Stratford ARC Highlights – December 8, 2011

The fourth meeting of the Stratford Accommodation Review Committee was held at Romeo Public School on December 8, 2011. There were approximately 65 people in attendance.

Chairperson's Remarks

Meeting Chair John Thorpe welcomed the committee members and members of the community to the meeting and reviewed with the ARC the status of the process.

Questions from Last Meeting

Staff input to group before December meeting

11-11-17 Stratford ARC Staff Input

Number of students who would be moved in changed boundary

Maps 3 & 5

Questions on Bedford's SIP

Proximity of the School to Students/Length of Bus Ride to School

Comments from Committee Members

School Council Representatives
Kathy Vassilakos, Bedford Representative, commented that the public opinion being shared seems to indicate that a sizable group of students, namely the French Immersion students are not wanted.

Kevin Smith, Community Representative for Bedford, praised Kathy Vassilakos for her dedication to the process and emphasized that she is doing this with no short or long term direct benefit as her children will have left the school before any changes are implemented.

Public Consultation Session

Larry McCabe commented that two dual track schools did not seem to be a good long term option. He inquired if it would be possible for a French Immersion program to be housed at Stratford Northwestern and make Bedford a K-8 school, and eventually make the program at Northwestern a K-12 French Immersion program.

Carol McEwin, a grandparent of students at Bedford says she is also a direct neighbour living across from the school. She says it is incomprehensible that children in the neighbourhood might not be allowed to attend the English stream program at Bedford. She says don't pull the heart out of the community by moving the English stream students out of Bedford.

Sara Wood,a member of the Bedford School community, says she visited 50 homes in the neighbourhood and most spoke in favour of keeping Bedford as a dual track school. She says she looks forward to the opportunity for her children to attend Bedford. She says this area of the town pays higher taxes than other areas and as such they should have the right to attend Bedford in the English Michelle Mackinnonprogram. She says the solution is adding another dual track school in the south end of the City.

Michelle McKinnon, a parent of students at Bedford, commended the committee for its work. She then spoke of the impact of the proposed changes to the JK and Kindergarten students. She spoke against the plan for having these students start out at Bedford in the English stream, and then have to move to another school for grade 1.

Costing for Anne Hathaway/Bedford Two Dual Track Schools Option

Hugh CoxAvon Maitland DSB Information Analyst Hugh Cox stepped the committee through the costing document for the Anne Hathaway-Bedford dual track option. This was the option presented by the ARC at the last meeting and Board Staff were requested to prepare a detailed costing of the scenario.Mr. Cox indicated that one of the downsides of this particular scenario would be that some students who currently attend Anne Hathaway would be shifted to other schools. Cox says that 63 current students would be within the Shakespeare boundary in this scenario, while there are 50 border crossing students from the Shakespeare and Romeo catchment areas that attend Anne Hathaway in this current school year.
Scenario ARC 2

Analyst Cox then went on to present the Financial impact of the scenario in comparison to the staff option presented at the beginning of the process, the option of making Bedford a single track French Immersion school. He reported to the ARC that the estimated cost savings to the in the staff option is over $354,000 and the cost savings to the Board in the two dual track school option of dual track programs at Bedford and Anne Hathaway is approximately $60,000.
Financial Impact Analysis of Option

Following the presentation of the two reports the committee entered into discussion. There were questions raised about the transportation numbers in the costing analysis. Bedford Representative Kathy Vassilakos says that while the savings in the two dual track school option is far less than in the single track option, it is difficult to measure the loss to the Bedford Community if the English stream of the school was sent elsewhere. Hamlet Community rep Steve Wells raised questions about the school boundaries presented in the costed scenario and whether those could be adjusted. He says the original ARC concept was to create balance across the schools in the City of Stratford. There was also a great deal of discussion about transportation arrangements and how school boundaries impact busing. Wells requested that documentation on the Board's border crossing procedures be made available to the committee.

Next Steps

Chair John Thorpe and Superintendent Mike Ash discussed the next steps in the process heading toward the next meeting in January. At that time the ARC is expected to present its report and recommendations to the Public. 14 days after the January 19, 2012 meeting, the ARC must submit its final report to Superintendent Ash and it will be included in the staff report and recommendations which will go to the Board on February 28, 2012. The Board will continue to receive public input for at least 60 days before Trustees decide on what configuration will be adopted at the Board meeting on May 8, 2012.

Next Meeting

January 19, 2012 - Bedford Public School

1 Responses »

  1. To all those who worry that a second dual track school placed in their neighbourhood would result in an inevitable set-up for the kind of over-crowding that Bedford School has been living with - or that Downie Central is also dealing with for that matter - I must answer: I sincerely hope not.

    For one thing, two dual track schools will be much easier to balance than one because the numbers of FI students could be capped at either building to avoid the kind of imbalance between programs that has resulted from Bedford being the only FI school.

    For another thing, the amount of population growth expected in the Elementary system across Stratford is fairly small at best. No matter how many homes are being built, it is a fact that families are not having as many children as they once were and most certainly the current economic climate is likely to have a further impact on projected population growth in the city of Stratford.

    Furthermore, the School Board is not required to use the mechanism of an AR when they are adjusting the population of schools by less than 50%. Thus, they can make small adjustments to school populations and boundaries without the almost 2 years of notice that an AR requires at any point that they determine this to be necessary.

    The Bedford Parent Council has been asking for several years that something be done about overcrowding. Although some new classrooms were added there has not been money for a second gymnasium or a larger library. The issue may have been that the numbers in FI had to reach the place they are now before making the start of a second site something that is cost-effective. There have been many lessons learned in this process, both by parents and the Board.

    A second dual track site would quite simply, insert natural flexibility into the local system so that the kind of situation we find ourselves in at Bedford today can be avoided in the future.