UCDSB to hold community use consultation June 6th in Cornwall

Report: Nearly 400 surplus spaces in South Dundas UCDSB schools.

MORRISBURG – The Upper Canada District School Board is hosting a pair of annual meetings for Community Planning and Partnership. The meetings are to engage local communities for facility collaboration.

Two public meetings are scheduled. The June 6th meeting in Cornwall at the General Vanier building (1600 Cumberland Street) will cover schools in the UCDSB East area including the three schools in South Dundas. The second meeting scheduled for June 8th in North Grenville covers UCDSB West schools. The Cornwall meeting will run from 1-3 p.m.

The UCDSB revised its policy for handling partnerships, sponsorships and cooperative ventures in 2017, in order to emphasize seeking opportunities for the surplus space in its schools and use of those schools by the community.

At the planned meetings, the board will discuss the 28 schools that have excessive space, meaning less than 60 per cent of the school is used, or that there are more than 200 surplus student spaces. Two South Dundas schools are included.

Surplus spaces are calculated by ministry guidelines according to Andrea Walasek, manager of communications for the board.

“On-the-ground (OTG) capacity represents the total permanent pupil places in the school, as reported, as of September 2017,” Walasek told The Leader.

The spaces that are surplus are classroom spaces, not specialized rooms like gymnasiums, cafeterias, auditoriums or daycare spaces.

“If a room is ‘purpose built’ for daycare, the room is loaded at ‘0’ and would be factored into the OTG figure,” she said.

The school board follows the Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines for calculating the on-the-ground capacity of classrooms. Those calculations then help create the total capacity for a school.

According to the UCDSB Accommodation Review documents in 2016, rooms that are a minimum of 900 square feet in area are used for a kindergarten class with 26 spaces. Rooms that are a minimum of 700 square feet that are for an elementary class will have 23 spaces. In secondary classrooms that are a minimum of 700 square feet, 21 student spaces are allocated. At either school level, rooms between 400 and 700 square feet are classified as resource rooms and have 12 spaces allocated to them. Special education classrooms at or above 700 square feet are allocated 9 spaces.

Walasek said that Morrisburg Public School’s capacity is 305 students, with an enrollment of 133. This means the school has 172 surplus spaces. Seaway District High School’s capacity is 682 students with 406 enrolled, giving that school 276 surplus spaces. Iroquois Public School has no surplus spaces. IPS has a capacity of 308 and an enrollment of 329, meaning the school is over capacity by 21 students.

Elsewhere in the UCDSB, North Dundas District High School has 387 surplus spaces, including the newly opened T.R. Leger campus. Meanwhile Rothwell-Osnabruck Elementary in Ingleside has 207 surplus spaces.

Prior to the board’s 2016-17 pupil accommodation review, the board held a similar community use meeting. Use statistics from that meeting were part of the board’s PAR presentation.

Community use statistics are up over the last three school years. Overall permit requests have increased from 5256 in the 2015-16 school year to 5894 requests in the current year, a 12 per cent increase.

Total approved permits increased by 13 per cent over the same period, while the number of overall hours used has decreased by 12 per cent.

The board plans to use the feedback from those in attendance to plan for future use of the schools.