Community members lobby to save rural schools in PEC

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

PICTON -“But I don’t see any engagement of students.”
Signs were held high as frustrated parents and students sounded off against proposed school closures in the county.
Tim Johnson/Concerned Parent:
“These are people. This isn’t bricks and mortar. We have to recognize that there are students that are already spending huge amounts of time that will be bussed further.”
Several rural schools are at risk of closure… Sophiasburgh Central, Pinecrest Memorial and Queen Elizabeth. Students from those 3 elementary schools would be relocated into Prince Edward Collegiate in Picton.
Heather Senoran:
“Here at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute, there’s about 530 high school students BUT there’s room from about 1200 in total — being at only 44 percent capacity, the school board says it’s large enough to fit students from kindergarten to grade 12.”
CML Snider and Kente Public Schools are also on the chopping block — with plans to move students into a newly built school in Wellington, in 2020.
The concept not welcomed by many community members… in favour of keeping rural schools open.
Todd Foster/Concerned Parent:
“Really devastated to be losing our rural schools. Rural schools are the hubs or our community — without them, our community folds.”
Tim Johnson:
“That means they’re going to make trade-offs around school programming, special needs, athletic resources and other things.”
Barbara Foster/ Former Teacher:
“And It’s emotional. But also as an educator and a parent and grandparent. I have seen the benefits of rural Ontario.”
This is the first of two public meetings to discuss the shuttering of 5 County schools which the school board says is the result of declining enrolment, aging facilities, surplus space and a reduction in education funding.
Mandy Savery-Whiteway/Director of Education:
“It means that you have to begin to look at what are the options in front of us. The Accommodation Review Process…it’s the way we do that. It’s the way we look at it. We gather feedback and input… consider all of that and come back with a final recommendation.”
Which could happen sometime this spring.
If the proposal goes ahead Queen E and Pinecrest students would be sent to Prince Edward Collegiate as early as this fall with Sophiasburgh Central following suit in 2018.

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