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Drastic changes to County schools in draft scenarios to battle declining enrolment

HPEDSBDrastic changes in Prince Edward County schools are among options on the table for the Hastings and Prince Edward School Board to fight declining enrolment.

School consolidations and closures are being considered board-wide in a draft plan – containing no specific recommendations – and awaiting public comment.

One scenario consolidates the County’s seven elementary schools into three; another suggests Prince Edward Collegiate become a kindergarten to Grade 12 school, plus three elementary schools. In other scenarios, Prince Edward Collegiate Institute could change into a Grades 7-12, or to a kindergarten to Grade 12 model.

Several strategies suggest consolidating schools and selling off or leasing surplus properties – as was done with Athol and South Marysburgh schools. Athol became a JK to Grade 8 school in September 2011 and South Marysburgh school was closed.

In a Grade 7-12 model for County schools, enrolment at PECI would increase by approximately 300 students. Renewal needs for PECI are $16.6 million with a K-12 scenario, allowing a capacity of 1,239. That model would require an addition to the building or construction of a new facility. The draft pan notes PECI can accommodate an additional 600 or more elementary students – the remaining could be accommodated at elementary schools in the County.

In all scenarios, it is noted considerations on busing and transportation are necessary.

The County’s seven elementary schools (all K-8) have a combined capacity of 56 per cent with a surplus capacity of 1,100 students. The draft plan indicates “renewal needs” of five of the schools amounts to almost $30 million over the next 10 years.

In the scenario of consolidation of the seven schools into three, suggested locations are Picton, one in the southern portion and one in northern/western portion.

PECI can accommodate an additonal 600 or more elementary students. Athol-South is the only school serving the southern portion and can accommodate 179 students before an addition would be required. Pinecrest and CML serve the central and western areas of the County and can accommodate 959 students. The draft states both require significant investment to meet “renewal needs” which exceed $12 million. The draft notes construction of new schools would be the preferred option in that scenario.

Over the past decade, elementary school enrolment throughout the the board has declined by 21 per cent
and secondary by 26 per cent.

Board-wide, projections indicate elementary enrolment to decrease to approximately 9,950 students by 2028-2029 – a two per cent decline from existing figures – resulting in approximately 2,858 surplus spaces.

Secondary projections are a decrease to approximately 4,500 students by 2028-2029 – a 12 per cent decline from existing figures resulting in approximately 3,300 surplus spaces.

Ontario school boards are mainly funded on a per-student basis through grants from Ministry of Education. And when enrolment declines, so does funding.

The HPEDSB serves approximately 15,100 students at 38 elementary and eight secondary schools with 1,800 teaching and support staff. The district covers Maynooth to the north, Deseronto to the east, Prince Edward County to the south and Quinte West to the west. All schools are involved in consolidation and closure scenarios.

The draft – including scenarios for all the board’s schools – is available for public comment until Friday, June 10. It will be presented to trustees at a Student Enrolment School Capacity Committee meeting June 13 and again at the public board meeting June 20.
The draft plan is available at http://www.hpedsb.on.ca/ and any feedback can be sent to directors.office@hpedsb.on.ca before the June 10 deadline

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  1. Marnie says:

    I tried that ADJ but I went broke. Not enough foot traffic and the overhead was too high. I was paying 10 beavers 25 cents an hour each to chew branches into pencils, then there were transportation costs payable to the chipmunks who carried them to my porch in their teeth. The woodpeckers shoplifted the pencils and then some genius invented the ball point pen. So I found a job in Bloomfield selling wet wipes to sticky-handed tourists in front of Slickers. I’m off topic Judy so hand me ten demerit points.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    To ADJ – I’m usually positive, but this news item we are responding to isn’t. In fact, it is about a very disappointing development within our community, and one that will have a very detrimental impact on the future of PEC, if it isn’t quickly and properly addressed – starting now! While we old people can talk about it, our young people are already looking beyond our borders planning their futures away from here. Your idea of them starting up their own business is unrealistic – you need both money and a product or service to sell, plus who can wait five years for an income, when you are broke from the start? So ADJ – just where does this start-up money come from? To answer your question, the good news is we are here and can talk about it, the bad news is that there are fewer young people here than there was five years ago and even fewer will be here five years from now – and some call this progress! But we do get all upset over pot holes in roads – geesh!

  3. ADJ says:

    So Judy I’m running off topic too I guess but if an individual prefers to live and raise a family here in the County and granted there are no good paying jobs (I doubt there ever will be) Why not start up a business? Wrack your brain, shake the bushes and do your homework to start up a business that is needed here.Look around the County and realize how many people have done this. It’s not easy and usually takes 4-5 years to get well established. Advertise as needed but the old word of mouth works too.Good solid service with followup brings the clients back to you. Take the initiative to go the extra mile to serve those clients and you will be well rewarded. Recently I joked with Marnie about selling pencils with a logo on them from the front porch…exaggerated but not far from my point.Make an effort and stop blaming everyone and everything else. And to Dennis..anything positive on your radar? We could use a little good news today.

  4. Mark says:

    I think all the comments have been on topic and in some way linked to declining enrolment. Fewer kids mean fewer schools. You can hardly blame that on people retiring here and paying significantly towards the tax base. Millenials have a lot to learn about the real world. It really is larger than just themselves.

  5. judy kennedy says:

    Dennis, you are the only one staying on point! Congratulations.

    And ADJ, the millennial employment problem is global. In other words, it is a world wide economic reality.

    For example, My kids are no longer in the county, and still struggling. It really is a different world than the one we grew up in.
    It’s too bad we don’t hear from millennials on this site; they know the score. But they’re just too busy surviving.

  6. Marnie says:

    Maybe we just need to be ourselves. When did the county ever offer high paying jobs to attract young families? Going back to the 1950’s there were a lot fewer high school students going on to post secondary education. Loyalist College did not exist and university was not an option for many. These young people often took what jobs they could find and stayed in the county. When post-secondary school education became the norm the majority of young people left for good and raised their families elsewhere. The county works well as a retirement community and has a lot more potential for future development in this direction than in industry. Instead of wasting a lot of effort to woo industries that are never coming here why not build on what’s working for us? There is no point in trying to drive a square peg in a round hole.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    It is time for us to focus on the education scene in the County. This is not about sewer and water rates, or even taxes. What we are hearing is the reality of school closures. Schools are the centre of the neighbourhoods and community – without them our community becomes much less. The reality is the province funds on a per student ratio, which the Boards receive to use to fund their system. Our Board is telling us that the number of students is greatly on the decline(an Ontario trend) – thus they are receiving a lot less in grants. Like it or not, schools will close because of declining enrolment an dthe lack of money. In my opinion, our community has been on the wrong track for a long time – the businesses and jobs that have been encouraged and promoted have not produced enough good paying jobs to attract young families. This cannot be blamed on the Board of Ed. – instead look at our municipal and provincial politicians. Hasn’t our hospital suffered from the same problem – the lack of foresight in the encouragement of attracting retirees because they have money, rather than trying to form a balanced community of all ages? Regardless if you agree with me – our community lacks enough young people to keep some of our schools open – and this is only the beginning!

  8. Gary says:

    I thought it was all about potential growth or pitfalls of such affecting declining enrollment. If the state of the County discourages young families it seems logical to discuss those root causes.

  9. ADJ says:

    Judy I don’t buy your theory entirely. Student loans..been there and done that. Spouse and I worked minimum wage jobs,with one vehicle and car pooling.Got out of the Picton downtown asap and expanded my opportunities.Bought a $12,000 fixer upper, bought a few critters to raise to sell and consume and somehow kept my head above water.As I said before some of this generation perhaps don’t TRY hard enough. It’s easy to throw up your hands, cry woe is me and possibly split the family leaving someone on welfare or mums allowance.Results are there’s now two family households living on less.
    It doesn’t seem to matter what government does to aid this situation there are always sad cases that can’t get a break.
    Just an opinion.

  10. judy kennedy says:

    amazingly off topic hyperbole

  11. Gary says:

    Until some sanity is brought to deal with the water & wastewater fiasco there will be no significant urban growth. Young families will go where they can afford to live. When water rates now practically equal what property taxes were a short time ago it is killing growth. And to throw salt into the wound, most people won’t even drink the smelly stuff!

  12. Emily says:

    Instead of promoting growth for youth, families and schools let’s cool it down by more regulation. They couldn’t make money off of yard sales so now they want to hit the private special event holder with a $500 application fee! Get the government out of our lives constantly.

  13. Susan says:

    My understanding is this is only a plan that the ministry is asking to be put in place. Like the County emergency plans etc. not happening for quite sometime and just a plan folks!!

  14. Fred says:

    Council today got into more regulation. Now Special Events on private property. They just have a burning desire to regulate citizens until death! This will help growth in the community, not.

  15. Gary says:

    Millenials also do not have any idea of how their parents handled mortgages of 11 – 17 %. A generation that knows nothing other than record low interest rates. Good for the borrowers if they can handle a rate increase. Terrible for seniors on their investments.

  16. judy kennedy says:

    ADJ-you are out of touch..as the parent of millenials, I can tell you how hard it is for the current generation to get ahead. so many struggle to get decent paying jobs and pay off student loans….it’s a whole new ball game

  17. ADJ says:

    Agreed Fred but how much effort is actually put into seeking out financial assistance to allow a young family to break away from the inital “first and last” rental payment to possibly stand alone on a property that someday you can call your own.The feeling of independence is overpowering. The following is just an observation and may not be accurate.
    Baby boomers struggled just as much with low wages and job insecurity but many managed to pull through.Today it’s all about food banks,breakfast programs in the schools and second time around shops….unheard of in post war years. Welfare or Relief was the family aid then. Bettering ones self seems to have fallen by the wayside.I’m not sure if TRY is even considered anymore because easier ways are available.

  18. Fred says:

    Without family assisting it is quite difficult for a young couple to save the downpayment requirement.

  19. Geoff Church says:

    There are many factors surrounding getting a mortgage. A very appproximate monthly payment would be around $500+/- per $100,000.

  20. ADJ says:

    Geoff, could you give us an idea as to what would the monthly mortgage payment be on the less than $100,000 home and the same for the $101,000+ home.
    Just wondering how this would compare with a monthly rental.

  21. Geoff Church says:

    It seems inevitable that a discussion of real estate is drawn in to most conversations about the County. In the interest of accuracy, on June 10, 2016, according to the Quinte and District Association of Realtors, the following homes were available for sale in Prince Edward County:
    Under $100,000 – 8
    $100,001-$200,000 – 36
    $200,001-$300,000 – 72
    $300,001-$400,000 – 56
    $400,001-$500,000 – 37
    Over $500,001 – 96

  22. Marnie says:

    Declining enrolment may be attributable in part to the fact that people are no longer raising the large families that they once did. With the high cost of living most households need two wage earners. Hard to raise five or six kids when both parents work. First we promote this place as a retirement haven then we complain because it happens. Now we want younger families because our student population is down. Who but wealthy retirees can afford to live in the county these days? Prices are geared to get top dollar from the tourists and former city residents used to paying a big buck. Water bills are exorbitant and create a real strain on the budget for young families. Our way of life is changing and school closures are only part of it.

  23. Paul Cole says:

    Well Fred I’m not trying to scare off anyone merely quoting a well known real estate agent here in The County. The high cost of properties and rent in The County is in fact causing Young Families to look elsewhere to live thus contributing to the low enrollments in local Public Schools Fred. As well Fred those high rents and property values will make retiree’s think twice before locating here. Sorry if my comments upset you Fred and as you said it Fred “All Canadians including native Canadians need to get to work and make their way. Handouts and excuses do not cut it.” There’s not many well paying jobs in The County Fred hence young Families are leaving The County to seek those jobs and cheaper accommodations Fred…

  24. Fred says:

    And the real estate comment relates to declining enrollment how? Can you say the same for Quinte West which is considering amalgamating schools. Ottawa cutting 6 elementary schools. Happening all over. Given our costs yes recognized, I wouldn’t be scaring off retiree’s with money! Big industry is not coming. All Canadians including native Canadians need to get to work and make their way. Handouts and excuses do not cut it.

  25. Paul Cole says:

    Here’s why there is declining school enrollment in Prince Edward County and also why Retiree’s will stop locating here.. According to an article in the Toronto Star Lori Slik said this “When you look at what’s for sale right now, they’re pretty much palaces,” she said.
    Of 91 active listings earlier this month, 40 were priced between $700,000 and over $1 million.
    Anything under $500,000 we’re in multiple offers, said Slik.”

  26. Fred says:

    How does attracting retirees with money have anything to do with declining school enrolment? They compliment the residential tax base, that’s for sure.

  27. Dennis Fox says:

    I agree with Chuck – if you look at my original comment, you will see that I said that declining enrolment in our schools was a province wide problem. However, I do believe that our local efforts to attract retirees with money has magnified the problem here.

  28. judy kennedy says:

    of course it isn’t just local,but we have different economic issues than places like ottawa—-it is a matter of some urgency for us–we must have a population that is viable over the long term, and can really add to what we have—-we are in danger of becoming progressively more stagnant—-no oxymoron intended

  29. Chuck says:

    This isn’t just a local issue. Ottawa is looking at closing 6 elementary schools because of declining enrolment.

  30. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary – you need to go back a few years and read the document that I am referring to, produced by the Economic Development Dept. It was entitled (sorry I forget the exact title) “something like” Tourism and Destinations – which specifically talked about attracting retirees from across Ontario to PEC – which this County used as their marketing guide for some time. As you may or may not be aware, this new Development Commission that you refer to, is a much different creature than the previous Economic Development Dept. – but that is a moot point. The bottom line is that this community is an aging one and the numbers show that didn’t happen just by chance. Now our school system is at risk and we need to find a way to attract younger people to our community. I hope that we both can agree that this current trend needs to be reversed. However, I am happy to see that you are reading my comments – thanks!

  31. Gary Mooney says:

    I did some research on County demographics a while ago and got the impression that young families have been moving out in droves, while older folks are moving in, the net result being a stable, but older population.

    Picton’s population has declined in recent years, and I’m guessing that it’s because younger families of four have been moving out, with their houses been taken over by older couples.

    For young families, housing is less expensive in ROQ (the rest of Quinte) and it appears that the difference is increasing. Also, people are buying County properties and converting them to vacation rentals, thereby reducing available housing for permanent residents.

    We have an urgent problem with affordable housing, and it could get to the point where people who work in hospitality, wineries, trades, retail etc. cannot afford to live here.

  32. Gary Mooney says:

    Dennis, you said, “A number of years ago when PEC had an Economic Department and Director…”. You’re speaking of Dan Taylor.

    Now we have Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development AND the Community and Economic Development Commission. This is a more substantial operation than we had before.

    Then and now, marketing has been directed at attracting lifestyle tourists and small, creative businesses. I’m not aware of marketing directed specifically at retirees (not like Elliot Lake, for example). We’re getting retirees as a side effect of tourism marketing — people visit here and then later buy here.

  33. Dennis Fox says:

    A number of years ago when PEC had an Economic Department and Director, a document was produced for council that outlined how this community could financially benefit by marketing itself to retirees living outside of the County. In other words, attract seniors from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to live here and who have money to spend here. Just last week, it was reported in our press that 63% of the County’s population is made up of retirees! Council’s plan worked – but the flaws in it should be obvious. As one school after the other closes, it brings this community ever closer to being one huge aging mess – and now what?

  34. Paul Cole says:

    BAD reality shows I meant to type

  35. Paul Cole says:

    LOL The only reality about Donnie Chump are his reality shows.

    One thing is obvious we all care deeply about Prince Edward County we have different opinions and ideas when it comes to maintaining what we have here but we care. Losing 4 schools would not be a good thing for young Families. I think Councils main objectives should be attracting new small and medium sized businesses here to sure up the tax base that ALONG WITH the jobs created by the tourist industry may attract Young Families to relocate here and maybe we wouldn’t lose 4 schools…

  36. Emily says:

    Anyone wildly calling our community an old age home needs to go pet a turtle!

  37. Susan says:

    Trump is a reality that has stated he will prevent jobs exiting, far from a wild statement. What is wild is placing retiree’s as young as 50,55 and 60 coming to our community with solid finances and freely giving and assisting with supports. They should not be targeted as living in an old age home as active as they are!

  38. judy kennedy says:

    Stop the multiple buses going to Belleville every day. Our enrollment would be much better—less gas being burned, less money being spent, more courses being offered. Students and families better served.
    Let’s not turn this whole county into one big retirement community. No one wants to live in one big old age home.

  39. judy kennedy says:

    you must be pulling our legs. Trump? You sure are given to wild statements–

  40. Susan says:

    County couldn’t save Colbi’s formerly Baxters. It died like every other of dozens canning factories. Same with cheese factories, all gone. Still find it comical that we recently hosted the biggest cheese fest in Canada when a rural area such as ours doesn’t now have a single factory!It’s all big business. We lost great tomatoes to the little hard rocks from south western Ontario. And recently Heinz up and left Leamington. Now North America is pretty much supplied by Mexican tomatoes with all the uncontrolled pesticides! But there is some hope, according to Mr.Trump.

  41. Paul Cole says:

    You have a point Susan there has never been big industry jobs here BUT there has been small and medium sized industry Midtown Meats Colbi Foods and still in operation Ceramet and Essroc. Had council supported Midtown Meats and Colbi’s like it has the Winery Industry and windmill defense a happy median could have existed with light industry and tourism. Port Picton is a step in the right direction thank you Mr. Quaiff….

  42. Susan says:

    Oh come on. The County has never had big industry jobs. Not going to change the water cost, road repairs etc. Thank goodness we have retiree’s and tourism or else the tax bill would be out of sight. If it is too expensive people usually look at alternatives. But good luck with that in Ontario. Those looking for guaranteed income are in a fool’s world.

  43. Paul Cole says:

    I agree Justmyopinion its way to expensive to raise a Family here, with very few year round employment opportunities the high rents and property values Young Families are choosing to raise their families where gentrification is not happening. With fewer schools and the possible loss of more hospital services even baby boomers will think twice before locating here.

  44. Justmyopinion says:

    Why are you discussing baby boomers! They have raised there children and now there children are having kids and this is about them. Yes very big decline in children to the county because the county would rather cater to the tourist and retired people so there for it is very expensive for the average person to raise a family here in the county with the raising cost of everything. But that’s just my opinion.

  45. Susan says:

    My error, it is actually estimated to be a boomer inheritance over the next 10 years of 750 billion. That’s a lot of dough and Prince Edward County will be a significant secondary beneficiary. Attract the $$.

  46. Susan says:

    I believe the majority of boomers are financially secure, of course not all in any demographic. Canadian Boomers are also on the cusp of inheriting 650 billion from their parents.

  47. hockeynan says:

    Susan Who the heck said baby boomers have lots of money.Some are just trying to make ends meet.

  48. Paul says:

    With high rents and high property values you can expect those Baby Boomers to stop coming too..

  49. Susan says:

    Retiring baby boomers not only have a lot of money, they are inheriting a lot of money. They are an economy of themselves.

  50. Dennis Fox says:

    This scenario of declining enrolment is being played out across the province. For us in PEC, this should have been expected due to the concerted effort to attract seniors to the area. In my opinion, our community is not better due to this planned social engineering. In fact if it isn’t reversed quickly, our community will die a slow death brought on by a poor economy, no jobs, no families and too few taxpayers to carry the debt. Sound at all familiar? What is equally as surprising is that as enrolment declines across the province, the Ontario Teacher Colleges continues to graduate more qualified people – and yet have no jobs to offer them!

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