At the AMDSB Board of Trustees meeting on November 26, the Board unanimously agreed to move forward with the following configuration for Stratford Central and Northwestern beginning in September 2020:
- Grades 7 and 8 students from the City of Stratford will attend school at the former Stratford Central location; and
- Grades 9 to 12 students from the City of Stratford and surrounding area will attend school at the former Stratford Northwestern location.
In addition, the Board passed a motion to place a two-year moratorium (beginning September 1, 2020 through to September 1, 2022) on moving grade 7 and 8 students from Stratford area rural feeder schools into the current Stratford Central site. The Board may revisit this consideration, depending on the circumstances at that time.
This decision came after two years of document review, expert and stakeholder consultation and countless hours of meetings and discussions. The Trustees and Senior Staff have done an extensive review of over seven options considered over the past year as well as the final option that was selected. They used the following criteria from the outset to evaluate each option:
- Offer breadth of programming
- Foster a sense of belonging
- Meet the needs of all student profiles
- Support student safety
- Operational considerations: school and class organization, teaching assignments, timetables, collective agreements, transitions, busing, scheduling, boundaries for schools, and budget.
Senior Staff and Trustees eliminated all options except two for a number of operational and programming reasons. They considered two final options (Option A and Option B), and these two options were consulted on over the past month. All information received throughout the fulsome consultation helped Trustees to arrive at the final decision last night.
Colleen Schenk, Chair of the Board said: “We are pleased to arrive at a decision for the future of these two schools but we do acknowledge that no path forward will satisfy everyone involved. We had a difficult decision to make but we ultimately believe that this new structure will provide the best opportunities for our students, which is and always will be our focus.”
A transition process will begin in the New Year and will involve a committee of students, families, staff and community members. The process involves a celebration of the rich histories and successes of the two schools and the creation of a new identity.
“We understand the loss that will be experienced by members of these two school communities. We believe the creation of a new school identity will help our students and staff begin to develop a renewed and strong sense of school identity and belonging. We aim to properly celebrate the past and develop a vision for the future,” Trustee Schenk added.
The Trustees would like to publicly acknowledge both school communities for their engagement in this process, their feedback and thoughtful questions, and their understanding of the Board’s mandate to balance the many factors involved in this complex decision. Students and staff have had to relocate during this year of transition and are now embarking on the permanent change of a new school environment. “Change can be challenging but we believe that our staff and students are resilient and will embrace this new structure given time,” said Trustee Schenk.
Renovations at the Stratford Central building are progressing as planned and the building is scheduled for completion by summer 2020.