Natyshak Keeping Tabs on New Public High School for Amherstburg


Essex MPP Taras Natyshak is keeping a close eye on plans for a new public high school in Amherstburg.

"My team and I are reaching out to the school board and to the town to find out a way that we can play a constructive role in addressing the issue," says Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

As heard on AM800 News Wednesday, Amherstburg town council fired off a letter to Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce about the approved plans for the $24-million school.

Council is not happy the project is missing several key components such as a third gym, an automotive shop and two classrooms for alternative learning.

Natyshak believes the root of the problem is the province's funding formula for a new school.

He says the Greater Essex County District School Board first received approval in 2016, but it took almost four years to get the funding and plans officially approved by the province.

Natyshak says the formula has to change.

"What we have learned so far is that, it's a long standing issue that stems from a lack of changes to the funding formula and what that does, is it short changes school boards and those communities when grants are issued years before actually tenders are released so you got a devaluation in that overall funding simply due to inflation," says Natyshak.

He says the board is in a tough situation.

"They have minimal funding and dollars that they have to stretch but when it affects some of the basic needs of students like lockers and adequate seating in the cafeteria then we got a serious issue there," says Natyshak.

Natyshak says costs have increased since the funding for the school was first approved.

"I believe the grant was issued in 2016 and here we are four years later and costs have gone up that's simply due to inflation," says Natyshak.  "So not only do we have to look at protecting against that but also streamlining the application process and ensuring that boards can get those projects online sooner whether than later."                

Trustees with the public school board approved the plans last week.

The school will be built on 15 acres at the corner of Simcoe, Fryer and Victoria St.

The new school will accommodate 819 students from General Amherst High School and Western Secondary.

The board hopes to have the facility open for the 2022 school year.