In last week’s issue of The Leader, we reported on a transportation issue affecting residents in South Dundas receiving transportation to a school in South Dundas. That story concerned student Emerson McMillan having to use an alternative address in order to board a bus to Seaway District High School. This story clearly struck a nerve. This isn’t the first time The Leader has reported on this issue. In 2018, the Hewetson family in Elma went public with their transportation difficulties with Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario, and the Upper Canada District School Board.
Since last week’s story was published, The Leader has been made aware of 12 additional families who have had, or are currently having, issues over bus transportation from their South Dundas residences to an UCDSB school in South Dundas. The majority of these issues specifically involve transportation to Seaway. Three years ago, the community successfully fought to keep local UCDSB schools slated for closure open. Unfortunately issues like transportation, boundaries, and program offerings continue to exacerbate enrollment issues here.
Last fall, UCDSB chair John McAllister stood before SDG Counties council, stating the board wants to improve cooperation and collaboration with municipalities. South Dundas council has also said it wants to work with area school boards to support schools in our community. A key step in such cooperation is this: re-examine the boundaries of Seaway District High School, Morrisburg Public School, and Iroquois Public School.
We are not advocating for a full scale accommodation review to reassign feeder schools, or to close schools. And we do not advocate expanding boundaries into other rural municipalities to “take” students from neighbouring locations.
Officials from the UCDSB, STEO, and South Dundas should sit down and review all of the actual transportation issues. Look at the boundaries. Use maps and other data. Ensure that residents who live on the edges of the municipality receive the services to which they are entitled, including bus transportation to a school in the South Dundas community.
Until this is done, these community problems will continue to fester. As South Dundas plans for new residential growth with a new subdivision about to break ground, now is the time to fix this issue.