AMDSB releases Long-Term Accommodation plan, addressing influx in elementary attendance

Superintendent Cheri Carter provided an overview of the recently released Long-Term Accommodation Plan to Avon Maitland trustees at this week’s board meeting.

Carter described the plan as a snapshot of their district from the lens of student accommodation. Carter says the plan confirmed what they’ve known for some time, which is that they have some areas of growth that have to be addressed, particularly the Stratford and Listowel areas, and they might have to make some boundary adjustments in the future.

Carter said they have some schools with declining enrolment, but while that used to be the case in a region, it’s more the case of one or two schools within a region.

“Same thing on the growth side,” said Carter. “We have a couple of schools in one regions that are growing, so another growth area is Brookside Public School which is one of our more northern schools, north of Goderich and it has had some growth and is expected to continue to grow.”

Carter said it’s not the way it was 10-15 years ago when enrolment was declining in all of their schools, but they do have some challenges in accommodating the increase in students.

Carter said they have three options and there are rules and guidelines involved in their decisions.

“The first recommendation is a formal elementary attendance area review in Stratford and area and something that we will be coming to trustees to ask for their permission to proceed with that in September,” she said. “Because of the number of schools impacted, it would fall within that formal boundary review.”

She adds a full on accommodation review comes into play when they’re considering actually closing a school and that is definitely not on the table at this point.

“We’re looking at a, we call it a secondary feeder school adjustment,” Carter explained. “A lot of our elementary schools in some areas are split, so an elementary student body will go between two secondary schools.”

Carter said dealing with an increasing enrolment is a much better situation for the board than to be struggling with declining enrolment, but the challenge remains finding a way to accommodate those additional students, and that’s a much better situation for the parents, as well. Carter also pointed out the communities involved will be part of the conversation around options staff is considering and then their recommendation has to be presented to the trustees before any decisions are made.

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