April 19, 2018

School closure process on hold

The public school board has put the brakes on a process that could have studied the possibility of closing Ross R. MacKay School in Hillsburgh.
A draft of the Upper Grand District School Board’s Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP) released this week has no new priorities or actions proposed for this area.
“There is uncertainty around the timing and scope of wastewater servicing, and as such, it is not appropriate to identify elementary accommodation priorities for the Erin Elementary Review Area at this time,” the draft report says. 
“The Board will review LTAP projections and priorities annually and will reflect future decisions of the Town of Erin.”
At a Feb. 28 meeting to prepare for this report, many local residents expressed support for keeping the school open. They also suggested a boundary review to increase MacKay’s catchment area, the transfer of some special education classes to the school, and the possibility of making Brisbane Public School entirely French Immersion, which could bring more English-only students to MacKay.
There will be more public consultation before the final plan goes to trustees in June, including a meeting on May 2 in the Erin Public School gym with a question and answer session.
With the Town of Erin undertaking a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment to determine a preferred alternative for wastewater servicing in Erin village and Hillsburgh, the board has published two scenarios, one with minimal growth and the other with moderate growth.
If the town gets adequate funding and decides to proceed with a wastewater system, construction could start within five years.
Without wastewater, more than 400 student spaces are expected to be empty in Erin public elementary schools by 2022. Ross R. Mackay’s population of 90 students would drop to 64, using only 32 per cent of the school’s capacity.
That rate would stay low without housing growth, but enrolment could rebound to 165 (83 per cent usage) in ten years if new subdivisions are built.