Sale of school good news for community
The halls of Q u e e n s w o o d Public School, once filled with little feet and the exuberance of youth, will not sit quiet for very long.
After being closed for a year, the former OttawaCarleton District School Board’s former facility will swing its door open to continue offering children the tools they need to succeed in life. Instead of public school board children roaming the halls, youngsters from the French Catholic school board will make their mark on a building that served area youth for 39 years before community members bid adieu to the school in June, 2008.
The fate of Queenswood Public was tied directly to the community. A mature neighbourhood, Queenswood Heights saw a drop in elementaryaged children. As such, the area couldn’t support two local elementary schools.After a long and arduous process that included public consultations with community members and parents, the public board decided to close the JK-6 Queenswood Public and shift most of the students to neighbouring Dunning-Foubert, which offers a JK-8 program.
The purpose behind the move was to create stability and viability, boosting program offerings for all students. While split grade classes still exist, the infamous triple-split grade classes have vanished thanks with the boost in DunningFoubert’s enrolment.
According to Orléans-Cumberland OCDSB trustee John Shea, whose area included both schools, the switch from Queenswood Public to Dunning-Foubert has gone well. With one successful year of transition under the belt, there’s little doubt the combined schools population at Dunning-Foubert will thrive and a stronger school with better programming will emerge.
The building and abundant greenspace at the old school, however, left some cause for concern. A hub of community activity, as any school is, the fate of the property would directly impact the neighbourhood. Residents were fortunate, though, that two public entities had expressed interest in the facility early on, meaning it was unlikely from the start a developer would swoop in and redefine the landscape.
Orléans Coun. Bob Monette’s office had indicated the city had an interest in acquiring the property to turn it into a community hub. He spent months organizing non-profit groups in anticipation of creating a one-stop social network for area residents.
While plans to bring local groups like SKETCH Orléans, the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre and the Orléans Multicultural Association under one roof were foiled, the ultimate outcome is still a boon for the community.
Under a different name, the facility will continue to operate as a school and, as such, will still be a hub for community activity. The gym, playground and park land will remain accessible. And over 200 students will benefit from an improved learning facility.
In the end, the sale is nothing but good news for a community that might have lost a school, but gained another in its place.