DSBN Trustees concluded the West Niagara Accommodation Review by approving the construction of a new secondary school. The build will result in the closures of Grimsby Secondary (GSS), Beamsville District (BDSS), and South Lincoln High School (SLHS). The yet-to-be-named school is contingent on Ministry approval and funding. Assuming approval is granted in a timely fashion, the school will open in September, 2020.
“Decisions of this nature are never easy,” said Dale Robinson, DSBN Chair. “Trustees felt this was the right direction to ensure students receive the best possible program in a first-rate facility. A school with a larger student population will be able to offer students more course options, more athletic opportunities, and more extra-curricular clubs for students to pursue their interests.”
Trustees’ decision will be implemented in two distinct phases. South Lincoln High School will close as of June 30, 2017. Current South Lincoln students living in the College Street and Caistor Central catchment area will transition to Grimsby Secondary in September. Current SLHS students living in the Gainsborough Public School catchment area will have the choice of joining either the E.L. Crossley or Grimsby Secondary families. Boundaries will not change for students accessing Extended French, Specialized School to Work, or Specialized School to Community programming prior to the opening of the new school.
"Closing a school is a tremendously hard decision, and trustees take that decision very seriously. We decided that this was the best way to ensure students achieve success. Based on the feedback that I heard from South Lincoln students I felt that amending the motion to give all South Lincoln students the opportunity to attend the same school together was an important aspect of addressing their needs. We will support a successful transition for all students to ensure they are successful," said Diane Chase, Trustee for West Lincoln/Wainfleet.
Students at Beamsville and Grimsby will continue attending their respective schools until the new school is complete. Both BDSS and GSS are slated to be closed at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
The location for the proposed school has yet to be determined. “Now that the decision is made, the DSBN will begin looking for a suitable location for our newest school build. We are committed to finding a location that is centrally located to ensure it is as equally accessible to all communities as possible,” said Cheryl Keddy-Scott, Trustee for Grimsby/Lincoln.
The Accommodation Review process is an important tool to combat the impacts of declining enrolment. The Board receives no funding for surplus space, yet must continue to pay for repairs, heating, water, and hydro for oftentimes half-empty buildings. As enrolment declines in schools, there is a corresponding negative effect on programming, as smaller schools cannot offer the same range of courses a larger school can. The decision in the West Niagara review will reduce 1,100 surplus spaces in the DSBN by September 2020.
DSBN Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki offered his thanks to all participants for the time and effort they dedicated to this process. “Staff conducted a review that was thorough, transparent, and fair. This allowed Trustees to hear and consider a diverse mix of viewpoints before arriving at their decision.”