Questions and answers will be posted here. This page will be updated regularly.
Click on the titles to expand the list to see the questions and corresponding answers.Awards
How are you dealing with grade 12 awards that had previously been school-specific?
Answer: The Transition Committee will review Awards and Scholarships to ensure we can honor the terms of the donation. If the terms are not able to be honored, then the donor will be contacted to ask for direction. If the donor is not available, then the Transition Committee will be asked to provide guidance on how to proceed, within the confines of the original terms.
When you speak of grade 7/8 students in the City of Stratford, does that include those that reside in Stratford but currently attend a rural school due to current boundaries?
Answer: We are referring to students who currently attend City of Stratford schools including French Immersion Students, some of whom come from the rural area outside Stratford.
Will the boundaries be changing for either school in either scenario (especially as it relates to out of town students)?
Answer: There are currently no boundaries in the City of Stratford for secondary students and this will not change. The ‘out of town’ schools will not be affected by this change.
Branding/One School vs. Two
What will the names of the schools be after the renovation? Will both schools be re-branded?
Answer: These decisions have not been made. As required by Board Policy, staff has a transition process to be followed. This process invites our staff to convene a transition committee which will advise us as we consider details such as celebrating the schools, naming, what to do with awards, mascots, etc. This process will be adjusted due to the timelines, but will launch by January in order to have processes in place for the Fall of 2020.
Will the final decision be 1 school, 2 campuses?
Answer: This will be determined during the transition process. A number of subsequent decisions will need to be made as we move forward.
Which Option is more financially viable? Please explain with details.
Answer: Financially viability does not differ materially between the Options, given the grade structures (combining all students in the same grade at one building) are consistent with either option. Besides construction or renovation costs, there are three key financial considerations to determine operating viability, as discussed below.
Transportation costs – The details on the expected transportation costs per Option are to be calculated, but given that the same transportation rules (regarding walking distance) applies, the students home locations do not vary, and the two sites are 2.8 kms apart, we do not expect significant differences in the transportation costs for the 2 Options.
Facility Operations – Costs such as Utilities, Custodial support, snow/grass removal etc are tied to the building size. Since neither option has differing physical building size, the costs are not expected to be different between the Options.
Staffing – Staff complement is determined based on a combination of student population and grade structures. Given both Options have consistent grade structures, we do not expect a material difference in staff costs.
Building and Space Considerations
Will the tech shops be renovated?
Answer: Considerations about what spaces require renovations will come forward for discussion following the decision about the model. In both Options A and B (which are under consideration at this time) there will be renovations required to ensure that we can continue to provide programming at the SN site.
Are portables going to be needed if 9-12 are in one school?
Answer: Using our current space and enrollment projections, we do not foresee the need for portables. However, we may choose to continue the use of the original 4 portables at SN site until higher needs elsewhere in the system are identified. It is not our intention to maintain the sixteen portables that are currently in use at SN.
The Nov 6 presentation highlighted the wonderful science lab and facilities at Central for grade 7/8 or 7/8/9 students. Are the science facilities as robust and technologically advanced at the Northwestern site and if not, will there be investments to bring them up to the same level?
Answer: There are outstanding science labs at Northwestern, and these rooms were recently renovated. Other renovations were completed prior to SC students attending SN. We acknowledge that some further renovations will be required at SN to accommodate continuation of programs (including science) and to ensure they are meeting the needs of students over time.
Bullying and Violence
Why is course selection prioritized over a sense of belonging and engagement in the school? Two mid-size schools can offer a much stronger experience of student belonging and engagement, not to mention an escape route for bullying. Bullying is alive and well in Ontario schools, based on the recent CBC report. Why is student well being not being prioritized by the board? In other words, are modest gains in course selection worth the risk of loss of student well being and engagement?
Answer: We do not prioritize course selection over well-being; both are equal priorities, simultaneously. Well-being and sense of belonging are absolutely a priority in all of our schools. In this day and age, this focus is a given and we have communicated the priority in our Strategic Plan. Student responses are monitored through survey data annually. The mental health team has sent newsletters to families with connections and live links so that everyone can work together. We worked with communications to blitz a mental health focus in January, leading up to Bell’s Let’s Talk Day. Many of our schools highlight mental health activities regularly. Some schools do “Wellness Wednesdays” or #iAM well highlights. Many schools have projects to promote mental health and well-being. All of our schools work with a Leading Mentally Healthy Schools reflection tool and work towards creating schools and classrooms that are focused on promoting well-being and sense of belonging. This is our work. The teachers’ unions have worked with School Mental Health Ontario to create short lessons and activities that can be incorporated into classes. Our Mental Health researchers have worked and will work this year with students in Grades 7 through 12 to create a plan to support mental health in schools. On November 26, schools in grades 7-12 will send a team of students, a mental health champ and an administrator to learn more about promoting and supporting mental health. We are repeatedly telling our students and staff that “YOU MATTER” and we have small posters displaying this message in our schools. We know that feeling safe at school and mental health/sense of well-being are closely linked. All schools endeavour to promote safe and healthy communities. We have published newsletters for families and we are working to help students and families understand the difference between bullying and conflict. Our latest series of posters creates an awareness of what bullying is and asks “Are you a bully?” and provides strategies to support someone who might realize from the definitions that their actions might be similar to that of a bully. Schools have anti-bullying/bullying prevention plans. The week of November 19th, we will be raising awareness during Bullying Prevention Week through our Communications Department. Watch our social media posts! We also invite parents/guardians to support our efforts. Schools need the help of families and the community to support respectful and healthy relationships in our schools and broader communities.
Central will be under capacity. It appears you are trying to address that issue by moving other programs into the building. Why were you not willing to creativity address the issue that NW was previously under capacity?
Answer: Our main priority is to offer the best programming options for students, which we believe is achieved by congregating same-grade students. Regardless of where students are housed, we continually review alternate programming locations to balance capacity in the district. In this specific case: With Option A, we would shift a program currently housed at the SN building in order to balance the space usage between the two buildings. With Option B, we would leave the program at the SN building to provide a greater balance.
We notice with Option A the capacity of the “new” Central is much higher than the 7/8s projected for the next 10 years. How will this capacity issue be addressed?
Answer: In this option there would be space available at Stratford Central to accommodate some alternative programs. Specifically, we are considering moving the Adult Education and ESL classes from SN to SC, and creating a dedicated entrance for these learners to access the first floor of the building.
Will this create a capacity strain on the city schools who need to accept rural students?
Answer: No, our 10 year enrollment projections do not indicate a capacity issue with either Option.
Please provide details of the capacity of the newly renovated Stratford Central and Northwestern.
Answer: In Option A – SC (post construction) will have a capacity of 778 and SN will have the capacity of 1440. In Option B – SC (post construction) will have a capacity of 886 and SN will have a capacity of 1398. The numbers vary slightly because space for elementary and secondary students is calculated differently and in Option A, the adult education program will be moved from SN to SC (which changes the amount of available space for students).
How many grade 7 and 8 students attend the existing Stratford Schools?
Answer: As of September 30, 2019, SSES has the following student enrolment (in Full-Time-Equivalent): Grade 7 = 222 FTE, Grade 8 = 216 FTE.
Will Stratford Central renovations be done by next school year?
Answer: We expect construction to be completed by September 2020. Board staff is working with the General Contractor to produce a construction schedule to inform our best plan forward.
How long will renovations take for northwestern?
Answer: This depends on the Option chosen. Following the decision, a Facility needs assessment will be undertaken to determine the renovations required and the budget implications. Some minor renovations will be achievable for September 2020 while others may require a longer time frame, depending on the scope of the renovations.
What are the computer facilities like at NW, e.g., for learning coding?
Answer: This past summer, some renovations were completed at SSES to accommodate programs transferred from Stratford Central including Communications Technology and Robotics. Additionally, other renovations included additional lockers, washroom renovations, temporary portable classrooms, parking lot signage/entrance adjustments. School Staff and the Facilities Department made efforts to make students and staff new to the building more welcome by muting school specific theming where it made sense, as well as improving barrier free features in the building and on the site.
How can we be sure that programming is forward looking? I heard that welding and vehicle inspection is a priority. The future consists of computer coding and automation. Tech students will be more successful learning how to design robots and computer coding to make them work.
Answer: We are very proud of the breadth of technological programming that we have been able to offer students at SSES this year. By congregating the students together we have been able to offer courses that would have existed in either site, but not likely at both sites. We have some outstanding courses at SSES, such as computer engineering (robotics), technological design (architectural design), communication technology (interactive media), photography, new media and animation, TV/Video and movie production, and computer programming.
You answered that having 2 high schools as an option within Stratford would mean ” It is also important to note that the grade 7 and 8 students would not have access to dedicated spaces, such as the auditorium, science labs, or the dance studio.” But if Option A is chosen, the Northwestern campus does not have enough science labs to meet the grades 9-12 demand, the dance studio does not have barres , mirrors, nor is there a proper stage / auditorium with wings for performers. I also believe the music facilities are greatly reduced at the NW campus compared to SC. So what you’re saying is the grade 7 and 8s should have priority over the sufficient number of science labs / dance studio and auditorium, and the grade 9 -12s don’t get one? Does this make sense? The grade 7/ 8s in the rural schools do not have access to any of these specialized areas. How is this equitable for when all grade 9s come together that year?
Answer: We have acknowledged that the SN would require space improvements including those that were mentioned in this question. This was shared publicly during our November 6th presentation. The specialized spaces made available to intermediate students at the SC site would be available to students from the rural schools if they were to choose to attend that school. This is a unique circumstance where we are able to utilize existing facilities for the benefit of our students.
Are the grade 7 and 8 students offered the extra courses?
Answer: The province of Ontario has a Grade 7/8 curriculum that is delivered to all students. The curriculum affords opportunities to connect content across strands within subject areas and between different subject areas. We are excited to explore what integrated programming could look like in either Option A or Option B and are exploring innovative ways to utilize the spaces at SC so that students have unique opportunities.
How critical is the loss of the reach ahead program? Will that affect students education?
Answer: Reach ahead is an option for some students in Grade 8 in our Grade 7-12 sites. This is not a common practice, but is appropriate in some cases as we strive to support student success across all pathways.
The board keeps putting forward the notion that amalgamating the two high schools is necessary in order to improve course selection. However, course selection at the two separate high schools was pretty good, by all accounts. Were there a lot of student complaints about course needs not being met? Does the board have data around this?
Answer: In past years, both schools engaged in a concurrent programming model in an attempt to increase breadth of programming at each school for students. A bus ran back and forth between the schools each day at lunch, ferrying students. Students from SCSS would take courses at NWSS that were not offered at Central and vice-versa. This is not ideal for students and this back and forth travel was highly criticized in our community consultation. Specifically, in any given semester, 12-20 students earned anywhere from 20-40 credits in courses not offered in their home school. This year at SSES, students are enrolled in 560 credits that they would not be able to access at their previous schools because students are all under 1 roof. Those 560 credits represent 393 students at this time. This confirms for us that students want the opportunities we can provide in Options A or B.
From the recent update, it indicates that the trustees will make the final decision. Why has this changed? Should the parents/teachers/ students have been addressing the trustees all this time and not the school board?
Answer: We have kept the Minister, Ministry staff and Trustees apprised of all information, decisions and communications along the way during this process. Trustees are aware of all letters and correspondence from the community. So, stakeholders can be assured that Trustees have not missed any information. Trustees have asked senior staff to bring a consultation process forward so as to collect their own data and input prior to making a final decision on November 26. While the Ministry has not been able to provide direction, we have had a legal opinion which has also been reviewed and updated that assures Trustees that because we are not closing a school (a building), we are not engaging the Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines. For operational reasons, programming for our students for the year ahead and staffing, we must put our structure in place and can no longer wait to make our decision. Trustees have chosen to move this timely decision forward.
If Trustees are legally accountable to the public, how will they keep the board accountable to the concerns of parents?
Answer: We acknowledge that we will never have an option for congregation of our students to which all stakeholders will agree. Our ongoing and transparent process has included many opportunities for stakeholders to provide input. Specifically, thoughtexchange was open to all stakeholders to not only express their opinions, but for all others to read and rate each thought. We did allow for open questions at our May 1st meeting with approximately 300 people in the audience. And, this fall we have launched a fulsome consultation process looking to each stakeholders’ voice. We also are offering the opportunity for groups of parents via their school council, to delegate so we can hear collective opinions. All of this input is carefully considered. All questions have been answered very carefully as the answers are not only posted, but are setting the direction forward, so have not been arrived at without careful deliberation of a whole team. In all of these ways, the Trustees ensure that the staff are accountable to the concerns and queries that have come forward throughout this process.
What is happening with French Immersion?
Answer: Students enrolled in French Immersion at Bedford or Anne Hathaway will follow the same path as English stream students as they enter Grade 7.
Will french immersion be offered at both schools?
Answer: French Immersion will be offered to students in Grade 7-12 and will be organized according to the option that is selected. In both options, Option A or B, there will be French Immersion at both sites for different grades.
When you say Grade 7-8 students from the CITY OF STRATFORD. Does that include rural students who do not live in the City of Stratford but are zoned for French Immersion in Stratford (i.e. we live in Sebringville and my kids go to Bedford)?
Answer: It includes students enrolled in 7-8 French Immersion program from the rural area outside Stratford and within the French Immersion attendance boundary.
If you look at the funding approval letter, in Appendix A, it approves the addition of 168 secondary pupil placements, for a total of 829 secondary pupils. Both Options A and B do not account for 829 secondary pupils. Do Options A and B invalidate the terms of the funding request?
Answer: No. Neither Option invalidates the terms of the funding request. Funding applications and subsequent Ministry approvals are always based on an estimate of space and enrolment at a point in time (at application). The Ministry does not rescind the funding when actual enrolment figures differ from estimates or when space use changes. A change of use, from Secondary to Elementary or vice-versa, and the allocation of space for non-classroom instruction, changes the pupil places or capacity. We were required to update the pupil places calculation to convert Secondary space to Elementary, at the SC Site or convert Elementary space to Secondary, at the SC Site in both options. Both options include the 829 Secondary spaces but they are converted to either Elementary or Alternate Use.
How many students are expected to be in SC next fall in Option A? including the Stratford 7/8’s and the alternate programs? How many students are generated by the alternate programs?
Answer: Under Option A, there is projected to be 461 grade 7 and 8 students at the Stratford Central building in September 2020. The alternate programs (Adult Education and Adult ESL) do not generate additional school age students, rather they remove capacity (space) from the building.
Will Option A give the city 7/8’s and advantage in advanced learning compared to the rural schools? (because of tools such as science lab space, musical instruments, sports etc.)?
Answer: Access to the dedicated and specialized spaces will enable staff to enhance the programming opportunities for the intermediate students in the City of Stratford, however, we are confident that those students whose education is provided at the K-8 sites will continue to have quality educational programming at their schools as well.
Considering that Central will be oversized in Option A, would it be better to make the addition smaller than planned and use the Board money that is invested in the project to add additional spaces at Northwestern?
Answer: The Ministry of Education provides approval on the complete project, which includes their investment as well as the Board’s. We are not allowed to modify the construction plan without going back to the Ministry to re-apply for approval. The Ministry is kept up to date on our progress and the planning as we move forward with construction and accommodation planning.
How will the lack of space be addressed at Northwestern?
Answer: Based on updated enrollment projections and capacity, there is no issue with lack of space at Northwestern.
It was announced back in February 2019 that the preferred Option was having Central a grade 7-9 school and NW a 10-12 school. Why is it that now the Option of Central being a 7,8 is being considered?
Answer: Option A was discussed in detail after much more analysis and discussion, and with the changing enrollment and Ministry requirements. Throughout this process we have endeavoured to find the best possible options for our newly renovated SC and our SN buildings that: Offer breadth of programming, foster a sense of belonging, meet the needs of all student profiles, support student safety, consider operational issues (school and class organization, teaching assignments, timetables, collective agreements, transitions, busing, scheduling, boundaries for schools, and budget). Option A meets these criteria and eliminates the challenges we anticipate for grade 9 students in Option B.
What are the benefits of Central being 7 and 8?
Answer: Breadth of programming available to all students (no boundaries required); innovative programming for grade 7 and 8 students in dedicated specialty spaces; one transition for grade 8 students from rural feeder schools into grade 9; simplified staffing with two teaching unions and staff dedicated to each site; dedicated staff supports based on division; age appropriate inclusion opportunities for students; continued focus on promoting student voice, and sense of belonging and well-being.
If Central were to be the 7/8 school, it would only have a 60% utilization rate while NWSS would be over 100% utilization for most of the projected years?
Answer: The 10 year enrollment projections, updated with the 19/20 actual enrollment as the basis, were shared at the November 6th meeting. Based on updated enrollment projections and capacity, there is no issue with lack of space at Northwestern. The maximum utilization at the Northwestern building is projected to be no greater than 91%, for the upcoming 10 years.
If there aren’t enough grade 7 and 8 students within Stratford city limits to fill Stratford Central, what is the solution to fill it?
Answer: In Option A there would be space available at Stratford Central to accommodate some alternative programs. Specifically, we are considering moving the Adult Education and ESL classes from SN to SC, and creating a dedicated entrance for these learners to access the first floor of the building.
How many programs would be lost if option B was chosen?
Answer: While it is difficult to predict the exact implications of Option B on course offerings, we would anticipate that there would be fewer courses available for the Grade 9 students in particular. Specifically, the Grade 9 students would not be able to access courses that sit outside of the Grade 9 curriculum, additionally, there may be limitations related to their programming due to space restrictions.
What are the benefits of Central being 7,8,9?
Answer: Breadth of programming available to MOST students; innovative programming for grade 7-9 students with access to SOME dedicated specialty spaces; reach ahead opportunities from Grade 8; age appropriate inclusion opportunities for students.
How will work if Central is 7,8,9? What course offerings will grade 9 students get at central? For example with technical studies be offered? Will they have sports teams?
Answer: We want to provide the best possible program for Option A or B. There are great opportunities for leadership for grade 9s in particular. The challenge in Option B exists for our students in grade 9 who would have less access to dedicated spaces, reach ahead credits, and extra-curriculars, which could include clubs and teams. In order to provide breadth of programming for the Grade 9s, busing would likely be required as students would have to access SN for specialized programs such as technology courses and sports/club opportunities.
How are junior sports and extra-curricular groups for grade 9s going to handled?
Answer: Option B would present challenges for our grade 9 students, particularly with school teams that may practice at the other campus. It is no impossible to overcome these challenges, but solutions would need to be developed, and we anticipate that these solutions may require busing.
What if a 10-12 students wants/needs to take a grade 9 course, and vice versa?
Answer: Given that the Grade 9s would not be in the same physical space as other secondary students, there would be challenges for students who may want or need to take a course face to face, that bridges the Grade 9 year. So, if you are in Grade 10 and need a Grade 9 course this will present a challenge just as grade 9s who want to take grade 10 courses will be challenged. Online courses are an option and they have been used in the past.
How does Option B affect curriculum for the grade 9s? Is there a proposed adjusted grade 9 curriculum?
Answer: Given that the Ontario curriculum is prescribed for all students, we would not be adjusting the curriculum for Grade 9 students. We will use busing and other solutions to deliver the curriculum requirements.
Option B seems to have quite a few disadvantages compared to Option A. Why is it still being considered?
Answer: Based on the direction we received from the Trustees on October 22, we provided an analysis of Option A and Option B. Option B still provides great opportunities for students, but it does create some additional challenges.
Why don’t we keep 7 and 8 at their elementary schools like the old days (exception of King Lear)?
Answer: Actually in the City of Stratford, our elementary schools, with the exception of Juliet Public School, which was closed in 2002, have been K-6 schools for decades. In fact, King Lear Senior Public School had served the Grade 7 and 8 students in Stratford until its closure that same year.
Was the Option of Central being a 6,7,8 school considered?
Answer: This Option was not given serious consideration or proposed as one of the original seven Options.
Why are we not keeping 2 separate schools like always?
Answer: There is no status quo in this situation because Central will have 300 fewer student spaces after being renovated. Options that involved configurations similar to status quo were not pursued further after they were thoroughly assessed, considering the pros and cons related to the criteria and the community feedback. Many of these former Options would require imposing strict boundaries and/or limiting courses in both schools.
Why can we not maintain status quo with both schools being 7-12?
Answer: The trustees chose not to proceed with this option because of a fulsome discussion about why it does not meet the outlined key criteria. The most important factor of providing breadth of programming to students in Stratford and area now and in the future, would simply not be possible in this model. Given that the SC campus has 300 less spaces after renovation, we would be unable to offer all opportunities that were housed there in the past. Both sites would have the mandatory course requirements delivered within their buildings but would have significant limitations with respect to the optional credits. So, secondary students in the province of Ontario require 30 credits for graduation. Eighteen credits are compulsory (mandated curriculum), each of those schools would offer these credits at each site. The remaining 12 credits are optional. There would be significant differences between what we could offer at each site. There would be no opportunity for duplication of these credits at both sites, some of which we have done in the past. We would also not provide the concurrent programming that was offered in previous years based on costs and feedback on thoughtexchange. (Concurrent programming offered students the opportunity to take courses at one school while being registered in the other.) In addition, bundled course pathways such as French Immersion would have to move to the SN campus. Specialist High Skills Major activities would also be impacted. For example, only 1 option could be offered at SC and the others would have to move to SN. As it relates to elementary students, we would have to develop new boundaries and border crossing applications would be denied in order to ensure there are sufficient student spaces in both buildings. It is also important to note that the grade 7 and 8 students would not have access to dedicated spaces, such as the auditorium, science labs, or the dance studio.
Is it possible that Sprucedale PS grade 7 and 8 students could be asked to attend the Stratford School next year?
Answer: No. There is no intention to move Sprucedale (or any other rural schools) Grade 7 or 8 students into Stratford next year.
Can the grade 7 and 8 students be removed from Sprucedale PS without any type of review and / or input from families and the community?
Answer: Legally, a formal review is not required when a school board is moving less than 50% of a school population. However this does not preclude the Board from requesting input from the school community.
Is Option A the Board’s way of beginning to close rural schools?
Will there be any sort of guarantee that rural feeder schools can remain K-8?
Answer: The current options do not include the grade 7 and 8 students from the rural feeder schools. We anticipate that programming will be excellent in the new SC model and parents may want their child to attend, and so we would allow for border crossing should space permit. However, we do recognize that many will prefer to have their child remain in the K-8 model. We have no intention to move grade 7 and 8s from the feeder schools into the new model (Option A or B). Over the long-term, like every other school in this board, we will continue to analyze our space needs in comparison to our student population. There also maybe direction from the Ministry that may impact long term solutions but this is not a consideration for SC only, in fact it is about the entire province.
What are the programming advantages to 7/8’s being at Central vs. their current rural school?
Answer: There are many exciting programming advantages to the 7/8s being at Central. These include but are not limited to: The Central building has many unique facilities (newly re-designed library space, inter-connected secondary science labs, dedicated arts space for dance, music and performing arts). The curriculum for grade 7 and 8 students is the same in all schools, however, different spaces allow for unique ways to offer programming.
If Option B is chosen, how does it affect rural students in grades 7 and 8?
Answer: Neither Option (A or B) affects rural students in grades 7 and 8.
How can you say you are NOT closing a school? You are in fact closing both the NW Elementary School AND the Central High School.
Answer: We are not closing a school building. We are re-organizing our students within the City of Stratford. Due to the fact that we have always had open borders, and have maps of the boundaries of our two schools that have remained the same for over 20 years, we are free to organize the students in our schools, as per the Education Act. This has been confirmed with a legal opinion.
My question pertains to the assemblies that are being held on November 12th and 13th. Will these also be held for students in the current feeder schools as this will affect their education as well? You spoke about the graffiti wall, and it seemed to imply a physical wall at the current SESS school, that only the students currently at SESS will have access to and have the opportunity to have their voices heard. The students of the feeder schools who will be attending the re-organized schools in the first two years should also have a voice. This is especially true in the rural schools where the 7-9 option very much affects them as they will need to transition into one school for only a year.
Answer: The assemblies on Nov 12 and 13 and the graffiti wall will only be available to students at SSES. Grade 7 and 8 students from the area schools (“feeder schools”) will be visited in class by their principal and provided time to complete the online survey (bit.ly/stratfordschools). The principal will explain both options, including the advantages and disadvantages. They can also submit a question on the Board website using this form. Answers to submitted questions are posted on this page regularly.
Will students be given the opportunity for meaningful feedback? What processes are being put in place to ensure that ALL student voices are being heard and considered?
Answer: On November 12th and 13th, the students will participate in assemblies, during which time we will review the options that are currently being considered, we will provide time for all students to complete the online survey and to write on a graffiti wall in the main foyer of the school. We have worked with researchers from Western University on the development of these plans and have a Senior Social Science class facilitating these opportunities. All students will have ample opportunity to participate in providing feedback.
Student Transition and Engagement
In one of your responses you state, “We are repeatedly telling our students and staff that “YOU MATTER” and we have small posters displaying this message in our schools.” Do you believe small posters displaying messages are making a difference? Why didn’t you ask the student population about the current school climate? Having 3 NW students speak on behalf of the whole population is not an accurate representation of the whole population, nor is it statistically reliable.
Answer: We believe in a comprehensive approach and our “YOU MATTER” campaign is one example of how we are working to build student engagement. During the week of Nov 11th, we asked SSES students about the current school climate by working with a research team and a Senior Social Studies class. They asked the following questions: “what things are going well this year?”, “what challenges are you experiencing?” and “what solutions or strategies do you want to share?” The feedback from SSES students will be collated and shared with trustees and the public in a Board Report on November 26th and will inform ongoing planning at SSES. The three students that attended the Nov 6th meeting were asked to speak as the elected officials of the entire student body. They were asked to share their perspective.
How can the Board claim that combining two mid-size secondary schools into one will foster a sense of community. Attendance at two SSES events (Terry Fox run and a school dance) was low. How is the Board planning to address this lack of student engagement?
Answer: The best response we can offer is the response of the students themselves. Three representatives spoke freely at the meeting on Nov. 6 about the positive experience of everyone together. Our students are currently working with a research team about their likes, dislikes and concerns and we are honouring those voices. Students regularly share positive comments about their experiences. Does this mean there are no concerns? No, but it does mean we are listening and trying to provide the best opportunity possible. Mental health and well-being, along with fostering a sense of belonging are priorities for our schools, regardless of whether the school population is small or large.
On November 6th, one of the Principals at SSES suggested that “cultures and identities in both schools have been impacted,” especially among the older students. There are students, in short, who are struggling with a sense of lost identity and community. Where is the evidence that their decision will result in a stronger community and better outcomes for students?
Answer: Stronger community is built in schools. We don’t assume it will simply be there or not. This is the work of our school and system staff. Better outcomes for students has many different definitions however, our criteria speaks to our key foci: better course selection in all pathway areas and sense of belonging. Also, thoughtexchange input validated that quality programming was the key consideration. Better outcomes come from students having courses and opportunities related to their areas of interest in which they are engaged. Sense of belonging and culture building will always be critical work in each of our schools.
How will transportation work for those students that live on the other side of town from Central?
Answer: Specific details regarding student transportation will be sorted out once a decision has been made, but the walking distance rules as defined by the Huron Perth Student Transportation Service (HPSTS) will apply in Stratford, as it does for all schools in the district. The walking distance rule states that transportation will be provided in excess of 1.6 KMs for Elementary students and 4.8 kms for Secondary students.
How much more is the cost going to be for busing with the 7-9 at one school and 10-12 at the other?
Answer: Detailed cost analyses of busing have not been completed at this time. In order to provide breadth of programming for the Grade 9s in Option B, busing would likely be required as students would have to access SN for specialized programs such as technology courses. In addition, in Option B rural buses would have to deliver to both the SN and SC sites, while under Option A the rural buses will come to SN. We anticipate that this will add costs.
With the move of high school to the Northwestern campus, many families will lose the option of choosing a school that is within a reasonable walking distance, requiring the purchase of public transit tickets and/or passes. Will the board consider offering financial support to families who will struggle to afford transit for students? In cold winter weather the difference between a 20 minute walk and a 50 minute walk is significant.
Answer: The walking distance rules as defined by the Huron Perth Student Transportation Service (HPSTS) will apply in Stratford, as it does for all schools in the district. The walking distance rule states that transportation will be provided in excess of 1.6 KMs for Elementary students and 4.8 kms for Secondary students.
Is it true that universities frown upon applications from a student that graduated from a new, unknown school?
Answer: Schools are built across the province all the time and students are accessing post secondary programming from these new sites. We have no evidence to support this claim. **Note: this question was asked a second time and we maintain our response that we do not have evidence to support this claim.