Riverside South residents petitioning Queen’s Park to fund new high school
Riverside South residents are stepping up the pressure on the province to build a new public high school in their community.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has made a new school in the fast-growing neighbourhood one of its priorities, but the board needs the OK from the province to pay for it.
Parents have started a petition that they hope will convince the Progressive Conservative government to commit the money.
“The board has a very compelling business case as to why we need a high school in Riverside South, but ultimately the decision about the funding to build a school rests with the province,” said Laurie Rogers, who has three daughters at Steve Maclean Public School on Spratt Road.
“The board owns a site that is development ready, but their hands are tied until they get the funding.”
The closest high schools are Longfields-Davidson Heights and John McCrae in Barrhaven, but both are already bulging at the seams with students and expected to get even more crowded as Barrhaven’s building boom continues. That means Riverside South students face a 10-kilometre bus ride to Merivale High School or a 20-kilometre ride to South Carleton High School in Richmond.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard great things about South Carleton and Merivale, but people in the neighbourhood want their kids to go to school locally and not have to sit on a bus for so long,” Rogers said.
“And, obviously, access to extracurricular activities is challenging when your kids are going to school so far away.”
With no local public high school, many parents have chosen to send their kids to the Catholic St. Francis Xavier High School on Spratt Road near Limebank Road, she said.
The public board projects South Riverside to quadruple in size from its current 5,600 homes to more than 20,000 homes in the coming decade.
“They’re constantly building. It’s been exponential,” said Jennifer Jennekens, trustee for the area. “There’s no question that there is a need. Hopefully, this petition will let the Ministry of Education see that we mean business.”
The group is planning a petition blitz on Saturday and Sunday at Moncion’s Independent Grocer on River Road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The petition can also be downloaded at riversidesouth.org/petition.
The board has earmarked a parcel of land on the southeast corner of Spratt and Earl Armstrong roads for the new school.
Progressive Conservative MPP Goldie Ghamari, who represents the Carleton riding, has agreed to present the petition at Queen’s Park when the legislature begins its spring session, Rogers said.
Laurie Rogers — with daughters Jillian, 4, Chelsea, 7, and Rachel, 10 — and other Riverside South parents are petitioning the provincial government to fund a new public high school in their area.