The Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) held a public meeting at John Rennie high school last Wednesday to open up discussions on the major school change plan. The meeting was attended by the council of commissioners, the board’s senior administrative team, representatives from multiple governing boards, teachers and students.
According to the board, modifications to multiple facets of its schools working structures are necessary due to a decline in the number of English-eligible students on their territory between 2009 – 2017 from 30,226 eligible students to 25,023 eligible students. The student enrolment in LBPSB secondary schools in 2007 which counted 11, 979 students decreased to 8, 317 students recorded by the board in 2017. During the 2017-2018 school year, the board estimates that seven of their eleven high schools were operating at 60% capacity, or less.
The council of commissioners’ long-term planning committee conducted a two-year analysis to determine the best possible solutions and outcomes. On Wednesday evening at the meeting, the board, after having put together a few scenarios sought the input of the public, governing boards, teachers and students in the open assembly before finalising its decision which it will present on December 17th.
The LBPSB’s need for change is in consideration of the decline which in effect resulted in reactive factors which include:
-The French sector’s demand for more space to accommodate its increasing enrolment, while the LBPSB, due to a steady decline in enrolment, has the room to accommodate the growing need of the French sector
-The financial challenge in maintaining extra curricular activities and programs in low population schools
-Uneven distribution of population in schools based on school zoning maps currently in place.
Governing board representatives from the schools which will be affected by the change made their opinions known to the committee on Wednesday. It was evident that there is no one scenario that will accommodate the desired terms of all the schools affected by the change in the short term. The general outlook of all the governing board representatives that were present is that they want what is best for the students in their respective schools. They also expressed their understanding of the need for change and the board members lent a sympathetic ear to the needs and desires of each school. Place Cartier principal Peggy Grant who presented her stance to the board, told The Suburban “I trust the commissioners to make the best decision for the board.”