Public school board staff recommends closing Munster Elementary School

Munster Elementary School

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board staff have recommended closing Munster Elementary School starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

Families currently attending the school would have the choice of attending either A. Lorne Cassidy School in Stittsville or Richmond Public School.

The report will be presented to the school board on January 20, and a final decision will be made in February.

We’ve reached out to parents and trustee Lynn Scott for their reaction to the news. In the meantime, here’s part of the report from the OCDSB about the decision.

There are many variables and interests involved in this process. It is understood that the Munster Elementary School building is a well-used community asset and an important part of the fabric of the local area. In examining the issues and forming its recommendation to the Board, staff attempted to ensure that the educational experience of students was its first priority.

Staff began the study process anticipating that the introduction of a new EFI program at Munster Elementary School would be possible for 2015. Although the projected enrolment figures for a new program using the existing Munster attendance area were not overwhelming, the feeling was that the program might grow with more localized access.

Input from the working group led staff to question the EFI boundary that had originally been proposed. A scoped-back boundary (based on comments provided) resulted in enrolment numbers (31 projected SK to grade 5 students) which are simply not viable. Staff appreciated the forthrightness of the working group input and these opinions were confirmed at the public consultation meeting and in subsequent feedback. Staff is therefore not recommending the introduction of the EFI program.

Staff then examined the possibility of keeping students at the school for the 2015-2016 school year under a status quo scenario whereby the school would continue with a JK to grade 5 single-track English program. A significant concern, however, was that enrolment at the school would continue to decline and registrations for next year would come in lower than forecasted (54 students).

A loss of enrolment for the next school year could occur during the spring planning period or as late as September. This current low level of enrolment and unpredictability related to a further possible reduction is a significant concern to staff. If that were to take place, emergency action might be necessary, leading to greater disruption to students, families, and staff.

Given the above, staff is reluctantly recommending that current Munster Elementary School students be relocated from the school, effective September 2015.

In order to limit disruption to students and families, staff is recommending that all current Munster Elementary School students (those attending the school in 2014- 2015) be provided a one-time option to choose to attend either A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School or Richmond Public School for the 2015-2016 school year. This would ensure that families are able to choose to keep siblings together, regardless of program choice and current school of attendance.

This one-time option would be extended to siblings of current Munster Elementary School students who would be enrolled in JK for 2015-2016.

The Munster Elementary School English program attendance boundary would be revised for September 2015 as per the changes outlined in Option D.

The area located north of Fallowfield Road would be redirected to A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School (JK to grade 8) and the portion located south of Fallowfield Road, including Munster Hamlet, would be redirected to Richmond Public School (JK-5). Goulbourn Middle School would continue to be the designated school for the south of Fallowfield Road area for grades 6 to 8. See Appendix C for detailed revised attendance boundary maps for all affected schools.

These attendance boundary revisions would be effective September 2015 and would impact future students residing in the area. As noted earlier, current Munster Elementary School students and JK siblings for 2015 would be provided a one-time option to choose to attend either school.

In addition, current Munster Elementary School grade 5 students (attending in 2014-2015) residing north of Fallowfield Road will be given a one-time option to choose to attend Goulbourn Middle School with classmates.

MFI program boundaries will be revised to be consistent with those changes to the English program attendance area. MFI students residing north of Fallowfield Road will be directed to A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School (grades 4 to 8) and those residing south of Fallowfield Road will continue to be directed to Richmond Public School (grades 4 to 5) and Goulbourn Middle School (grades 6 to 8).

As indicated earlier in the report and represented by input received during the consultation process, the Munster Elementary School building plays an important role in the community and is well used. Typically, issues of accommodation and property disposition are handled through separate processes. Should the recommendation to relocate students from the school be approved by Board, staff would suggest that the school building continue to be open and available to the public for the 2015-2016 school year.

In order to determine the future of Munster Elementary School an accommodation review committee, under the provincial guidelines, will have to be struck in the near future. Staff will be bringing a report forward under separate cover to discuss both scope and timelines and to seek Board authorization to proceed with such a study.

You can read the full report online here…


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