Here you will find responses to questions regarding the VISION phase of the project. The VISION Phase is the long-term outcome of the research and input gathering processes for what will happen in 2020-21, after Stratford Central Secondary School is renovated during the 2019-20 school year.
The announcement of Option 7 has resulted in a number of comments and questions being posted to the Stratford Project feedback form. The following responses to those comments and questions should provide further clarification of the process that has resulted in Option 7 being presented as the preferred option. Please refer to the main Stratford Project page for more information.
Thank you to those who have submitted comments and questions. We have read your comments and appreciate knowing your thoughts. If your question is a new one we have not yet answered, we will post a response on this page shortly.
Does the (hypothesized) decline in enrolment account for the loss of the following positions at SCSS? (We know that these cannot be attributed to the Ford cuts, because the staffing ratio remains at 22:1, not 28:1, for next year):
The loss of teaching positions is the result of a combination of factors. One of those factors is declining enrolment, which is not unexpected given that we have had declining enrolment in Secondary for several years. Every year there are students who choose to attend a different school and there may be some who have made that decision based on uncertainty regarding the futures of Central and Northwestern, but at this point we have no way of determining exactly how many. It should be kept in mind that at this point, the final decision has not yet been made: Option 7 is the preferred option but we are still awaiting word from the Ministry on the status of the new policy and guidelines for Pupil Accommodation Reviews.
In 2017-18 the combined projected enrolment for 2019-20 was 1558 (SCSS 801, SNSS 757.) That number presented at the May 1 meeting was revised based on this year’s current enrolment to 1526 (767, 759.) Currently there are 1453 students registered for Grades 9-12 next year. One of the realities is that we have by comparison to other grades, a very large Grade 12 class leaving, with a much smaller incoming Grade 9 class. This was not unexpected. It should be noted also that these numbers do not include any International Education students – this year we have had 118 students attending SCSS and SNSS from other countries, representing a Full Time Equivalent of 71.5 students (FTE is the combination of full time and part time students.)
When we sought feedback on the Transition Year, it was abundantly clear that students and parents did not want to have a split schedule day where one school ran in the morning at Northwestern and the other ran in the afternoon. As a result, we opted to combine the two student and staff bodies for the Transition Year at Northwestern. This means that we will have no room for International Education at these two schools, but it will run in other schools within the Board.
There are other factors that have led to the reduction in teaching staff at both schools. While we have not yet moved to the 28:1 class size average, there have been several other program cuts that have led to teachers returning to regular classroom positions from central positions or from special programs within the school (programs funded by special grants.) The unfortunate result is teachers who are lower in seniority are bumped out as others return. Additionally, the two Stratford high schools, like some other secondary schools in the Board, have been overstaffed in the past, as the Board has chosen to spend more than the funding formula of 22:1, in order to ensure breadth of programming for students, However, the Board’s overall budget, like every other school board in Ontario, has been reduced significantly (funding formula now at 28:1) and this has restricted our ability to provide additional staffing and be overstaffed, as we have done in past years.
Would it not have been more fiscally prudent to ensure that enrolment remains high, and to invest the funding associated with it into the required repairs at SCSS?
The funding for the replacement of the 1958 wing has already been secured, through the funds from the Ministry and money that the Board has already allocated. A decline in enrolment next year will not affect this.
For clarification, the funding associated with enrolment provides a multitude of things that are required to educate our students and keep schools running – the percentage allocated for renewal and repair is a very small percentage of the Grants for Student Needs. The province sets requirements on how the funding is to be spent and boards are not permitted to arbitrarily allocate a larger amount of the funding generated by enrolment towards building repairs. While enrolment decline does affect the funds the board receives, it also reduces some of the major costs.
For more information on how this works, please see: http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/funding/1617/2016_gsn_guide_en.pdf .
Doesn’t Option 7 increase the transitions for students with special needs by sending them to Central for Grades 7-9 and then to Northwestern for 10-12?
School staff, in collaboration with Board staff and parents/guardians work in collaboration to build transition plans for students to ensure individual student’s needs are met. Transition planning is a mandatory requirement of the individual education plan (IEP) development, and parents/guardians and students, where appropriate, are consulted in its development. Both options, (Option 4 and 7) result in transitions for students. Through consultation with families, a transition plan would be developed based on each individual child’s needs.
I’m curious if the excess capacity (492 students) at SNSS is due to the availability of spaces in the tech, music, and arts classes? ie. Are most other general classroom spaces at, or near capacity?
Thank you for your question, which may refer to the table of secondary utilization shown in the slide presentation at the Joint School Council meeting.
In answering, we need to clarify what you are asking. We believe you are asking about the On-the Ground capacity given your reference to the spaces.
OTG Definition – On-the Ground capacity is the summation of all the identified room capacities in a school building. It is an indicator of the enrolment capacity of a school building that is somewhat distinct from class size as dictated by the Ministry and or collective agreements with teachers unions. Classroom capacity is benchmarked by the Ministry and used for grant calculations and may differ from the actual number of students in any given class.
The student enrolment of a building, on a full time equivalent (FTE) basis, is then compared to the calculated OTG for the school in question, yielding the utilization, expressed as a percentage. The greater the FTE enrolment in a school, the greater the utilization; conversely, if the enrolment is much lower than the calculated capacity, a lower utilization rate is the result.
This is the information that the Ministry used to determine the spaces to be moved and filled at SNSS. We don’t think you are asking about space in existing classes (there would be spaces in many classes and various subject areas). It is not part of the Ministry’s calculation of utilization and would be an entirely separate exercise.
Timetabling classes into spaces is an entirely separate exercise and unrelated to the Ministry calculation of utilization.
Since Central will not be able to provide technology education for grade 9 students (should option 7 be decided) have you considered creating a technology space in Central as part of the renovations?
Currently we are exploring many program options, including access to technology for students at Stratford Central, should Option 7 be decided upon. We value technology and we recognize that many students select and look forward to technology courses in Grade 9. More information will be released as we work through the Transition Year and prepare for the Vision Year and beyond.
Can you please point me to the report or letter that shows how this estimate (FCI 77%) was calculated? Is it in the Ministry FCI reports? Is it a figure that was calculated by the Board?
Who exactly made the decision to demolish the 1958 wing and when was this decision made? Where is the evidence that the wing is in such dire shape that it needs to be demolished? And what about these suggestions from a second engineer on how to resolve the roof issue, locate the elevator and keep the office in its present location?
As presented May 1, the framework under which all boards operate is the Ministry directed effective and efficient use of space, with existing space required to be utilized prior to any consideration for new construction.
In terms of establishing facility condition in all public schools across the province, beginning in 2003, the Ministry began the process of using third party facility condition assessment of all public education facilities in order to obtain detailed, quantitative data. This data allows for comparison board to board and informs the Ministry regarding each board’s annual Renewal needs based on this data. Specifically, the Ministry hires independent, third party facility inspectors to conduct these reviews on an approximate 5 year basis, and posts the results by school, by board. Boards are required to update this data annually based on work completed, which provides the Ministry with ‘live’ data on each school’s condition. Expected to be included in Renewal work is both building envelope and systems, hazardous materials abatement and work on accessibility.
If we look at this data for Stratford Central specifically (2013 assessment updated annually for work completed to 2017), the building, including the 1958 wing, requires a lot of repairs. Using this data for the 1958 wing, including the costing, with the supporting engineering reports for the 1958 roof structure, the 5 year Renewal requirement of $4,629,670 was determined, with the replacement value of the 1958 wing being $5,987,696 calculated from the Ministry database of square footage and Ministry benchmark costs per square foot. The Renewal requirement divided by the Replacement value generates a Facility Condition Index of 77%. This value demonstrates the the 1958 wing is essentially considered PTR – Prohibitive to Repair – meaning it would cost more to repair the wing than replace it. By replacing space that is considered Prohibitive to Repair, the Ministry is avoiding all future Renewal costs on the space were it to be retained as existing. In order to fund such replacement work, boards need financial help from the province.
The latest correspondence seems to try to minimize the the costs and isolate them to strictly the roof replacement. This does not include all the collateral work that comes with a roof structure replacement, nor does it reflect the assessed quantification of other five year replacement costs. The suggested elevator location within the existing six level sidesplit building is not a new thought, having long been considered and discussed. The reality is that in current dollars, that option was virtually the same cost as the entrance/elevator portion of the present design, but did nothing to reduce the number of floor levels needed to be made accessible, and did so at a loss of two teaching spaces.
This decision to demolish the 1958 wing came after significant consultation with Ministry staff, Board staff and professionals (engineers, architects, etc.). This was not a decision that was made lightly, but it is a decision that has been weighing on senior staff for years. The reality is the situation is not the fault of Stratford Northwestern for having surplus space, nor the Board in seeking needed Ministry support and agreeing to their conditions, nor the Province for refusing to fund surplus space. The root issue lies in demographics – declining enrolment and population shifts. The simple fact that we have more teaching spaces than we require is not new and not unique; witness the fact that this Board has closed 25% of its elementary schools since 1998. This led to the Ministry’s approval of the wing replacement, with Ministry funding of $5.1 million (plus demolition costs) with the condition of right sizing.
The good news is that this Ministry funding, combined with Board funding allows us to maximize the opportunities for upgrading the facilities including major asbestos abatement and significant work on accessibility. In rebuilding the 1958 wing, we can align the floors of the new wing with the original 1926 section, eliminating the six story sidesplit structure. It also means that we can create a new on-ground main entrance, with an elevator accessing the reduced number of floors, as removing substantial asbestos in all corridors in the remaining building. We are pleased to finally get Ministry support and we are delighted with the designs to finally make Stratford Central not only accessible, but updated esthetically, creating a sustainable facility in the downtown core for the foreseeable future.
Can you please be more specific as to what that [breadth of programming] really means? Are students going to be offered courses that are beneficial to them?
All secondary schools are able to offer core courses, or those 12 courses that are requirements for graduation, but find themselves challenged each year to offer optional courses, or those that sit outside of the compulsory expectations. These challenges are exacerbated significantly by numbers of students. Student enrollment impacts the viability of courses, as we are funded to load courses in a prescribed fashion and the numbers and qualifications of staff in a building. By congregating the students from Stratford and area according to grade level, we can maximize the potential for a variety of course offerings that sit outside of the compulsories.
Every year there are courses that are offered at course selection time that do not run because insufficient students select them. Or, there may be more than enough students for one class of a course, but not enough to have two classes. This can happen in both the core subject areas and in optional subject areas. This problem occurs in particular with Senior Level courses. And some departments are more affected by this than others, such as Canada and World Studies (history, geography, law), Business, Computer Studies and Modern Languages. Combining the students from both schools will not guarantee that this does not happen but it will increase the chances that there will be sufficient students for several of these courses.
We will be better able to offer diverse courses that respond to differing student pathways and interests. This assumption was affirmed when we examined the 2019-20 course selections made by students at the blended SN and SC site and compared these selections with the breadth of course offerings in this current year, when the students were not congregated. This information is further confirmed through the examination and comparison of the course offerings in Stratford with those offered in other schools in our AMDSB. We are confident that through congregation of students according to grade level, that we can continue to offer enhanced programming to the students of Stratford and area.
Can you please give a more detailed explanation as to why 7/8 programming and 9-12 programming is unachievable in a given school given previous experience of this model?
The simple explanation for this is the change in student numbers and how that affects our ability to run an effective Secondary program. If the question is why Central cannot remain a 7-12 school, it is because the capacity after the renovation will be reduced from over 1000 to 829 (the Ministry’s calculation.) There are currently more than 850 Secondary students at Central. The Grade 7 and 8 classes can be as large as 30 students. If there were three classes each of Grade 7 and 8, there would be 180 fewer spaces for Grades 9-12, it would reduce the number of Secondary spaces from 829 to 649. The more Grade 7 and 8 classes there are, the lower the capacity for Secondary, which will no doubt lead to program cuts, especially for courses that currently run with only one class or run in a stacked class.
In addition, we would still be faced with the problem of which students from Secondary and which students from Elementary would be required to switch from Central to Northwestern. What mechanism would we then use to limit the number of students attending Central? What would this mean for the Elementary French Immersion program at Central, which currently comprises a total of three classes? Would it stay at Central or be moved to Northwestern?
If the question relates to why all the Grade 7 and 8 students cannot be moved to Northwestern, it is a different numbers problem. Option 4 would require at least 15 classrooms to be dedicated to the Elementary program. This will make it very difficult to provide the necessary classroom space for the Secondary program. Elementary and Secondary programs run on two distinct schedules, with Elementary running six 50 minute periods each day year long, while Secondary runs four 75 minutes periods each day in two semesters. So it is virtually impossible to share classroom space, and specialty spaces such as gyms, science labs, libraries, shops are a challenge to share as well. Adding more Secondary students to Northwestern does not pose the same challenge as the classes are all on the same schedule, allowing the timetable to maximize the use of classroom and specialty spaces.
Isn’t it possible that the concern over uncertainty of numbers is being overstated compared to the status quo?
We believe that there is justifiable concern over numbers when considering Option 4. If we implemented Option 4, all students would attend the Northwestern site for Grade 7 and 8 and then choose whether to attend Central or Northwestern for Grade 9. It could work out that the number who choose each school could work out each year; however, it could just as easily work out that either too many or too few might choose to attend Central. The uncertainty lies not only in balancing the numbers, but more importantly in choosing the means to either refuse students if too many choose one school or the other, or conversely, to force students to attend the school they did not choose. Let’s suppose, for example, that more students than we can accommodate pick Central for Grade 9 and we have to turn some down: how do we choose which ones to refuse? What criteria could we develop that would be fair to all? What is more problematic, is this would potentially be an annual challenge, not a one-time situation.
In looking at Option 4, we also considered student patterns. Historically, students choosing high school tended to stay in the school they selected for Grade 7 and 8. Lately, more students have chosen Central than Northwestern, but it has happened in the past that the reverse was true. One of our concerns in the Option 4 scenario was the possibility that after a year and a half at Northwestern (ie. at course selection time for Grade 9,) too many students might choose to stay there as they would be familiar with the school and the staff, have built friendships with peers, etc. In the first couple of years after the Transition Year, there would no doubt be strong ties to Central for students who attended there or whose siblings did. But after a few years those ties to Central may not be as strong, and students may choose to stay at Northwestern for Grade 9. This could have a very negative impact on the long term viability of Central if we were to go with Option 4.
Finally, the recent Ministry decision, if it truly becomes the number after consultations, to require a 28:1 class size average makes it all the more important for us to consider numbers. In order to staff our schools and offer the choice of courses students need and want, we will need to ensure that our class size numbers are as close to that average as possible, or many classes will have to be cut. Having all the students in a grade at the same location gives us much greater flexibility to ensure that we can provide the courses they want to take.
Where is the evidence to support the concern that too many or too few Grade 8 students may choose Central for Grade 9 if Option 4 were implemented? Currently no one knows how many students will register at any high school until mid-year. How is operating under Option 4 any different?
While it is true that we do not know for sure how many students will register at each high school until mid-year, what we do know from our history with the 7-12 schools is that students tend to stay in the school that they are in for Grade 8. We don’t know for certain that this trend would continue under Option 4, and we don’t know for certain that there would not be too few or too many Grade 8 students choosing Central for Grade 9. The uncertainty is the issue. If we adopted Option 4 and the numbers of students choosing each school for Grade 9 were very imbalanced, what remedy would we apply to decide which Grade 9 students do not get to attend the school of their choice?
Or should we let the numbers be unbalanced and face the prospect of overcrowding at one school and being significantly under capacity at the other? That is the scenario we are trying to avoid. We do not want a situation where every year we could have such an imbalance that we have to force some students to attend the school they did not choose. And trying to come up with criteria for choosing which students are forced to change will be as contentious as the seven options we are weighing right now. Some would suggest that we go with a “first come, first served” model to make the decision; however, we would like our students to weigh their course selection choices carefully and not feel pressured to decide quickly. The only other recourse would be a lottery: in that situation, some students’ program choices would be determined by chance. We would prefer that, as much as possible, students get to take the courses they desire and have chosen.
And it needs to be noted that while the numbers choosing Central have been higher in recent years, that has not always been the case.
Each school has independent administrators, schedules and course choice. How will it be if only one grade, Grade 9, is moved to Central? How does it make sense to have a high school schedule and course choice for just one grade? Where is the argument that population dictates course choice and a healthy teacher population?
Final decisions on the administrative structure have not been determined but it is likely that the number of administrators will be proportional to the number of students and administrators have the flexibility to be in either the 7-9 or the 10-12 school as most administrators are qualified in 3 of 4 or 4 of 4 divisions (primary, junior, intermediate, senior). In Option 7, Grade 9 will still be considered to be part of the high school, even though it is in a different location. Option 7 is basically a one school, two campus model. Scheduling and administration will run similarly to what we have now in the 7-12 model. As for course choice, the Grade 9 program will have basically the same program that exists now, though some adjustments will need to be made to the Technological Studies options and we are currently exploring new and innovative practices and programs. Most of the Grade 9 program consists of compulsory courses and there are not as many optional courses as in Grades 10-12. Though there will be some timetable challenges, the intent is that the teachers who teach Grade 9 could also teach some Grade 10-12 courses. Where it happens, every effort will be made to keep teacher travel between schools to a minimum.
Despite the numbers presented on May 1 that in total 800 courses have been chosen via the concurrent program, I believe strongly that SCSS students would prefer to stay students at Central than have the option of taking courses such as auto tech and cosmetology.
First of all, we need to clarify that the 800 courses were not chosen through concurrent registration and we did not make this statement. We think there is a misunderstanding. Concurrent registration means that students take a few courses at a different school than their own. We currently have a small number of students from SCSS taking classes at SNSS, and some from SNSS taking classes at SCSS: that is concurrent programming and it has run for the past 2 years in an attempt to create increased programming options for our SNSS and SCSS students. But to do so, students need to attend the other school for half a day and must travel to it over lunchtime, sacrificing social time and lunchtime club activities at their home school. Most choose not to make this sacrifice and thoughtexchange reiterated what voices had told us: this is not a popular option.
Will grade 9 students be able to take tech courses at SNSS when they are at Central in the 7, 8, 9 school? Can they take grade 10 tech courses in grade 9?
All of these questions will be answered as part of the Vision process and staff members are currently working on plans to create the best possible options.
Will school names be changed/rebranded to create new, fresh identities or maintain historic identities?
If there is a decision to proceed with Option 7, we expect there will be a rebranding.
Are you concerned that St. Mikes will be the sports school? Do you care?
We care about offering the best possible opportunities for all of our students. We will have twice as many staff members to provide extra-curricular activities during the Transition years, and new plans for the Vision years. More information will follow.
You said you will make Grade 9 sports work, but how?
We are working this out and exploring many options for the Transition and Vision years. See the response in the FAQ and watch for more information once a final decision for the Vision has been made.
The mental health of the grade 9 from rural feeder schools – is that being addressed – 1 year at a new school and then another transfer?
Yes. SN recently hosted the students currently in grade 8 in the feeder schools. There are activities in the plans to assist with the Transition for students and throughout the Vision year and beyond. Once an option is determined, there will be plans in place to support all students.
What is the sports model going to look like for Grade 9 with Option 7?
The topic of sports and extra-curricular activities is very important to many students and the question has been partially addressed in the FAQs. It will be addressed further as the Vision plans are finalized in the the coming months. There are many people working on the Vision possibilities.
If school reorganization is up to local schools, can Intermediate – Senior teachers then teach grade 7 – 9? Crossing Union boundaries need to be fixed – provincially and locally.
Union boundaries will not be addressed as part of this process.
At the May 1 meeting you did not address the concerns raised about the impact on the current Grade 7 Central students. They will transition 4 times in 4 years. You also have not explained why you are moving the Grade 9s to SCSS? What research do you have to support this model? What is your response to this research: “Given this evidence, it makes no sense to open new middle schools. In fact, policymakers should place a high priority on closing middle schools in communities with shrinking student populations.” E-brief (David R Johnson, Laurier University, 2012)
It is unfortunate that the Grade 7 students from Central will have multiple transitions. We recognize that this will be a challenge for some students, but they will at least be moving as a large group, which should help ease some of the difficulties. And we will have supports in place to deal with any anxiety that might arise from the moves.
Mr. Johnson’s study, which you have referenced and quoted, analyses the effect of two versions of middle school compared to K-8 schools. One of those versions is the Grade 7 and 8 model, which is what we currently have in Stratford and what we would have in all six of the Board’s original options for the Vision Years. Even though our Grade 7 and 8 students share a building with the 9 to 12 students, they are in their own middle school, with their own teachers running on an entirely separate schedule from the two high schools. Essentially, we have a school within a school model: Stratford Central Public School and Stratford Northwestern Public School would be included in the group Mr. Johnson calls the “standard middle school path.”
If you look at the table of EQAO data that Mr. Johnson uses, you will see that students in the Grade 7 and 8 middle schools actually perform better on all the tests he cites. Only after he adjusts for socio-economic criteria do the results become lower than K-8 results and the difference is very small, 1.7% on the Grade 9 Math Test and 0.9% on the Literacy Test. Based on this narrow margin of difference, he concludes that middle schools should be closed and that we should revert to the K-8 model.
The Toronto District School Board extensively researched the implications of grade span and grade configurations in 2011. The following is taken from the summary of their study: “The literature on grade span and school configuration informs us that there is no single model to achieve all desired goals related to what we hope to accomplish through the use of various models” (Seller, 2004, p.11). In addition to student achievement, district leadership planning for a change on grade-span configuration should also take into account “projected enrollments, transportation costs, size of schools, school goals, fiscal constraints, political tensions, geographic realities, and financial accountability… that best fit their community culture and current facilities, focusing financial resources on other means of improving academic achievement” (Dove, Pearson & Hooper, 2010, p.273).”
As for the 7-9 model, while it is true that there is no Ontario-based research for this model, Junior High Schools (Grades 7 to 9) do exist and have existed in several other provinces for many years. Alberta, which has a highly regarded education system has had Junior High School for decades. In Ontario public boards, teachers in K-8 belong to ETFO, while teachers in 9-12 are members of OSSTF. That is why K-8, 6 to 8 and 7 to 8 configurations are prevalent in elementary education.
We believe, however, that even though there will still be a “school within a school” division under Option 7, it will provide an excellent opportunity for cross-panel collaboration between the Grade 9 and Grade 7/8 teachers. And we are planning to offer opportunities for students within the two panels to work and learn together as well and we will focus on activities to promote sense of belonging and well-being.
If the 2 schools are combined, will a new name be given to the school? I think this would help foster a new identity for the students – no longer Central or Northwestern students, but something new together. Maybe having a student contest for a new school mascot would also help students feel connected to this new school.
Thank you for your questions. While your suggestion of creating something new together makes sense, we believe that we are too early in the process to make any definitive decisions on names or mascots. If Option 7 is realized, there will be rebranding for both schools.
Have you considered the health of our students and our community with regards to transportation to school under Option 7, since it denies students the choice of a school within walking or cycling distance?
Thank you for your concern. Yes, we care very much about the health of our students and we work hard to offer a range of activities to promote health and fitness. Active transportation (walking, riding a bike, etc.) to school is definitely one of those options and we thank you for noting that. The non-bus eligible distances for both boards (as we share transportation services) support the goal of walking, at a maximum of 1.6km for elementary students, which is consistent with distances stated in the Education Act. Beyond this point students may be eligible for transportation to their home school and may choose to ride a school vehicle. This may also be an opportunity for the Grade 7 and 8 students to prepare for Grade 9 when the bus eligible distance increases to 4.8 km and also supports Government of Canada recommendations for daily physical activity. Students will continue to have the ability to walk to school, while others will be bused. We are currently working with our partner – City of Stratford to maximize the efficiencies and provide opportunities for students to safely walk or to utilize other active transportation methods to get to school.
Has anyone thought about not rebuilding the wing, using the money to expand Northwestern to house all the 7&8’s and keeping Central as a 9-12?
The Ministry of Education approved Capital Priorities funding in the amount of $5,135,207.00 in response to our request for funding in order to address needed upgrades that allow us to maintain Central for the foreseeable future. Specifically, we made application to support the demolition of the 1958 wing and construction of replacement space in order to address structural issues in the wing. Ministry criteria attached to the funding approval requires that the overall space at Central be reduced by approximately 300 pupil spaces, consistent with direction to boards across the province to ‘right size’ their space.
The other challenge with moving all 7/8s to the Northwestern site is that it would not provide a clear mechanism for determining which students would attend Central for high school. We want students to have the freedom to choose their own courses in high school. This reference to having all the Grade 8 students attend Northwestern is what would occur in Option 4, and leads to the concern of how we would ensure that Central received enough students coming in to Grade 9 but not too many? If too many chose to attend Central, it could become overcrowded but if too few make that choice, it could end up under-capacity with Northwestern overcrowded.
With Grade 9s in one building and 10s in the other, how are you going to handle grade 9/10 split classes, sports, clubs etc?
Option 7, our preferred option, has grades 7-9 at Stratford Central and grades 10-12 at Stratford Northwestern, which has more specialty spaces, an important factor in meeting the needs of students as they progress through their senior high school grades.This dual campus model ensures maximum program flexibility for our students now, and in the future. We are beginning to explore the implementation possibilities for this option with our curriculum, student success and pathways teams for program and co-curricular activities.
Other schools in the board have had unique programming and class arrangements when course expectations reasonably align. All of these factors will be considered prior to this model going ahead.
What about Grade 9s who want to take a Grade 10 course?
We are examining programming options and looking at unique opportunities, which would include addressing these case-specific examples of students needing individualized programming.
Apart from the tech rooms at NW, what other reasons can the Board provide to eliminate Option 4?
Option 4 was given a great deal of consideration, but two main issues emerged, which is what led to it being discounted relative to other options. First, while the numbers might appear to work, the daily structures of Elementary and Secondary are extremely problematic. The Elementary program runs six 50 minute periods each day while Secondary has four periods of 75 minutes. The Elementary program requires a dedicated classroom for each of the home rooms. When we analyzed this scenario, it was determined that there were not enough classroom spaces, that classrooms would be spread throughout the school as result of specialty classroom placement and there would be huge challenges for access to specialty spaces such as gyms, library and cafeteria. Additionally, the numbers of elementary students and the spaces required would limit the number of secondary spaces available and could cause a decrease in the program offerings. A goal of this project was to be able to increase offerings to all of our students in both secondary schools. Option 4 will prevent this breadth and depth of program from occurring.
Secondly, Option 4 would still not provide a clear mechanism for determining which students would attend Central, in this case for high school. We want students to have the freedom to choose their own courses in high school. Since Option 4 would have all the Grade 8 students attending Northwestern, how would we ensure that Central received enough students coming in to Grade 9 but not too many? Our more recent enrolment history indicates a pattern that, once students enter grade 7/8 in one of our Stratford 7-12 schools, they tend to stay in that same building for grade 9. Likewise in this scenario, too many many chose to attend Central, it could become overcrowded but if too few make that choice, it could end up under-capacity with Northwestern overcrowded.
I was bullied in elementary school and had a choice of secondary school to avoid them. My question is how will my children avoid bullies if the bullies are all going to SNSS? How will they not be bullied at SNSS?
We wish we could say there was no bullying in our schools. We have worked hard to send messages in all schools that bullying is not acceptable and we have tried to to raise the profile on bullying and safe schools through anti-bullying campaigns, with a focus on cyber bullying, a focus on healthy relationships and the differences between conflict and bullying. Students are always encouraged to tell an administrator or report bullying to the School Resource Officer, but we realize this is difficult for students who fear retribution.
Next year, with Transition, we are gathering input about the resources needed for students to feel safe and ensuring appropriate supports are in place, to meet student needs including dealing with stress and bullying. Our goal is to create a positive experience for all students and their families, to carry on well beyond next year, supported by our professional and caring staff.
My question pertains to rural students: is the plan for them to attend “campus A” for Grade 9 then switch to “campus B” for grades 10-12?
The current organization of our rural feeder schools to the Stratford school means that, yes, for next year, rural students will attend Stratford Northwestern campus for one year and if Option 7 were to be the confirmed vision, these students would progress to Stratford Central campus. This double transition is certainly on our radar. We want to put supports in place prior to the transition, and after, to promote student belonging and well-being. We know that we will have to pay particular attention to the students impacted.
Unlike other transitions, though, where students have moved in a small group or individually, one advantage of this transition is that all of the students in the cohort will be moving together, along with some staff members. Anxiety is often caused by fear of the unknown. In this case, all students would be moving to a newly renovated campus with their friends and peers and this would be new to all incoming rural students. Many elementary students have been exposed to Stratford Northwestern over the years as the school has hosted Loud and Proud, Dance Showcase, FunTech, Tech days and other activities. While they will not all have familiarity with Stratford Northwestern, many will.
Before the larger group of students come together, we plan to invite the feeder school students in for a half day tour and lunch served by the Screaming Avocado. With the Transition year, plans are underway for more orientation activities to help all of our incoming rural students acclimate to the building and staff. We would plan similar opportunities before transitioning into a second setting.
Please help us understand why Board admin, and the Board itself, did not stand up for our students and decline the Ministry’s strings-attached dollars, or to accept the dollars and advocate for no loss of student spaces at Central. Please admit that this has the appearance of a Board so entranced by Ministry dollars that student well-being was thrown out the window.
There still seems to be confusion about the funding and purpose behind the renovation of Stratford Central. The funding from the Ministry is to address structural issues in the building that must be resolved. The most effective way to address these issues is to demolish the 1958 wing and rebuild it. The Board has allocated additional funds to address the accessibility issues at Central.
The Ministry funding policy requires school boards to fill up existing spaces in other nearby schools, Stratford Northwestern in this case. As a result, after the rebuild, Stratford Central will have a capacity of approximately 300 fewer student spaces. Consequently, the Board must find a way to reduce the student capacity at Central by that number.
The renovation and rebuild that are required to address the structural issues need to be done now. The AMDSB did not have funds to address the structural issues and accessibility, both of which are necessary at SCSS. The Board, or more specifically, Senior Staff is extremely focused on student well-being. This is the most important reason for options 1 through 6 being rejected after many, many hours of review and attempts at timetabling and space considerations.
Please admit that you planned a mega-school from the get-go, as evidenced by your “Better Together” logo unveiled before the process even began.
Simply put, this is not true. The six options that were presented were the options identified at the start of the process. It is true that two of the options were based on a one-school, two campus model but four were not and all six were given full consideration. As to the “Better Together” logo, that was developed for the transition year (2019-20) after we determined that the most practical solution was to combine the two student bodies for one year, rather than try to run a split-shift schedule with one school starting early and one running later. We heard clearly from the Focus Group, other parents and students in emails, and also many students and parents in thoughtexchange that a split day was not desirable. In hindsight, we recognize that our early release of the logo created the right impression for the transition, but gave the wrong impression about the vision and we regret that decision because of the confusion or mistrust it has caused.
Why, why are you trying to rip the very foundations of both Central and Northwestern? Both schools have a proud tradition of their schools that you just lazily sweep aside.
We respect the proud traditions of both schools and will do everything we can to preserve them. It is our hope that these traditions can be blended into both campuses and be appreciated by all.
Unless the exact same courses are offered with the exact same standard of quality, many students could find they are having to leave just because the school doesn’t have those grades, and the career path they have chosen could be interrupted or not offer a strong enough option in that particular area of study.
Based on some of the comments that have been submitted, there seems to be some confusion around course offerings. The intent of Option 7 is that all of the courses currently being offered to students in Grades 10-12 will be offered once the two student bodies are combined. In fact, students will have more choice of program than previously. The teachers and program quality should not be affected. In contrast, with a number of the other options, a significantly reduced student population in a 7-12 Central would no doubt result in program loss in 9-12.
There is one area that we will have to address in Grade 9 and that is the area of Technology Education. Stratford Central does not have the same tech facilities as Northwestern. This is an area that we are working hard to address.
After the renovation why can’t Stratford Central simply return to what it is now?
The problem is that Stratford Central’s capacity will be much smaller, approximately 300 students. To keep it as a 7-12 school, would mean a serious reduction in student numbers in all six grades. Our concern is that this would result in program reductions, specifically in the 9-12 program. Courses that currently have just enough students to run one class now might have to be cancelled or combined with other grades or streams, 9/10 or Applied/Academic for example. To keep all the programs that currently exist in the Secondary program we would likely need to remove the Elementary program from Central, which causes other challenges for both schools.
The other main challenge in keeping Central the way it is now but with reduced student numbers is determining which students and programs would need to be moved to Northwestern.
Please confirm that we will not have massive class sizes and subsequent staff loss.
Class sizes and staffing are based on our collective agreement with the local bargaining unit of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and Ministry requirements. We are required to adhere to the collective agreement and the provincial legislation. So, no, there will not be massive class sizes, unless required to staff accordingly by the new provincial government. Staff loss would occur only if there were significant drops in student enrolment, as student numbers determine staff size.
Why can’t the Board put boundaries in place for Secondary as there are for Grades 7 and 8 and enforce them as outlined in Options 1 and 2?
This would be the easiest solution for controlling student numbers but we do not feel that it is the best answer. Currently there are boundaries for the Elementary programs but not for Secondary and students are free to choose which Secondary school they wish to attend. That would need to change in order for this solution to work. Students’ program choices would then be determined by where they live and not by what programs they want to take.
We feel this is extremely problematic and not in the best interests of the students. In Option 7 all the programs offered in 10-12 would be available at the Northwestern site. In fact, the breadth of program has the potential to expand given the congregation of student numbers.
Why would you put Grade 9 with Grade 7 and 8 and remove it from Grades 10-12?
There are many opportunities for students in a Grades 7-9 school. Grade 9 students would have an abundance of leadership opportunities. Further, our Program and Student Success/Pathways departments are working on ideas that provide new options and exciting experiences for students. If you have followed the media, AMDSB has provided many FunTech and experiential opportunities for students to promote pathways, post-secondary opportunities and high school programs and supports. This would continue, and may see additional support, for this Grades 7 to 9 model.
Our preference would be to have Grades 9 to 12 together because it is more common and therefore, more comfortable for students and staff. We know that people are fearful of the unknown. The problem is numbers: the Grade 7 and 8 enrolment in the two schools is around 460 students and while it is projected to rise slightly over the next few years, it is not expected to exceed 500 even by 2030-31. After Central is renovated, the capacity will be 829, per Ministry criteria: so with only Grade 7 and 8 there, the school would be significantly under capacity.
The generation of unique opportunities would make this exciting and new for AMDSB and we are confident that with our focus on student well-being and voice, we could build a school that students are proud to be part of.
Option 4 moves all the Grade 7 and 8 students to Northwestern. If it can accommodate all the 9-12 students from both schools, why not just send all the Grade 7 and 8 students there and leave Central as a 9-12 school?
This option was given a great deal of consideration, but two main issues emerged. First, while the numbers might appear to work, the daily structures of Elementary and Secondary are extremely problematic. The Elementary program runs six 50 minute periods each day while Secondary has four periods of 75 minutes. The Elementary program requires a dedicated classroom for each of the home rooms. When we analyzed this scenario, it was determined that there were not enough classroom spaces, that classrooms would be spread throughout the school as result of specialty classroom placement and there would be huge challenges for access to specialty spaces such as gyms, library and cafeteria. Additionally, the numbers of elementary students and the spaces required would limit the number of secondary spaces available and could cause a decrease in the program offerings. A goal of this project was to be able to increase offerings to all of our students in both secondary schools. Option 4 will prevent this breadth and depth of program from occurring.
Secondly, Option 4 would still not provide a clear mechanism for determining which students would attend Central, in this case for high school. We want students to have the freedom to choose their own courses in high school. Since Option 4 would have all the Grade 8 students attending Northwestern, how would we ensure that Central received enough students coming in to Grade 9 but not too many? If too many chose to attend Central, it could become overcrowded but if too few make that choice, it could end up under-capacity with Northwestern overcrowded.
The amount of money spent on that feedback app that did not even include Option 7 is ridiculous. The parent consult process never once mentioned Option 7.
Option 7 was discussed as an option before we went to thoughtexchange and it was dismissed initially because it removes grade 9 from 10-12 and because we hoped options 1 through 6 were better overall for students, while meeting Ministry criteria. Option 7 re-emerged as a consideration in late November after thoughtexchange had concluded. Had we been seriously considering it prior to thoughtexchange being run, we would definitely have included it for consideration. Several of the six options involved students taking courses at both schools and one of the strongest responses in thoughtexchange was opposition to students being bused back and forth between the two schools. And, in fact, the concept of a separate location for Grades 7 and 8, also the idea of a 7 to 9 configuration were suggestions made in thoughtexchange.
Please admit that Thought Exchange was a very expensive sham, with the “executive summary” created to support your agenda. Clearly most users did not go through 1900 submissions, therefore only the first several hundred submissions received real consideration.
One of the biggest challenges to getting input and feedback on a complicated process like this is how to gather responses from as many people as possible. We chose to use thoughtexchange based on positive responses from other school boards that had used it and because it enabled us to provide the link to virtually anyone who wanted to respond. It would have been a huge and expensive task to gather and sort through this much response in any other way. And thoughtexchange allowed people to respond confidentially at a time and location convenient to them.
You are correct that users could not have gone through all the submissions, but thoughtexchange uses an algorithm that ensures that all comments are seen as evenly as possible. Comments that were submitted late in the process naturally received fewer ratings and some respondents clearly chose to skip over some comments rather than rate them.
It was not a perfect process but it did provide us with some very meaningful feedback. We did receive in excess of 74,000 ratings, which is significant.
What about the necessity of an accommodation review?
As you may know, the Province has imposed a moratorium on Accommodation Reviews, but the renovation and rebuilding of Central needs to go forward to address the structural issues in the building. The major reason for the delay in announcing our preferred option is that we are working on the most appropriate next steps in the process.
Why was Option 7 announced after the Open House and not before?
As indicated in the previous answer, we are working on the most appropriate process to reach a final decision. However, it had become around the time of the Open House that the consideration of another option, namely Option 7, was beginning to emerge as a real possibility. To ensure that everyone had access to accurate and the most up-to-date information, there were letters sent home to parents and information posted on the Stratford website.
We did not share the information formally at the Open House for a few reasons: one, because it would have been a distraction and we wanted to be able to focus on the TRANSITION year given that course selection and registrations are due. We wanted people to see the congregated SC and SN staffs and what we could offer before sharing officially the latest thinking. We wanted to share the option formally with staff before announcing it publicly, and the Open House needed to be the focus. We know that the timing of releasing information about Option 7 would have been difficult no matter when it was shared.
Previously answered Vision FAQ
How can AMDSB guarantee my child’s education won’t be negatively affected by this?
Students will continue to receive high quality programming throughout this project. We are optimistic about the potential for some enhanced program opportunities which may be possible with the final vision. The vision is to timetable the two schools so that students are able to take courses regardless of site, therefore opening up more choice for students.
Who will be part of the information sharing?
A committee was formed to capture input. This input and the input gathered through the thoughtexchange e-platform is being used to inform our decisions.
How will parents/students know when meetings are happening?
Information will be posted on school websites, through SchoolMessenger, and school social media platforms.
What types of things will be asked in the input gathering process?
The Ministry funding is directed at specific renovations so AMDSB is limited on how much can be done. Parents, students and community have been asked for input through thoughtexchange regarding what they wish for their students as part of the longer term vision.
Why are the renovations being done?
AMDSB has received Ministry funding to address the structural issues at SCSS, specifically to demolish the 1958 wing and rebuild, right sizing per Ministry expectations. This would reduce SCSS’ capacity by 300 spaces and utilize the excess capacity at SNSS. At the same time, improved accessibility is needed in SC. This Ministry funding augmented by some Board funds allows for the work to be done. We are currently on track with Ministry of Education expectations for construction planning.
Why now? Why wasn’t this done in the past?
For several years AMDSB explored many options, none of which were able to come to fruition. This is the best opportunity to rejuvenate and sustain the building for the long term, by combining the Ministry funding augmented with Board funding.
What is the timing for construction?
AMDSB will gather input, follow and meet Ministry processes prior to proceeding with construction. It is anticipated that work will commence late June – early July 2019.
What work is planned?
The 1958 wing will be demolished and rebuilt in a way that allows the alignment of floors with the remaining building, although rebuilding smaller, which is part of the Ministry’s criteria for the funding. The plan is to augment this funding with Board funds to address accessibility throughout the school (including an elevator and barrier free washrooms on each level) and additional renovation work in the core of the building to create a newly rejuvenated building for the benefit of our students.
Explain your reference to the Ministry criteria about building smaller.
The Ministry requires that school boards use up any empty student space before being funded to add space. That means AMDSB is required to use surplus space at Stratford Northwestern as a stipulation of funding to rebuild smaller space at Stratford Central.
So what does that look like?
Renovations are contingent on ensuring efficient use of all student spaces at both Central and Northwestern, as a result Stratford Central will have fewer student spaces after renovations. The vision is to timetable the two schools so that students are able to take courses regardless of site, therefore opening up more choice for students.
Why did you not consult BEFORE making these decisions?
The AMDSB has been working on a variety of alternatives to address SCSS accessibility and building condition for a number of years, none of which came to fruition. Crucial to the current proposal was securing Ministry funding. Once the Ministry approved the current funding request, the AMDSB was able to proceed with a plan that includes gathering input from the public. We value the input of our students, staff and community stakeholders and, in the fall of 2018, conducted a confidential input gathering platform for broad community input. That input will help with the decision making process as we plan for the best possible future education of AMDSB students.
Why did AMDSB sell off empty schools rather than keep them for this transition?
The Ministry of Education expects boards to follow the disposal process for schools once closed, and withdraws funding to heat, light, power, maintain and repair closed schools. In addition, when the AMDSB last closed schools in Stratford in 2003 it had no expectation of needing a building to be used as a holding school; some 15 years hence.
I would like to go to Central, but I go to Avon which is a feeder school for Northwestern. Which school will I be able to go to, considering Central will have a reduced capacity when the renovation is complete?
This question can not be answered until a vision decision is finalized. It is possible that borders for grades 7-8 students will be enforced to ensure that the populations are regulated at each building. It could be that when students move into Grade 9, they will have access to programming at both sites, but again, these decisions cannot be made until a decision is reached on the vision for 2020 and beyond.
Will there be enough classroom space/teachers to offer all of the programming SC currently offers?
A series of options, which include programming possibilities, are being explored for the Vision phase. It is possible that students will have the opportunity to remain and graduate from their home school, but it will depend on the final decisions, which will have implications for boundary decisions and program locations.
What type of enhanced programming will be offered when the renovations are complete and SC reopens?
We are committed to offering the best possible program to students. This questions cannot be answered until a final decision is made about the vision for 2020 and beyond. Our goals has always been to timetable the two schools so that students are able to take courses regardless of site, therefore opening up more choices for students.
How does the integrated programming work?
Communication between student service personnel, and resources are shared between the two schools to maximize access to unique course offerings at each site.
Can you guarantee that my child goes back to SC after the renovation year is complete?
This will depend on the final decisions.
Will the schools be able to offer more programming than they currently offer?
Yes, a goal is to offer more programming opportunities for all students by utilizing the facilities of both schools more effectively.
Can students continue to enrol in either school?
This will be confirmed once the program decisions are made.
How will graduation/transcripts be determined if students are taking courses from both Stratford Central and Stratford Northwestern?
Currently some students are enrolled in courses at both schools. We envision that students will continue to declare a “home school” from which they will graduate, but this will depend on the final decision for the vision.
Will families have to shoulder the additional cost of busing or cabbing students to a school farther away?
Currently students attend either school and if necessary take a bus from NWSS to SCSS or from SCSS to NWSS at no cost. This practice will continue after the Stratford Central renovation.
Why not just build a new school instead, to avoid upheaval?
A new school would cost well in excess of $30 million to build. This project did not meet Ministry of Education criteria in order to build a new school.
What is the long term capital plan for upgrading facilities at Stratford Northwestern?
All schools within the AMDSB will continue to be upgraded and updated based on needs, priority, and available funding.
When will the new SC boundaries and requirements be released? We are moving in the near future and would like to consider this.
This question will be answered after the completion of the Vision phase.
Have you considered selling the school/land as it is worth a lot of money now, buy and build somewhere else as it would be cheaper?
This option would not be possible without a Pupil Accommodation Review as per Board policy No. 15, pursuant to the Ministry of Education’s Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline (PARG) as it contemplates affecting 100% of grades 7-12 at Central. The window for completing the structural work would not accommodate the time required to conduct an ARC. There is no guarantee of the outcome of an ARC. The AMDSB would also be required to offer schools, closed by Board motion, in accordance with Regulation 444/98 to a prescribed list of parties at the fair market value before offering it to the general public. Our experience is that fair market would not generate the approximately $35 million required to construct a replacement secondary building in a new location.
Have you considered that maybe it is time to have one public high school in Stratford and get rid of the unhealthy rivalry between the two schools? This long standing “tradition” has only got worse in the last few years (as one school is seen as the “smart” school and the other school is seen as the “lesser” school). As a board you have the perfect opportunity to make one high school. When Central’s renovation is complete you could make it the 7/8 school for English and French. Parents are still concerned about their children being exposed to high school kids when they are in 7/8. Then Northwestern could be the high school for all students attending public education. This means there would be one public high school. End the stigma that Northwestern is the “dirty, stupid” school.
As noted previously, an Accommodation Review would be required, with no guarantee of the outcome. This proposed configuration also does not address the Ministry’s criteria attached to the funding which requires 90% or more utilization of both buildings. These are two unique schools in the City of Stratford, both valued by their respective communities and equally highly regarded by the AMDSB. We ask that our community partners work with us to end any unhealthy competition that may exist regarding either school.
Will all floors be accessible once renos are done?
Yes all floors will be accessible at SC once renovations are complete.
Which 300 students will be cut once the school is smaller? Why? Will current students be grandfathered so they can complete their high school careers as Rams?
To clarify, the move will involve 300 pupil spaces. This decision has not yet been made. The results of thoughtexchange, the broad information gathering process conducted in the fall of 2018, will help to define the final vision.
I have sent in my information to volunteer for consultation during the project. How do I know you received my information, and when will I hear from you?
Thank you for volunteering. Volunteers will be contacted to serve on committees when those committees are created. A Parent Focus Group was created to examine programming options put forth by the staffs of both schools.
Please clarify whether there is a plan or even discussion around amalgamating our high schools in Stratford. Mega-schools may be efficient, dollar-wise, but what a terrible thing to do to students! No, thank you!
As noted previously, an Accommodation Review would be required, with no guarantee of the outcome. This proposed configuration also does not address the Ministry’s criteria attached to the funding which requires 90% or more utilization of both buildings. These are two unique schools in the City of Stratford, both valued by their respective communities and equally highly regarded by the AMDSB.
I polled my (SCSS) classes and these are some of the questions that the students and I have:
- If we do a split day model at Northwestern and Central has the later day schedule how will we run clubs, teams, sports (as no lunch clubs and rehearsals and so late after school/work)?
- How will we accommodate transportation? (…as 80% of the students at Central walk to school.) Will there be busing for Central students to go to NWSS?
- Will students share lockers at Northwestern?
- Will SCSS be able to offer extra courses that year to use specialized spaces – for example – have use of the hydroponics lab, cosmotology room, tech/shop labs, Screaming Avodcado?
- Can Central use the greenhouse that is used only for storage this year at NWSS?
- What happens to the gifted program at NWSS – change space or hours?
- Will the length of the classes remain the same?
- **Why tear down the English, 7/8 wing? Why can we not build onto it parallel to add elevator and increase # of classrooms and specialized spaces (such as a large robotics lab)? and then build one common roof for new and old wing?
- Students are very concerned about impact of hours on after school jobs.
- **What happens to the shop and kitchens? They NEED TO EXIST AT CENTRAL – many projects are created there continually that add to the school – from benches and tables for the halls, to repairs, to building sets for our many theatre productions. Cooking is a very important part of social sciences classes and the kitchens are used for student free lunch club, soup club, preparing food for parents nights and open houses and events…. These are very well used essential spaces for the school environment.
* I believe that we need to have an essentials course for all students in Ontario and that it will be created – a course that teaches basic repairs – how to use a drill and screw driver, to how to replace a button, to how to change a tire, to basic nutrition and cooking, to financial literacy and finance basics for life. The shop and kitchens are essential to this for all – and currently for L level courses offered at this school.
Thanks to you and your students for your thoughts.
Several of these questions have been answered previously. Some of these questions are being worked on now that the plans for the Transition Year are underway.
The response “this will be answered after phase 1” is really frustrating. Some of these questions need to be answered now and there is no reason to wait. Why offer to answer people’s questions if you’re just going to put them off? Obviously I’m not referring to the questions that still need consultation, but certainly you can tell us which 300 kids are going to be cut from the school or whether existing Central students will be grandfathered to finish their high school careers in the school they love?
This project is complex and will involve input from staff, students, parents and families. Solutions and processes are determined using the input gathering process which takes time. When construction is finished, SNSS will house more students than SCSS. Borders for students entering Grade 7 may have to be established as a result.
Option 1 and 2 with regards to Central and Northwestern – are they not identical?
The Stratford Schools landing page (portion of the Board website) provides a description which differentiates each of the options, one from another. In summary, Option One sees both schools continuing as grades 7-12 and relies on boundary changes and concurrent registrations to shift students from SCSS to SNSS. Option Two also has both schools continue as grades 7-12 with boundary changes, concurrent registrations and program shifts to move students from SCSS to SNSS.
With the logo “Better Together,” are we to assume that the Board is making a statement about the outcome they anticipate?
Can you speak further as to *why* this meshing of the two schools would be at all necessary? Would a boundary change not accomplish the same goal?
The “one mega school” idea is not only completely unappealing in terms of community (ie. the smaller schools foster a much greater sense of community when teachers know students), but seems a logistical and scheduling nightmare. The bundling of grade 7/8 students in the high schools already reduces opportunities for playing sports and being involved in school plays (instead of competing for a spot with 30 or so kids from your elementary school, you’re now competing against hundreds for the same number of spots), so a mega-school would have the same effect for high school athletes and arts students. Please put students’ quality of life above whatever organizational needs seem to be prompting this somewhat baffling initiative.
No, sorry, the “Better Together” logo is meant to identify the Transition Year when students from SCSS will be accommodated at the Northwestern site, with some use of satellite spaces such as the YMCA.
Senior Administration has thoroughly analyzed 6 possible options, which required significant analysis to determine feasibility. The task is very complex as we have taken into consideration the needs and well-being of all students in all pathways, profiles of students (students with special needs international, newcomers, LGBQT, students at risk, etc.), extracurricular activities, teams, what our buildings can offer, available space, ability to timetable, and several other factors.
In addition, the electronic input-gathering platform thoughtexchange was used to capture broad-based confidential input from all stakeholders, as we want to hear all voices.
At the parent council meeting at Central recently, one of the parents asked a question about who will be making the final decision – trustees or others. The answer was given that it would be senior admin at the board. The parent then asked if we could add this question and answer to the FAQs. Please fix it up as needed and include it. Thank you.
Senior Administration will be making the final decision, based on a number of criteria outlined on the Stratford Schools landing page (portion of the Board website) pursuant to the principles also articulated on this site.