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Six of County’s eight schools affected in proposals for closure and change

county-schoolsSix of the County’s eight schools are affected in proposals for closures and changes to be discussed at Monday’s student enrolment and capacity committee meeting of the Hastings Prince Edward District School board.

The committee proposes to begin an accommodation review for the County’s schools with a final report to the board on June 19, 2017 for the consolidation of Pinecrest, Queen Elizabeth, Sophiasburgh, CML and Kente public schools. There are no changes proposed for Athol South Marysburgh and Massassaga Rednersville public schools.

The preliminary recommendation for Prince Edward County Schools is:

– Close Pinecrest Memorial Elementary School and Picton’s Queen Elizabeth School and move students to Prince Edward Collegiate Institute for September 2017

– Close Sophiasburgh Central School and move students to Prince Edward Collegiate Institute for September 2018

– Close CML Snider School and Kente Public School and seek Ministry of Education funding/approval to build a new K-8 elementary school on the CML Snider property or in Wellington for September 2020

Existing space at PECI can be ready for students for Sept. 2017 from Queen Elizabeth and Pinecrest. Renovations at PECI would be completed to facilitate age-appropriate learning spaces and outdoor areas for K-8 students. Sophiasburgh students would move to PECI for September 2018.
Students from Kente and CML would remain at their schools until capital funding is approved by the Ministry of Education for construction of a new school.

Capital needs at County schools are estimated at $33.7 million – including $17.4 million over five years at PECI. The secondary school has surplus space of 674 students resulting in utilization of 46 per cent of its space. The elementary schools have a total of 1,098 surplus spaces, a utilization rate of 56 per cent. Five year capital renewal needs at the elementary schools total $16 million.

The board’s proposals, involve 19 local public elementary and secondary schools to present options from the long-term capital and accommodation plan reflecting declining enrolment and capital needs.

Over the last decade elementary enrolment has declined by 21 per cent and secondary, by 26 per cent. Projections indicate continued decline over the next decade.

The decline affects Ministry of Education funding, based mainly on a per-student basis. The board is also faced with capital renewal needs of $250 million over the next decades. Elementary schools are, on average, 54 years of age; secondary schools, average 60 years old.


The proposals will be put forward on Monday Nov. 21, 2016 at the Student Enrolment School Capacity committee meeting, 3:30 p.m. at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute. The agenda, including proposals and options for the remainder of the boards schools is available by clicking here:
Results of the afternoon meeting go to Monday evening’s school board meeting at 7p.m., also at PECI.

A six month consultation process, including public meetings and further study follows. The proposals must also receive Ministry of Education approval.

Filed Under: Hastings & Prince Edward District School BoardLocal News

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  1. Robert Sandfield says:

    For a fraction of the cost the operating square footage of schools could be reduced. Yes it will require some piping changes and such, but to have schools close to home that are not used or torn down is not a great solution. It is exhausting to ride the bus all over the place picking up kids and then traveling to a more distant town. The net savings is definitely not that large. An hour or more on the bus is far too much for young kids, coupled with County snow squalls…. Look for more options. Might not mean a ribbon cutting and self congratulating speeches for all.

  2. David says:

    I never understood this weird Canadian fixation with separating kids into elementary, Junior High and senior high schools, with the gross inefficiencies involved.
    Like most Europeans, I spent my entire post-Kindergarten schooling under one roof. And then there’s the even more strange public/separate nonsense.
    It’s been unaffordable for a generation, maybe two. And never designed in the best interests of the students.

  3. Mark says:

    Changing demographics being what they are, not much of a surprise…but the fact they want to do this all by September is ridiculously optimistic.

  4. Mark says:

    Since when did our grade 12 teens become such a dreaded group of individuals that we no longer want them near kindergarten kids!

  5. steve says:

    If you can’t combine Catholic and Public, at least put them in the same building to share boilers, gymnasium, grounds and auditoriums.

    It is absolutely crazy to even contemplate pulling down the Wellington School and building new. The cost of starting over will go a long way to restoring, re-roofing and removing asbestos, etc. School boards and councils always want to build new and underestimate the cost of just getting back to flat earth, let alone starting from scratch and building and servicing the site.

  6. Amanda says:

    I agree that with the population changes, and not as many children being enrolled that some schools need to be closed. The only option they are putting forth however seems ridiculous. I don’t agree that JKs should be in the same school as grade 12s, at least not in PECI with the way it is set up, it just wouldn’t work. Plus you would then have to build play areas for all these younger children which is just another cost to consider. Why is Mass Red not being considered to be shut down? You could easily transfer all those students to Kente. You could also either close down Pincrest or Wellington and have those students go to the other school (or if they are in the outer limits and it would be closer they could go to either Kente, if they live in Hillier, or Queen E if they live closer to Picton) There are other solutions available, I just hope they are considered instead of what has been put forth.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    Questioning expenditures for repairs is the right thing to do -but don’t get caught up in the numbers as if they are the final word. Balance off the millions on repairs with the future earnings of these young people and with what they will contribute in the future – such as paying taxes and paying for healthcare, etc… It is money well invested. However, the question that needs to be asked is – Why has our government underfunded our system to the point where school repairs have been allowed to accumulate to this level? I get tired of governments (at all levels) who get elected on cutting taxes, the public think they are great, then BAM! we pay for it later – or in this case the kids do! Our Bd. of Ed. isn’t perfect, but in this case they don’t control the dollars – Queen’s Park does.

  8. Mike says:

    More lingering questions: with 17.4 million needed for PECI upgrades – is using that money for a 50+ year old high school the best use of funds? What condition is it in that needs that much money? Is rushing to add 500+ students in before that work is done the best idea? Will our children be going through the same issue in 5-10 years when people realize an aging PECI bursting at the seems wasn’t the best idea and then where do we put these students while we build a new JK-12 school?

  9. Gary Mooney says:

    North Addington Education Centre in Cloyne has been JK to 12 for more than a decade (500 students now). It would be interesting to hear about their experiences.

  10. Dennis Fox says:

    I really don’t believe that the trustees nor the Bd. of Ed are responsible for this situation – declining enrollment is happening in many areas across Canada The bottom line is that the birth rate across Canada has continually dropped over the past 50 years. Don’t start blaming the cost of living as the reason for small families or for not having kids – hell my parents and many others reading this comment came from large families and our parents lived through the depression and war. No, our generation had the pill to control the birth rate and a life style they wanted to maintain – which meant both husband and wife worked. The school system is once again showing the results of such decisions. Like I said they didn’t create the problem – we all did. The challenge now is what are we going to do to help solve it? This may be a great time to have smaller classes and smaller school populations to keep the community together until the student population increases. Just don’t expect it to be a cost effective system – but maybe it might be worth it – the kids would sure benefit!

  11. Tired says:

    Way back when the county hired a consulting firm to discuss what they needed to do with their aging arenas especially the Wellington arena. The reported stated that with the aging population and the decline of young families the county should not build a new arena and do no major repairs at Wellingtons arena because within 5 to six years only one arena will be needed. Well 5 years later we watch as two arenas sit empty most of the time. Do not worry people if history repeats its self no schools will close.

  12. Willie says:

    I guess my question that really lingers is could Picton survive without a high school as with 565 students out of a capacity of 1300 then something has to give? Schools are costs that have a set amount no matter 50 or 500 and there has to be fiscal responsibility. We are mad when our taxes go up or we criticize when their budget is over but now that they are trying to do something responsible we rip them again. It is no different then a couple downsizing to a condo when their kids move away. No kids mean no funding. Schools have a large number of repairs needed and they get bigger every year. Lets be honest families are not coming to the county and thus schools need to adapt. Maybe we need more families to really support public education with its successes rather then complaining all the time and only getting involved when the stove gets hot!

  13. wevil says:

    CHUCK maybe you are right we should give this a chance the same chance that the wind turbines and PT are getting

  14. Emily says:

    The world is changing. With fewer kids which is a result of cost of livings, we cannot have a school on every corner. I also like a “Centre of Excellence” at PECI.

  15. Chuck says:

    Why not look at some of the positives? Throwing weed out there is a typical scare tactic. Every little kid is going to be introduced to weed! Give me a break. There are a majority of young teens at PECI not on weed that respect our younger kids. Where do you get your facts on the mass usage? Scaring parents unnecessarily. And a little weed will soon be legal, long over due.

  16. wevil says:

    why is it the COUNTY will be the first ones in the HDSB to be set up with JK to 12 under the same roof

  17. wevil says:

    Chuck one thing about it the young ones might get introduced to weed a little sooner plenty of that around there

  18. Chuck says:

    This could be something great! Great spirit and education under one roof. A true and inclusive education centre for all ages.

  19. wevil says:

    the meeting was held at a time of day when most could not leave work to attend

  20. wevil says:

    at the meeting today concerning these proposals it appears that it was already cut and dried carved in stone the proposals went through with only 2 or 3 trustees voting against chairman of the board brfore the meeting started told he was not in favour of putting JK to Grade 12 at PECI he spoke with a forked tongue and voted for it i hope that there is nothing that goes wrong for his sake it is going to take about 17.5 million dollars over 5 years to put PECI in the shape it needs in for this venture. what is to take place there during the years the very young students are put in before the school is totally ready the people of the COUNTY have been shafted again.BRAVO CHAIRMAN

  21. Dennis Fox says:

    As I stated earlier, declining enrollment is happening across the province and in many areas across Canada – not just in PEC. The concept of having small schools, with a small number of kids has generally never been supported by the public – for cost reasons. As a result, every Bd. of Ed. is funded on a per student ratio. The more students, the more money you get. While I know it is a controversial issue, perhaps here in Ontario we need to do what other provinces have done – fund one school system, Truly to have a system that still uses the B.N.A. Act to justify its existence is ridiculous and financially unsustainable.

  22. Renay Weissman-Stanners says:

    Actually, as an occasional teacher who has worked at most of the Elementary Schools here, I can see that most schools across Ontario are desperate for major infrastructure repairs and the HPEDSB is no exception. I also see that a lot of thought is going into solving today’s pressures, however, due consideration must be taken for the children from the younger families that are beginning to make their way to the County. No, this will not increase dramatically in the next couple of years but,10 years down the road might see quite an increase in demand for classroom space. I hope that this will be given serious attention in this planning process. Otherwise, most staff and students should benefit eventually from these changes. I also hope that what works well for students and their families will be considered as children relocate so that best practices from each school will be honoured. I also would insist that a special committee be established to assist in a hands on way with the serious behavior issues that will occur as students from different environments are merged. Ask any occasional teacher how they select the schools that they prefer to work at and you will know what I mean. Having retired from working at the TDSB, I can confidently say that the HPEDSB seems to have more staff available to address student issues and this is commendable. This will continue to be crucial as children and their families adjust to these major changes!

  23. Gary Mooney says:

    Looks like this is not just a County issue. There’s a Toronto Star article today that suggests that the problem is much broader. Google “slew of rural school closures”.

  24. kelly says:

    we moved to sophiasburgh in the summer because of the community and the small friendly school for our 2 small kids. It’s the first school that has warmly welcomed my son and he has finally felt comfortable and wants to go to school. Hearing of the closure is a disappointment. We will seriously consider homeschooling if indeed Sophiasburgh closes. what a shame.

  25. Bobbi says:

    St Greg’s better start planning an addition! It’s a shame that this solution is their best solution. Young kids shouldn’t have to be exposed to high school problems before their time. Closing schools rips out the heart of young families’ community and long bus rides wear down enthusiasm for education and extra-curriculars. Close Pinecrest and divide them between CML and QE. Close Sophiasburg and send them to QE. Close Mass/Red and send them to Kente- it’s literally less than 5 minutes away. Send the Gr 7/8’s from QE to a separate section of PECI. If the schools are closed, they are just going to sit and rot like North Marysburg. Mass/Red has the best chance of resale, and sadly, Sophiasburg has one of the tiniest populations. Of all places to be forward-thinking about solutions, education should be at the forefront! It’s a shame that the bottom-line takes precedence over the health and wellbeing of the students.

  26. Argyle says:

    One public school system, supported by the provincial government and taxpayers. This would go a long way to easing funding, enrolment and duplication of services issues. The bureaucrats do not care about everyone’s personal preferences, they only wish to appease their politicial masters.

  27. Gary Mooney says:

    We do need to increase the number of young families in the County, and are having some success in attracting young entrepreneurs / business owners who want to improve their work/life balance.

    But wait, there’s more needed. I think that the County ought to develop a strategy for attracting young families, emphasizing (1) a safe place to bring up kids, (2) good schools, (3) affordable housing and (4) lots of things for kids to do year-round.

    Re affordable housing, prices here are highly affordable when compared to the GTA, but are more expensive than in the rest of Quinte.

    Re the schools, Dennis Fox makes a good point: proximity of schools to residential areas is very important. This is especially true of public schools, so the plan to continue with a public school in Wellington is a good one.

  28. Drew Byford says:

    Dennis Fox you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Unfortunately you are only going to get lip service out of the politicians at every level regarding at the least sustaining rural populations. We shouldn’t need to increase immigration levels however the average family in Ontario has 1.6 children and has been declining for 40 years. Immigrants largely locate in the cities. Women are more career oriented now and having kids later in life, shortening the timeframe to have larger families. Family farms are now near extinction. Not to mention the expense of raising children today is getting nothing short of ridiculous. Many factors contribute to the decline of young rural populations, far too many to discuss here. However I n our County there is an obvious population increase that is an anomaly due to “the place to holiday or retire”. They know this is not a trend, but a long term demographic shift, and young people are not needed to sustain our population/tax base. Tell me one good financial reason why a couple would want to raise a family here? There is nothing here and hasn’t been in decades. I’m afraid the current proposal for closing rural, and amalgamating primary schools to the towns and cities, is here inevitably.

  29. Hildagard says:

    Leave Queen Elizabeth School open. Sophiasburgh students to QE. Close Pinecrest. If students live closer to QE, send them there. If they live closer to Wellingston, send them to the new school in Wellington that should replace Kente and Mass./Rednersville.
    Look what has been happening in Belleville and Stirling. They’ve closed schools and amalgamated school by building new ones and now find they don’t have enough room in the schools that students have moved to and the new schools are overcapacity! Wow–what poor planning!!
    I can just see this happening in the County! Shipping all those students to PECI and then in about 5 years, PECI will be over capacity! Queen Elizabeth will be long gone–and there we are in a mess like Belleville is facing now–having to move 7’s and 8’s over to Centenial SS. part way through September!

  30. Chuck says:

    I think integrating Kg and upwards to grade 12 at PECI could be a great thing. There are a ton of great teens that would make it want to work. We need more open mindedness on this one.

  31. Dennis Fox says:

    There is no doubt about it, closing a school rips the heart of its surrounding community. No school = no young families moving into the area. If it helps knowing – this is happening across the province, as well as, in many areas across Canada – not in all areas, but in far too many. The obvious solution is for Canadians to make more babies – but at best that is not an immediate solution. In the meantime, the only way to bring in young faces is to increase our immigration levels – which is just fine with me! The more the merrier!

    However, it does make me wonder why our community has been purposely attracting retirees from everywhere? Yes, they do drink wine, and have money to spend on real estate – but offer very little in prolonging the young life of this community. No I am not anti-seniors – I am one myself, but the short sighted workings of ALL levels of government have helped create this situation. As a senior we are equally affected with poor healthcare decisions being made at Queens Park and in Ottawa. But for the County, the desire to promote this place as tourist haven with wind turbines and solar panels, port terminals and dithering decisions over sewage plants and sign by-laws, without a business plan to attract families – just drives me wild! Why do I think of Nero fiddling? It is time for our local government, the Bd. of Ed and our Provincial government to start talking about how to reverse this situation – I mean an honest open public discussion(with the public invited to participate) on how to save our community! The 11th hour is here! If these schools close, then it would be the worst situation imaginable for promoting PEC in the world market. This matter goes beyond politicians just talking about, it demands the attention of everyone -now!

  32. wevil says:

    this is only a proposal at this point this is not a deal carved in stone most people should understand that we cannot keep all these schools going at less than 50 percent capacity it is to expensive to do this and is not justified again this is only a proposal donot circle the wagons and start a riot

  33. Meg says:

    Naturally the population of families with kids has gone down, but may boost again. Closing that many schools and exposing young children to a young adult learning environment (regarding JK to Gradd 12 at PECI) is appalling.
    Whatever happened to the discussions of closing one or two schools, rerouting kids from JK to grade 5 to the more populated schools (Pinecrest, CML) & opening Queen Elizabeth as a Jr. HIGH. (Grades 6-9? ). Less schools, specializing in age brackets would be far more cost effective and dare I say.. better for the education of future generations.

  34. Mike says:

    So final report June 2017. 300+ Pinecrest students to go to PECI 3 months later. Are you kidding me? The logistics in moving that many kids – the classroom needs, teachers, buses. And they’re going to figure that out over the summer? That is just not realistic nor fair for teachers, students and parents.

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