Slic­ing school pro­grams strikes sour note

Par­ents fight Catholic board de­ci­sion

The Sault Star - - FRONT PAGE - JEN­NIFER HAMIL­TON-MCCHARLES

NORTH BAY — Par­ents and stu­dents at Mother St. Bride are fight­ing back against their school board’s de­ci­sion to re­move mu­sic, de­sign and tech­nol­ogy and fam­ily stud­ies from their el­e­men­tary school.

Ac­cord­ing to par­ents whose chil­dren at­tend MSB and school staff, the pro­grams are slated to be moved to St. Hu­bert School by July 1.

The move is to make room for a day care.

Ac­cord­ing to an email sent to MSB staff in March, the new day care will be lo­cated in the de­sign and tech­nol­ogy class­room.

The prov­ince an­nounced ear­lier this year that two schools within the Nipiss­ing Parry Sound Catholic Dis­trict School Board – St. Fran­cis and Mother St. Bride will ac­com­mo­date 122 new child care spa­ces. Along with those spa­ces, 73 at St. Fran­cis and 49 at MSB, the prov­ince is pro­vid­ing $3.3 mil­lion in fund­ing.

The change will force MSB stu­dents to travel by bus to St. Hu­bert to par­tic­i­pate in the spe­cial­ity pro­grams.

Lau­rie Mur­ray, the mother of a Grade 6 stu­dent at MSB, said she doesn’t un­der­stand the rea­son­ing be­hind mov­ing a mu­sic pro­gram that has been in an el­e­men­tary school for more than 40 years to an­other school.

“My big­gest con­cern is that MSB is known for their mu­sic pro­gram – and now they’re kick­ing our school pro­gram out to make room for a day­care. They’re tak­ing away from our kids to make a buck. I don’t agree with tak­ing away pro­gram­ming from a school.”

She said mu­sic has been a life­line for her daugh­ter who pre­vi­ously had no pas­sion for any­thing.

“This mu­sic pro­gram has helped my child, her self es­teem has climbed, her math has im­proved and it’s all linked to mu­sic. She has flour­ished. She has not faked sick once. When I had to keep her home be­cause she wasn’t feel­ing well she was dev­as­tated, be­cause she wanted to take the trum­pet out for the week­end,” Mur­ray said.

“She cares about some­thing now. I know mu­sic has helped so many stu­dents - kids who don’t par­tic­i­pate in any­thing, the shy kids and the trou­bled kids are the ones who are ben­e­fit­ing,” she said.

“Mu­sic re­leases a lot of anx­i­ety. There are stu­dents from other schools who come to MSB to play in the band. You can’t tell me these pro­grams at this school don’t have an im­pact.”

The mother of one said the mu­sic class ex­tends way be­yond the class­room.

Mur­ray said it’s not un­com­mon to see stu­dents walk­ing out of school on a Fri­day af­ter­noon car­ry­ing their mu­si­cal in­stru­ments so they can prac­tice over the week­end.

She ques­tions what will hap­pen when the pro­gram is moved and MSB stu­dents no longer have the same ac­cess to the in­stru­ments.

“It’s more than just not hav­ing the pro­grams in our school. The band per­forms at award cer­e­monies, as­sem­blies and other school events. Af­ter the move the band will not be there,” Mur­ray said.

“Any func­tions where the band, drum­ming or choir group per­form the turnout is phe­nom­e­nal.”

Kate Bon­dett, of the Nipiss­ing Parry Sound Catholic Dis­trict School Board, said the pro­posed lay­out at Mother St. Bride School is yet to be fi­nal­ized, how­ever, to ac­com­mo­date the child-care cen­tre, the De­sign and Tech­nol­ogy, In­stru­men­tal Mu­sic and Fam­ily Stud­ies pro­grams will be re­lo­cated to­gether to St. Hu­bert School for the 2018-19 school year.

She said the Nipiss­ing-Parry Sound Catholic Dis­trict School Board has a rich history of pro­vid­ing these spe­cial­ity pro­grams to all of our Grade 7 and 8 stu­dents and will con­tinue to of­fer these pro­grams.

“Our pro­grams pro­vide many au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for our stu­dents which also serve to open many pos­si­ble fu­ture ca­reer path­ways. St. Hu­bert School has housed these pro­grams in the past and has ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties to ac­com­mo­date them go­ing for­ward.”

Bon­dett said a re­quest for cap­i­tal fund­ing was sub­mit­ted jointly with Dis­trict of Nipiss­ing So­cial Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion Board to sup­port the cre­ation of two new child care fa­cil­i­ties, one of which would in­clude the ren­o­va­tion of four class­rooms to ac­com­mo­date 49 new child care spa­ces at Mother St. Bride School.

She said through col­lab­o­ra­tive plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion with the Dis­trict of Nipiss­ing So­cial Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion Board (DNSSAB), it was de­ter­mined that there was a de­mand for child care spa­ces in the West Fer­ris and down­town area of the City of North Bay.

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