No split sched­ule for com­bined schools

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY BRIDGE STAFF RE­PORTER [email protected]­

The up­com­ing tran­si­tional year for a pair of Strat­ford high schools is be­gin­ning to take shape.

Avon Mait­land school board of­fi­cials have de­cided to of­fer a sin­gle course cal­en­dar for both Cen­tral and North­west­ern stu­dents as they tem­po­rar­ily share the lat­ter’s fa­cil­ity start­ing in Septem­ber 2019. Split-day sched­ul­ing was ini­tially con­sid­ered, but ul­ti­mately dis­carded as an op­tion due to over­whelm­ing feed­back from the pub­lic.

“Peo­ple did not want us to split the day in half as was done in other school boards,” school board su­per­in­ten­dent Jodie Baker said Thurs­day. “Strongly they were not in favour of do­ing that. They were wor­ried about part-time jobs and the length­en­ing of the school day and a num­ber of con­cerns.”

As a re­sult, ad­di­tional porta­bles and satel­lite spa­ces, such as the Strat­ford YMCA, are be­ing con­sid­ered to ac­com­mo­date a stu­dent body that will be dou­bling in size.

“We’re ex­cited about that be­cause we think it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote the YMCA and healthy life­style choice in our com­mu­ni­ties,” Baker said.

Stu­dents in grades 7-12 will be amal­ga­mated for the 2019-20 school year while a multi-mil­lion­dol­lar ren­o­va­tion project is ex­e­cuted at Cen­tral. An out­dated wing – con­structed in 1958 – will be torn down and re­built on the same level as other parts of the build­ing, leav­ing the of­fice area more ac­ces­si­ble. An el­e­va­tor will be in­stalled, too. The prov­ince has promised more than $5 mil­lion to help pay for the project, and the school board is also con­tribut­ing re­serves and cap­i­tal fund­ing.

As for the tran­si­tion pe­riod, pub­lic meet­ings and an on­line me­dia plat­form were used to garner in­put from staff, stu­dents, par­ents and the gen­eral pub­lic.

“They could re­spond to the gen­eral ques­tion that we asked of them and they could rate other peo­ple’s thoughts,” Baker said.

A steer­ing com­mit­tee is over­see­ing other de­tails such as locker space, trans­porta­tion, clubs, and sports teams, the board said. The im­pact on staff is “still be­ing worked out” based on course se­lec­tion, Baker said. “Staffing is driven by – in many cases – what the stu­dents select in sec­ondary,” she said. “We’re still go­ing to have to look at all those things and what that means.”

There are cur­rently about 1,000 stu­dents at North­west­ern and 1,100 at Cen­tral, when factoring in fifth-year and co-op stu­dents, Baker said.


Strat­ford Cen­tral Sec­ondary School, shown here on Thurs­day, will be tem­po­rar­ily closed dur­ing the next school year for a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion.

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