Potential changes to our schools

Potential changes to our schools

JH Putman / Woodroffe HS Families: Did you Know??

  • The OCDSB (School Board) is looking to make some changes to our schools:
    • Filling vacant spots within the board
    • Reducing transitions (eliminate middle school)
    • Grouping together larger cohorts of similar students
  • For Putman / Woodroffe PS / Agincourt / Pinecrest / Severn this means proposals to:
    • Closing Putman
    • Moving all English students to Pinecrest or Severn
    • Making Agincourt and Woodroffe Ave PS Kindergarten to Grade 8 Schools
    • Changes to be in effect September 2017
  • They are following the trend to add the grade 7 and 8’s to the high schools.
    • They had done this to Longfields-Davidson High School. However, the grade introductions were staggered
    • When additions were constructed, there were about 20 portables on school property, but were able to house them because they had the land
    • The grade 7s and 8s are being moved to existing high schools
    • Woodroffe High School cannot handle additions for grade 7 and 8s due to physical and land limitations
  • The Catholic School Board has moved to this model with the exception of Frank Ryan and St Patrick’s Intermediate school – WHY?
  • There are many problems with this plan including:
    • Significant overcrowding at Agincourt and Woodroffe PS in the short term
    • Ongoing overcrowding at Agincourt – I think 1/3 of the school population is JK, and growing
    • Agincourt was built only to house grades Kindergarten to grade 6
    • Increased traffic – traffic on Agincourt in the mornings and afternoons are already horrible, but construction on Navaho Dr will add to that
      • Navaho Dr will be narrowed as a sidewalk will be added to the school side of the street, including a traffic calming corner (?)
    • Not enough physical space and land space to put new additions
      • There are already 8 portables at Agincourt -2 are being used, 1 or 2 are for teachers, the rest are being used for storage
      • Agincourt property backs onto city property, the only way they can add is up
      • They have taken away place space to add additional parking space
      • Agincourt parents for the past 3 years have been fundraising for a “Greenspace

Play” area but it has since been put on hold because of the possible closure

  • Long term significant population loss at Woodroffe PS
  • Splitting up the 7-8 peer group will lead to reduce program offerings (reduced size of peer group leads to reduced programs as per board) Samples of some programs that could be impacted:
    • Band / Music Program – there will not be sufficient peer size or the physical space to accommodate the existing band programs. Instruments would need to be split, additional teaching resources would be required
    • Science Labs – There are no existing science labs in Woodroffe / Agincourt schools to support the science programs
    • Technology – Putman recently received a grant from Best Buy to increase technology in support of robotics learning. These resources would need to be split across schools and may not be easily divided.
    • Transitional Resources – Physical resources used to assist these children in learning the ins and outs of high school will not be available in the short term including lockers, ease of switching classrooms between ‘periods’, cafeteria. Grade 9 will therefore become incredibly scary for many of these kids and will put them at a disadvantage when entering amongst peer groups who have received the proper middle school model & teachings. (regardless of whether or not the experience was received in a separate building)
    • Clubs and sports teams – JH Putman currently has over 40 available clubs and sports teams for its students to select from. New clubs are constantly being added with a requirement of 10 interested kids + 1 teacher support.   Dividing up the peer group will make it challenging to keep any of these clubs that hit lower participation numbers – typically these clubs attract more at risk youth.
    • Physical Education – the gym spaces at Agincourt are currently overcrowded and are too small to support kids in the 6-8 age range. As is – daily physical activity programs at Agincourt have been reduced to twice a week in order to ensure equalized gym time.
  • Increased potential for families to be split across multiple schools (no English programs at Woodroffe or Agincourt, no French program at Pinecrest)
  • Lack of physical resources and space exist for immediate transition (fall 2017)
  • Increased bus times – these particular boundary changes will result in increased bus times, some kids are already on the bus for over an hour a day.
  • Desire to eliminate middle schools is based on current trends only that point to increased performance. Several reports exist that contradict this trend.
  • The elementary/middle school sytem works in this neighbourhood

At the last ARC committee meeting, board staff stated that they are strongly considering a revision to the plan that would address all of our concerns. This revision would include:

– Delaying any move from Putman to Agincourt until an addition to Agincourt is ready to be occupied, and
– Keeping the English program in place at both schools until the move occurs.

This approach deals with the overcrowding and physical resource concerns we have identified at Agincourt but DOES NOT clearly address any concerns regarding loss of programming and opportunities due to reduced peer group size or speak to construction needs for Woodroffe Ave PS families.  In addition it is still unclear whether or not the original proposal is still on the table

At this point we need to focus on influencing the planning staff to:

–          Address any concerns regarding reduced programming

–          Continue to develop proposed alternative solutions to the final plan

–          Ensure that a version of this (or another cohesive solution meeting our children’s needs) is included in the final plan,

  • What You Can Do
    • If you have an opinion regarding these changes it is important to have your voice heard! The board has not yet prepared final recommendations and the Trustees have not yet voted – these are still proposals.  To have your voice heard:
      • Contact saveputman@gmail.com to receive email updates and reminders
      • Contact westernareareview@ocdsb.ca
      • Attend Committee of the Whole board meetings. If possible – present as a delegate to voice your opinions to the Trustees (Anita Olsen-Harper  for Agincourt and Putman, Theresa Kavanaugh for Woodroffe HS) before they vote
      • Attend Western Area Review public board meetings
      • Email your MPP and your Trustee
      • Hang a poster in your window