New solution emerges to keep Munster Elementary open

Munster Elementary School, January 2015. Photo by Glen Gower.

(Guest post from Jessica Breckenridge, the Munster Community Association School Liaison.)

The public school board has posted a memo with another option to keep Munster Elementary School (MES) open in 2015.

The option would bring early french immersion (EFI) to the school with the addition of two optional enrollment areas: between the Trans Canada Trail and Fallowfield; and Richmond.

Under a EFI phase-in proposal for September 2015, MES would offer an English program to students in Senior Kindergarten (SK) to grade 5 and an EFI program to students in SK only. Junior Kindergarten (JK) students intending to enter the EFI program in 2016 would be directed to the school.

The memo does not address the plan for JK students already attending A. Lorne Cassidy (ALC) school this year and the Board must still confirm if grandfathering will be provided. As I have recommended previously to the Board these students should be provided a choice to attend MES or remain at ALC.

The memo notes that the initial EFI enrolment would be small but indicators do point to a growing uptake of the program, however it is not known if that uptake would make for a sustainable program.

The report does not include any reference to the possible new Talos homes development in Munster (proposing 500 homes), which would double the amount of houses in Munster and very likely increase young population in the community. Planning for this development is anticipated to start soon and construction could be going forward within the next five years.

The proposal in the memo reflects the idea that Trustee Lynn Scott raised at the January 20 Committee of the Whole meeting. Since there is a growing demand for EFI, Scott had suggested phasing out the english stream at MES. The proposal notes that in SK Fall 2015 there would be both English and EFI. I will be suggesting that the board continue the english program for a trial period of a few more years before the complete elimination of this program as possible new growth in Munster could provide enough children to support both the EFI and english stream.

Munster community members requested the board look at bringing EFI to MES since the demand for that program has been increasing in our community and so many Munster children are bussed out of our community when we have a school right in Munster. I hope that parents from other schools who may have concerns with this proposal to please appreciate we want to find the best solution for the current and future children in Munster.

What’s next

It is very important that affected residents in Munster, Richmond and surrounding rural area send their comments to the School Trustees on the proposal to bring EFI to MES with optional enrollment areas. Residents can also attend the upcoming OCDSB Committee of a Whole meeting on Feb. 17 at 7:30p.m., 133 Greenbank Rd. The Committee will debate and vote on the item and a final decision will be made at the Board meeting on Feb. 24.

This year MES is an excellent school environment and offers a range of clubs and groups for the students. It is also great facility kept in very good condition with large classrooms, an oversized gym (larger than other schools), accessible access, huge outdoor yard and is beside a large city park with more greenspace. While I am aware of issues in the past those are now gone and as a school we want to work together and provide this great school for future generations of children in our community.

More info: OCDSB agenda with the full report, memo and submissions regarding the future of Munster Elementary School.


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1 thought on “New solution emerges to keep Munster Elementary open”

  1. Converting a 22% utilized school from English to EFI, given the overwhelming resistance, without any good supply of students to draw from, that would look no better than its current failing state, is just irresponsible to the children, the tax payers, and it would work against other school developments where it’s actually needed. You can’t expect communities from other locations to come flocking to Munster. You can’t bank on that, and you can’t keep other people’s children hostage for this experiment.
    The result would be combined grades all over the place (many subjects in EFI you can’t combine with other grades), very low grade sizes (might occasionally reach 0 even), large age gaps, funding problems, the problems just keep on piling up.
    The province requires a 65% utilization rate, but the numbers show that you can not even reach half of that.
    This whole proposal would make things only worse on every front.
    As for the Talos development, that’s just very disingenuous to pretend that development is around the corner. Just two years ago, Munster residents had a major protest against the Talos expansion in Munster, and as a result it was stopped. The city won’t look at it again until 2018. At that point, who knows how many years until a shovel hits the ground. The city doesn’t favor rural development anyway. To pretend that we have to worry about a “doubling Munster population” is completely fabricated.

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