LTE: Are school closure positions political or logical?

Let me ask you an honest question. If you were a politician (actually a school board trustee) wanting to get re-elected and were forced to make a decision about closing one of two schools which school would you choose, the one with more students or the one with less?

On the surface the answer may seem easy and logical, the one with less students. But remember how I started, “If you were a politician wanting to get re-elected” and so perhaps there is more to the story.

Let me back track a bit, your Council has been invited by the UCDSB Community Planning and Partnerships Committee to a meeting tomorrow to learn more about the UCDSB 2016-17 Pupil Accommodation Review which involves the possible closure of Sweet’s Corners Elementary but we have been asked to basically sit and do not speak. Specifically the invitation notes, “… this meeting is being organized for the purposes of staff. Elected members of your organization that choose to attend are kindly asked to act as observers only.”

The last time I checked the ballots from two years ago I am pretty sure it was our Council members who were elected to represent you and not our staff and so when I read this I asked myself what are they afraid of and so I did some digging and yes it is true, South Crosby Public School, where our students would be bussed to, if Sweet’s does close has more students but that is where the logic ends. Here are the facts:

Total FTE                41.3 (Sweet’s)           42.4 (South Crosby)

In other words there is less staff required to run Sweet’s than South Crosby.

Current Enrolment            116 (Sweet’s)           158 (South Crosby)
School Capacity                  337 (Sweet’s)           253 (South Crosby)
Surplus Student Spaces    221 (Sweet’s)           95 (South Crosby)

In other words, moving 116 students from Sweet’s to South Crosby will put the school over capacity at today’s numbers while Sweet’s has the capacity to absorb all of the students from South Crosby with no impact on school capacity.

Age of school                                 43 (Sweet’s)                52 (South Crosby)
PER SQ. M. UTILITY COSTS    $20.60 (Sweet’s)       $23.53 (South Crosby)
COMMUNITY USE – HOURS    201.25 (Sweet’s)        85.50 (South Crosby)

In other words, Sweet’s is a younger school that costs less to operate and is utilized more than 200% by the public as compared to South Crosby.

Size of School Site:             15.8 Hectares (Sweet’s)      3 Hectares (South Crosby)
Building Area:                     2882.4 Sq. m. (Sweet’s)    2196.2 Sq. m (South Crosby)
Regular Classrooms:          13 (Sweet’s)                          11 (South Crosby)

In other words there are more classrooms at Sweet’s, the building is large and the property the school sits on is perfect for expansion now or in the future

Outdoor Track            Yes (Sweet’s)       No (South Crosby)

And so when the math does not make sense and I have been asked to sit quietly and do not speak I suspect there is something we are not supposed to see and if we do we are not supposed to talk about it, leaving me to wonder again, are the decisions being considered, political or logical?

John Paul Jackson
Councillor
Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

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