Here you will find responses to questions regarding the Vision phase of the project.
We have attempted to sort questions that we believe relate to the final outcome into this Vision category. Senior Administration has analyzed and come up with 6 possible options, which require further analysis to determine feasibility. This is a very complex task, as we need to take into consideration the needs of all kids in all pathways, profiles of students (international, refugee, LGBQT, students with learning disabilities, etc.) extracurricular activities, teams, what our buildings can offer, etc. Please refer to the main Stratford Project page for more information.
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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:
1) 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)?
2) 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?
3) Will students share lockers at Northwestern?
4) 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?
5) Can Central use the greenhouse that is used only for storage this year at NWSS?
6) What happens to the gifted program at NWSS – change space or hours?
7) Will the length of the classes remain the same?
8) **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?
8) Students are very concerned about impact of hours on after school jobs.
9) **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.
Additionally, 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.