May 25, 2011

Supporting Long Term Student Success

Trustees of the District School Board of Niagara are taking a comprehensive, long-term look at how to best support student success through revitalizing the region’s public schools. Trustees took an important step forward in this process by receiving the Facility Planning Report at the May 24 board meeting.

“Declining enrolment is the most challenging issue facing school boards in Ontario today,” said Kevin Maves, Chair of the Board. “As student populations decline it becomes more and more difficult to offer educational programs that meet the needs of today’s youth. Our situation is further compounded by having a system with some of the oldest school buildings in Ontario.”

“As a result, it is essential that the Board examines creative solutions that will result in enhanced educational opportunities for students,” added Maves.

The Facilities Planning Report outlines a measured, strategic approach to investigate opportunities to improve the educational experience for students. Potential strategies to reduce surplus spaces and address aging buildings may include consolidating some schools, renovating existing buildings and even building new schools.

Chair Maves pointed to Crossroads Public School in Niagara-on-the-Lake as an example of the dynamic learning environments that can be created through a thorough accommodation review of existing school buildings. “At Crossroads, students will have access to the latest learning technologies in a building that supports ecological literacy by incorporating numerous environmentally sustainable features. It will be a source of pride for students, their families and the Town for years to come,” said Maves. Crossroads, which will serve the Col. John Butler and Virgil school communities, is currently under construction and will open its doors to students in September, 2011.

Based on the recommendations included in the report, Trustees voted to initiate two accommodation reviews beginning in September, 2011. The two reviews will examine Fort Erie elementary schools as well as secondary schools in central and south St. Catharines and Thorold. Public consultation and input are integral components of the accommodation review process.