Public School Board To Close Several Windsor-Essex Elementary Schools (VIDEO)
Trustees at the Greater Essex County District School Board have voted to close two public schools in east Windsor and one school in Leamington.
Windsor's Eastwood and Parkview Public Schools, and Leamington's Mill Street Public School will close pending approval from the Ministry of Education.
The board's plan is to build a new elementary school to consolidate both east Windsor schools.
Community members did not attend the first meeting held at the board's office on Park St. W. to determine the fate of Eastwood and Parkview Thursday.
Board chair Kim McKinely says the lack of opposition shows the community is behind a new facility in east Windsor.
"I didn't hear opposition, there might have been concerns about programs that would still be in a new school but I wasn't seeing any opposition and you can clearly tell by our meeting tonight," she said.
In addition, the board will amend its boundaries for Forest Glade Public School.
As of September 2017, students living north of the E.C Row, south of Wildwood Dr. (south side), east of Pineview Cr. and west of Soulliere Dr. will become part of the Parkview Public School boundary.
A meeting held later in the evening at Leamington District Secondary School gave Gore Hill Public School a reprieve, but there would be no saving Mill Street Public School.
Board trustees made the decision to close the school despite some opposition to the move.
Parent Erin Visser and several Mill Street students made an emotional plea to the board.
Visser admitted she knew what the outcome would be, but says she respects the boards decision.
"I'm going to do everything I can to help my kids understand what's going on, to understand that they will get to stay with some of their friends," says Visser. "I'm very happy to hear they will be splitting the staff between the other schools."
Board vice-chair Ron Le Clair says it's a tough decision to close a school, but sometimes it has to be done.
"These processes are not fun for anyone that's involved, including the trustees," he says. "It's unfortunate when schools close, but we're confident students will engage in their new schools. We have a great group of teachers that will help the process run smoothly."
A new french immersion program has been approved to supplement Gore Hill rather than consolidate the school with M.D. Bennie Public School.
The program will begin with junior and senior kindergarten in September 2017, with a grade added each additional year moving forward.
Le Clair told AM800 News the board is relieved it is able to keep at least one school viable by adding french immersion to the mix.
"The fact that we made the decision to keep Gore Hill open and supplement it with that french immersion program is a positive," says Le Clair. "The original request or recommendation was that Gore Hill will close and transition to M.D. Bennie if a new build could be made, but we've decided that we don't want to go that route."
Le Clair says a plan for a new building for Queen Elizabeth Public School to accommodate new students is in the works.
"The Mill Street students will be moving to two new schools and we will be looking at a new build for Queen Victoria, but Gore Hill will remain as it is," he says.
New boundaries affecting all Leamington schools involved have been approved with an exemption for students who may not be able to travel to a new school until graduation.