in Sherwood Village to house students currently traveling by bus to King George VI, Lakeroad, Confederation Central, High Park and Errol Road Public Schools, respectively. The proposal, first introduced a few years ago, would result in the closure of Confederation Central Public School, Queen Elizabeth II, London Road Public School and Lakeroad Public School, which has a total expected reduction of 637 empty student places.

Another proposed phase involves the closure of Mooretown-Courtright Public School and Colonel Cameron Public School, which has an expected combined reduction of 281 empty student places. An additional option involves the closure of Mooretown-Courtright Public School and the consolidation of students at Colonel Cameron Public School.

LKDSB Superintendent of Capital Planning Mark Sherman said the report does not serve as a recommendation, but is more a snapshot of the current situation.

“Any phases we had presented, which is now quite a few years ago, regarding possible closures of school consolidation are frozen,” he said. “We can not go into new phases or new procedures for accommodation assessment committees.”

Sherman noted that the reason projects, such as the new JK-12 super school in Forest, are moving forward is that the plans were approved before the moratorium.

Although planning is frozen, Sherman said the school board is still dealing with 8,421 empty student seats.

“It limits how efficiently we can allocate our resources and use the board’s budget,” he said.

Sherman said it’s hard to say whether the moratorium will end soon, but the good news is that enrollment levels have stabilized somewhat.

“Our projections are that in the next 10 years – just like in 2031 – we will not fall much at all,” Sherman said. “So if the moratorium is lifted, it will really be a good place for the board to be in, because we will be able to come up with significant proposals on how to adapt the board to the right size, and it will be appropriate decisions in long time. .”

In terms of virtual learning, Sherman said it is not expected to hurt the number of enrollments in the future.

Last year, 3,150 students moved to a virtual school environment due to the pandemic. This year, at the primary and secondary school level, about 800 students are involved in virtual learning.

“[It’s] still significant, but it’s a 75 percent drop, so it clearly indicates that parents prefer to have their children face to face in a school, ”Sherman said. “Right now, we do not know if we will move forward with next year, we will be referred to run virtual schools again in the elementary and secondary panel.”

Included in this year’s student accommodation report were also five possible long-term planning options to consider.

“They are very broad. We talked about maybe doing a city Sarnia elementary school border crossing, which is allowed even under a moratorium,” Sherman said.[It’s] just so trustees have an idea that we are still considering trying to create efficiency in our system. “

Other options that have not been approved by trustees include reusing the London Road Public School to include adult programs, closing Alexander MacKenzie Secondary School and modernizing the Errol Road Public School to house advanced technical programs.

The full student accommodation report can be found by clicking here.

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