It is hard to believe that just one year ago, the community in South Dundas embarked on a seven month roller coaster courtesy of the Upper Canada District School Board. That roller coaster began with the tabling of the draft plan which called for the closure of 29 schools across the board, including Morrisburg Public School, Iroquois Public School and Seaway District High School. The students from IPS and MPS would be housed at the shuttered high school, while high school students would be split between South Grenville and North Dundas.
It was a difficult and sudden announcement that gutted nearly every community served by the UCDSB. Understandably reaction was swift within all communities affected, including South Dundas. It has been a long time since this community has seen such dedicated engagement to one single task, saving all of our schools.
It is impressive for a community of 10,500 people, to have had nearly 1,000 people stuffed into the gymnasium at Seaway, overflowing into the hallways, cafeteria and classrooms. It was the largest meeting turnout of any of the accommodation review meetings held in the board.
The outpouring of support from the community helped save the schools. Not all communities were as fortunate. Locally, Cardinal lost their elementary school, and Grade 7-12 students from Rothwell-Osnabruck in Ingleside were sent to Avonmore.
One year later, enrolment at Seaway and IPS has increased, while MPS’ parent council is optimistic with their plans for the school.
The school board invested over $1.5 million this summer in renovations and improvements to Seaway. The Ontario Early Years centre has moved into that school, in part due to IPS bursting at the seams. This Friday, a new computer programming lab will be unveiled at Seaway, thanks to a generous donation from Ross Video. That lab will be put to use with the new programming course to start in second semester.
One year later, the future for the UCDSB schools in South Dundas seems brighter. Despite all the successes in saving the schools, it is important to remember that this success, does not mean that South Dundas should rest on its collective laurels. Governments, provincial and school board will change over time. Far too many decisions about education remain out of our direct control. Staying engaged is the best way of ensuring we keep our schools in South Dundas.