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Board committee votes to initiate Pupil Accommodation Review for Yarker & Odessa
September 28, 2016

The School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee (SE/SCC) of the Limestone District School Board voted on Sept. 28 to recommend a Pupil Accommodation Review, or PAR, be initiated for Yarker Family School & Odessa Public School to begin in the fall of 2016.

This follows the receipt of an Initial Staff Report on both schools outlining the various accommodation options and rationale for the schools going forward. The report recommends the closure of Yarker Family School and the relocation of students to Odessa Public School. It’s important to note that no decisions have been made at this time. The recommendations will now be explored through the Pupil Accommodation Review.

“We understand that discussing the potential consolidation or closure of a school may be anxious for the school communities involved,” says LDSB Board Chair Paula Murray. “We want our students, families, staff and broader communities to know that we are committed to hearing all voices and making sound decisions that will best support student programming while ensuring fiscal responsibility over the long term.”

The decision to initiate a review has to be approved at the next regular Board meeting scheduled for Oct. 19, 2016.

In the meantime, staff and families of the affected schools will be notified and tentative planning will begin.

The review process is a comprehensive one that is scheduled to begin in late October and conclude in the late spring of 2017. There are a number of changes in the Board’s Pupil Accommodation Review Policy #15 that were updated earlier this year based upon the Ministry of Education Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline which was revised in 2015. The format, content and role of the Initial Staff Report is one of these changes, as is the way in which consultation feedback is collected and used.

As outlined in Board policy a Public Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) will be established. This committee is made up of parents, staff and administration from the affected schools as well as support staff from the Board. The area Trustee will also serve as ad hoc committee member to monitor the PARC progress.

The PARC serves as the official conduit for information sharing between the Board and school communities. It may comment on the Initial Staff Report and may seek clarification. The PARC may also provide options other than those in the Initial Staff Report as long as supporting rationale is included.

The PARC will include four working committee meetings and two public meetings within a six-month period. All meetings of the PARC are open to the public to observe.

Following the PARC process, staff will produce a final report to be delivered to the SE/SCC in the spring of 2017. The SE/SCC will hold a meeting to allow the public to make formal delegations concerning the Final Staff Report.

It is expected that the Board of Trustees will make its final decision regarding this Pupil Accommodation Review at its May 17, 2017 meeting.

“The Board of Trustees is committed to open decision making, and all information about the accommodation review process, will be shared widely,” says Chair Murray. Meeting dates, agendas, minutes and background information will be published to the Board website and shared with affected school communities.

For more information, please contact:
Karen Smith, Communications Officer
613.544.6920 ext. 314 | 613.328.0947 mobile
Jane Douglas, Communications Officer
613.544.6920 ext. 311 | 613.328.0916 mobile


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Pupil Accommodation Review?
A Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) is a public consultation process mandated by the Ministry of Education that school boards must follow when considering school consolidation or closures. This process is completed to determine if school buildings are being best utilized in areas with low enrolment and substantial excess space. You can find more information in the Board’s Pupil Accommodation Review Policy #15.

What does this mean for the schools involved?
Several schools were recently identified for potential closure in the Long-Term Accommodation Plan released in May 2016. These recommendations are intended to improve operating efficiencies and to provide stronger program opportunities for LDSB students. You can read more about the LTAP including some FAQs on our website. The Initial Staff Report, presented to the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee (SE/SCC) on Sept. 28 2016, recommends closing Yarker Family School and relocating students to Odessa Public School. It’s important to note that no decisions have been made at this time. The recommendations will now be explored through the Pupil Accommodation Review.

Why has the Board identified these schools as a review area for potential consolidation?
Like most school boards across Ontario, Limestone has been experiencing declining enrolment and excess space in its schools for several years. When a school has low enrolment and substantial excess space, the school still requires funding for maintenance and operation. One of the key responsibilities of school boards is to ensure the effective and efficient use of space and the funding that is available from the Ministry of Education. This process is outlined in the Board’s Long-Term Accommodation Plan.

What is an Pupil Accommodation Review Committee? What does it do?
A Pupil Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) is formed once a Pupil Accommodation Review has been approved. The PARC serves as the official conduit for information sharing between the Board and school communities. It may comment on the Initial Staff Report and may seek clarification. The PARC may also provide options other than those in the Initial Staff Report as long as supporting rationale is included. This committee is made up of parents, staff and administration from the affected schools as well as support staff from the Board. The area Trustee will also serve as ad hoc committee member to monitor the PARC progress.

How long will this process take?
The review process is comprehensive and will take place over several months. Typically, a review has a timeline of six months. In the case of Yarker and Odessa elementary schools, the review is scheduled to conclude in the late spring of 2017. If the recommendations are approved, transition planning will begin immediately and implementation will commence in September 2018.

What is proposed schedule for PAR meetings and activities?
In compliance with Board Policy 15, a Pupil Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) will be established in October. The PARC will hold a minimum of 4 working meetings between early November and late March. There will be two PARC public meetings scheduled around the end of November and again in early March. One meeting, and more, if needed, will be held with the affected municipality and community partners in either December or January 2017. The presentation of the Final Staff Report to SE/SCC will occur on April 24, 2017. The SE/SCC meeting to hear delegations and consider reports and communication received is scheduled for May 9, 2017. On May 17, 2017, the SE/SCC will further consider reports and communication received and make a recommendation to be considered at the regular Board meeting, also scheduled for May 17, 2017.

What is the input process?
The Board is committed to keeping staff and parents informed throughout the review process. Through the PARC, the community will be well-informed of the process and timelines. There will be opportunities for input at two public meetings where families and community members will have the opportunity to provide feedback and learn more about the recommendations. The first public meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in November.

How will a closure affect staff at the affected schools?
At this point, no decisions have been made so it's too early to know exactly how these changes will impact school staffing. Typically, however, when schools consolidate or close, the Board’s normal staffing process is followed. The Board will be working closely with its federation and unions to provide any support and assistance needed to employees affected by this process.

How can I get updates and get involved in this process?
All information about the accommodation review will be posted on the Board website. Dates, agendas and minutes of all meetings will be posted on the website, along with extensive background information. The Board will also promote public meetings through affected school websites, Synrevoice messages and/or letters to all affected schools, social media (Twitter), and advertisements placed with local media.

What are the next steps?
The decision to initiate a Pupil Accommodation Review for Yarker Family School and Odessa Public School has to be approved by the Committee of the Whole Board at the next regular Board meeting scheduled for Oct. 19, 2016. In the meantime, staff and families of the affected schools will be notified and tentative planning for the review will take place. If the review is approved, the next step will be the creation of a Pupil Accommodation Review Committee (PARC). All information about the accommodation review, including meeting dates will be published to the Board website and shared with affected school communities once dates, times and locations have been confirmed. The entire process is defined in the Board's Pupil Accommodation Review Policy and the Board’s Pupil Accommodation Review Administrative Procedure.