Open-Concept Public Schools To Be Reviewed

Ron LeClair, trustee with the Greater Essex County District School Board, attends the regular meeting of the board on January 17, 2017.

The cost of converting two open-concept public schools to closed-concept schools is going under the microscope.

Roseville and Sandwich-West public schools are the only two that remain after Eastwood and Parkview public schools were slated for consolidation.

That's when Greater-Essex County Public School Board Vice-Chair Ron LeClair started to see a possible issue with open-concept learning. He says little opposition was raised, and then the calls began to come in.

"There was essentially no opposition to to those schools closing. That was because they were open-concept schools, that became readily apparent," says LeClair. "Shortly there after I started receiving calls from people that have students at Sandwich West Public School in particular, so I thought it was prudent to bring forward this motion and to get the report."

Parents began to express concerns about distractions, and LeClair started to see signs it may be something teachers are concerned about too.

"The noise and the distractions that occur, quite clearly when you go in these schools you see that teachers have created barriers with whatever they can use to try to create some separation," LeClair says.

He told AM800 News collaborative learning isn't something that's going away anytime soon, but teachers still need to have the option to block out distractions.

"This is not about eliminating collaborative learning," he says. "This is about when students are in engaged in learning with their specific teacher that they actually have that kind of separation so they can focus as a class."

Trustees Alan Halberstadt and Jessica Sartori voted against the report — estimated to cost $41,000. 

Sartori says she respects the boards decision, but there just wasn't enough information available to justify taking money out of renewal and maintenance funding.

She did say — should the report show the need for the change — she would support it.