Province turns down funding for Beaverton school merger

BPS

The planned amalgamation of Beaverton and Thorah Central public schools has hit a huge snag.

In an update Thursday (Sept. 21) that was posted to Beaverton Public School’s website, the Durham District School Board (DDSB) noted that the project was not approved for funding by the Ministry of Education.

The letter would seem to suggest the Province recommended a partnership with the Durham Catholic board regarding Holy Family Catholic School over construction of a new facility.

“The ministry asked the board to consider and review a joint-use school solution with other Durham school boards. Upon review, the board determined that a joint-use solution was not feasible,” the update reads.

It goes on to say that the DDSB has resubmitted the original business case for the consolidation of the two schools on Sept. 8 and will provide an update to the community once a decision is made.

Though plans have not been finalized, the new school would likely include nine classrooms (including two for special education), three kindergarten rooms, dedicated space for specialized programs (such as environmental sciences and art). Other perks could include a 4,000-square-foot gymnasium and a 1,700-square-foot library.

The update notes that projects submitted for this round of funding must be completed by the 2020-2021 school year.

Long rumoured, the DDSB launched a formal accommodation review of the two schools last October.

At that time, residents were presented with two options –  construction of a new building at the Beaverton PS site or the status quo. When a public meeting was held in December, the possibility of a new school on the Thorah Central site was also under consideration. A fourth option, preservation of the original Beaverton PS building (built in 1924) with an addition, was added following comments at the public meeting.

Trustees voted on Feb. 21 to build the new school at the Beaverton PS site despite some concerns from residents.

“Some community members, nine in total, expressed concern regarding the proposed construction of the new school on the Beaverton PS site given the site is smaller than that of Thorah Central PS. The site size for the proposed school would not support the existing track; however, board staff are in discussions with the Township of Brock regarding a potential partnership involving the use of the park space across from Beaverton PS,” a DDSB report reads.

It also noted that some residents raised issues with the size of the new school, which could accommodate as many as 340 students.

“Based on input received, nine community members are also concerned about the size of the proposed school given that portables are contemplated. As outlined in responses to the community at the public meeting, e-mails, voicemails and on the comment sheets, the site of the building would continue to be assessed by staff based on refined enrolment projections as the project progresses,” the report reads.

If the project ultimately receives funding from the Province, the DDSB plans on forming a transition committee comprised of staff, students and parents from the two schools.

Up to $20,000 in funding would be available to the group, which would be an “excellent opportunity to work together to create an action plan that co-ordinates and allows the school communities to become united,” according to the DDSB.

“In past practice, these committees have designed activities, events, assemblies and parent/family nights that focus on developing a new culture, building relationships and an exciting process that creates a shared vision, welcoming environment and a transition that bonds Brock school communities.”