Munster Elementary School, January 2015

Munster Elementary to remain open, for now

Public school board trustee Lynn Scott says she’s concerned about the viability of delivering an effective program at Munster Elementary School next year.

“Given the small numbers of students, especially in some grades, it will be difficult to organize the classes to optimize instruction for the students,” she wrote in an email to StittsvilleCentral.ca.

At last night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Scott put forward a motion to close the school and redirect students to either A. Lorne Cassidy or Richmond Public School starting in 2015-2016.  The committee voted against the motion, meaning that Munster Elementary will continue to operate as an English-only school next year.

“The vote last night means that the Committee of the Whole is sending no recommendation regarding Munster to the Board for ratification,” says Scott. “Unless someone gives notice of raising the motion again at Board, or offering a different motion, no action will be taken, and we will be left with status quo for Munster.”

“At this point, given the vote last night, I’m not inclined to try to move the motion again, but I haven’t yet completely decided yet.  If Munster stays status quo, I’m very concerned for next year.”The school currently has the lowest enrolment of any public school in Ottawa: only 54 students in a school that has capacity for 219.

More reviews of school boundaries and population projections are expected to be conducted in the upcoming months.


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18 thoughts on “Munster Elementary to remain open, for now”

  1. In consideration of the fact that due to administrative issues Munster Elementary School lost close to 70 students in the past few years alone, eight intelligent, thoughtful trustees made the right choice on the 17th. The board allowed the school to get to these enrolment numbers and needs to be held responsible. Do not punish the families that have stood by the school by closing it in order to sweep mistakes under the rug. The fact that trustee Scott is still considering another motion to try and close the school is downright disgusting.

  2. 49 students in a school of 219 capacity, 22% utilization rate, no prospects of an EFI program replacing its English program looking any better – as was clearly indicated on every single front during an entire year’s worth of research. How can this all be squarely the board’s fault? It’s the board that tried everything to make it work for crying out loud! Are you not seeing how the rural community has been maturing?
    It ought to be clear. A bunch of people move in, they have families with kids, and the kids grow past the elementary stage, but the parents stay put. And no new development to make up for young population losses. The elementary supply has been dwindling as a result. It isn’t anyone’s fault! It’s just circumstances!

  3. I am sorry Joe P but I don’t think you have all of the details. The drastic drop in enrollment has occurred over the course of 2-3 years due to specific reasons that were ignored by the board. These are children who are still school aged & have transferred to other elementary schools or other school boards altogether due to frustration over the inaction of those in power. They are letting these children down and continue to do so by not taking any actions to address the issues or come up with a plan to do so…..

  4. Dear Joe,

    Your tale of an aging population, while heartwarming, is not factual. This year there are ~291 Elementary School aged children in the MES catchment area, last year there were ~291 Elementary School aged children in the MES catchment area, the year before that there were ~291 Elementary School aged children in the MES catchment area.

    Now please tell me exactly what the board did over the past four years when ~60% of the enrollment was lost in BLOCK moves away from the school due to administrative issues?

    How did the request to see if EFI could be brought to the school come about? Was this initiated by the board as a proactive response to dwindling numbers and local desire for EFI? No it wasn’t, the MES community had to request this review ourselves because NOTHING was being done to help English program enrollment.

    Once the board staff had this request to consider EFI they began working groups where 3/4 of the members wanted no change and only MES families wanted EFI to be considered. Was this a valid approach? When the quorum of your group is AGAINST the very idea of MES getting EFI? It is not.

    The staff were asked to consider EFI at MES, they were not asked to spend half of their time planning how to minimize impacts at recipient schools with its demise but that is exactly what they did.

    If my boss asked me to figure out the viability of a new program at work and instead of doing so by actually considering all possibilities, like extending our service area, or possibly bringing in a related program , (think MFI, expanded optional boundary, etc.), I came back and told him that I decided it was better to close the school instead, I would be fired.

    How many other schools would have seen a drop in enrollment of ~60% over only four years, while seeing NO decrease in elementary aged children in their catchment area, would have been left to fend for themselves?

    BTW – If utilization is to be considered the primary measurement of program viability it dooms the vast majority of rural schools. Is a measuring stick that may be valid in an Urban centre also valid in rural areas? I don’t believe it is. Unless of course to people love large, overcrowded schools where your children truly do become just another student number.

    Best regards,
    Chris

  5. I agree! Lynn Scott was elected in by US, and her role as a trustee is to ” represent the interests of the community, parents and students in their area”. Putting forth a motion to close the school is essentially not doing her job…..not doing AT ALL what she was elected to do. We brought forth a solution to gain numbers (having EFI) and instead of the vote being for that, it was switched to whether or not to close the school.

  6. Allegedly, there was a principal that was making bad decisions that people didn’t like and made people move away. There was also talk about people not liking the small class sizes, the age gaps, gender being off balance. There were other concerns like a repeated bullying problem, and concerns about safety. There were other issues I heard as well.
    But if all those issues have been resolved, supposedly, shouldn’t everyone be coming back? And shouldn’t people stop leaving? The count keeps on going down. People keep mentioning numbers 58, 54, but I’m hearing it’s really 49. Which is it?
    When were all these problem fixed, and shouldn’t the English program numbers have been recovering because of it?

  7. I think as a community we now have to put them to task and ask them now that they’ve decided to keep the school open, and because we’ve demonstrated that the drastic drop in enrollment was an anomaly (to which many of the board appeared drastically concerned that this had not been brought to their attention previously), what is their plan to increase enrollment?

    If the school continues to appear unstable and Lynn Scott is still rallying to close it, you can guarantee parents with kids entering JK will choose another facility and enrolment will continue to drop.

    Unless a plan is put in place to deal with the issues at the heart of this problem, I truly believe this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy & all we have achieved is a 1 year delay in closing the school.

    They are paid to deal with these issues & we as responsible parents need to ensure they do their jobs.

  8. Joe P – I don’t think parents make the decision to move a child to another school lightly. As we all know kids need stability to thrive. I think once a parent moves a child & is satisfied with the move they made, they are highly unlikely to move the child back even if the problems have been fixed, simply out of consideration for their child’s emotional needs.

  9. 291 students in the catchment…
    You can take Area A and B right out of that because neither are aligned with Munster at all. The eastern end of core C isn’t either. There are people inside Munster actual,
    that don’t wish it either, given its problems. Munster is close to the Beckwith border, and as such isn’t getting any stream from west of Munster.
    With 6 main programs to pick from (public English+EFI+MFI, Catholic EN+EFI+MFI – it sure would help if they would merge the two boards wouldn’t it?),
    the English share would be under 50, and it is. It’s actually doing pretty good, given it’s getting more than 1/6th of its share.
    Clearly, the English program can not continue to work, because 22% utilization rate is unacceptable.
    Replacing English with EFI would also result in a very low utilization rate.
    With Area B not having any children to pick from at all because the children are all moving
    past the elementary stage as we speak, and Area A being out,
    phasing in an EFI program clearly can not work either. This has been thoroughly studied for an entire year, including many very high caliper professionals from the board,
    including the planning manager, chief of finance, and all the rest of it, using real data.
    Richmond residents that send their children to Westwind, have said they do not wish to direct their children to MES.
    Westwind’s population issues will likely be addressed by new school developments in the east end of Stittsville.
    Blaming Lynn Scott for all this is absolutely unfair. She has tried and tried. It isn’t just her making decisions either. She represents the collective efforts of the board. Her reasoning is not illogical.

  10. Sara, yes, absolutely, stability is what the children need! Removing children from a school with numbers that we *know* works well, that takes them right through grade 8, and forcing them to move to a small time experiment without the numbers to make it viable, that only takes them to grade 5, after which they’d have to go to Goulborn, how is that stable for those kids?
    Yes there are compromises. A 35 minute busride adds to the children being more tired once they come back home. Yes, the MES building has many upsides. But the numbers are a problem. Split classroom, multiple grades in one, that in an EFI program where each grade is supposed to be different language wise, that is a serious problem. That also doesn’t lead to stability.

  11. Also, the trustees didn’t really vote to keep the close open. They just didn’t support Option D the way the process was conducted.

  12. At the end of the day the decision power lies predominantly with the board and the superintendent which is why so many families didn’t just pull their kids from the school, they pulled them from the board.
    Parents agonize over decisions like this and there should be no expectation that they would return. If you felt that the board failed to address your concerns to the point you pulled your children entirely out of that board, would you seriously consider returning under any circumstances? If moving kids from school to school was such a non-issue we would have an EFI program for 2015/2016 since many ALC parents would not have fought to close the school in order to prevent moving. (And that would be a move within the same school board).
    The way this program review was handled, except in the minds of people with NO kids at, or that have attended the school, is absolutely, positively not the kind of demonstration that would make ANYONE feel that the board was serious about this schools future. (With the exception of the trustees that rejected the motion to close it.) Any parents that left the board would be pretty hard pressed not to pat themselves on the back for making the decision to go elsewhere considering this debacle.
    We need to restore the school for the current students and those that would be coming on for the following years. If only enrolment was not still blocked and our trustee was not continuing to drive the uncertainty.
    What better way to negatively impact a school’s enrollment than to continue prognosticating its demise.

  13. Thank you for your great insight “Joe P.” The study was neither thorough nor complete and the staff you so highly praise admitted that they made no effort to consider corrective measures for enrollment at all.

  14. The idea of block moving kids from your favourite school is not part of an overall solution to the numbers at MES nor desired by any party. Fighting to close a school to prevent your kids from a ‘potential’ move was bad enough, continuing to do so after all have agreed to grandfathering is worse.

  15. Joe P – you missed my point entirely regarding stability. It is plain and simple based on your previous comments that you don’t have all the facts and therefore it is pointless for us to continue this debate.

  16. The grandfathering wasn’t guaranteed at all, plus it didn’t cover everyone, Chris. In fact, there wasn’t any guarantee at all.
    I’m fighting to keep innocent kids out of your experiment that would clearly compromise their quality of education – because the numbers, and that’s a fact that keeps on staring you in your face, are simply not there.
    The only thing I known about your side, is that you’re trying to get EFI in, with absolutely no regard on how this affects other people’s children.
    Not a single statement is made about how it’d be good for the children. The only standpoint appears to be “it’d start small, but it’d get better later”, “build it and they will come”. And no qualms about how it’d affect those “ramp up” children in your experiment.

  17. The study was pretty thorough, in fact. Numbers of various areas were shown. They were not made up. 291 – Area A (23) – Area B (12) = 256. 6 programs. 256 / 6 = 43.
    In how many ways does this have to be rehashed over and over?

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