Late last month, the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board (OCCSB) released its staff report on the School Area Review Phase II. The report contained no recommendations, but identified 12 schools which could be considered one way or another in the consolidation process, one of which was St. Elizabeth school on Admiral Avenue.
The staff report outlined a number of options the Board can consider in order to reach its goal of eliminating about 2,100 surplus pupil places from its inventory. The public now has an opportunity for input before any decisions are made. A public information meeting held on February 28 at Notre Dame High School Auditorium provided Board staff with an opportunity to present the report and provide copies.
The elimination of surplus school spaces is required by the Ministry of Education's funding model. School boards must remove these surplus spaces before they can qualify for funding to build new schools in high-growth areas. In the case of the OCCSB, these surplus spaces are mostly in the urban (Ottawa) portion of the Board's jurisdiction, while the demand for new schools is in the outlying new development areas like Cumberland, Kanata and South Nepean.
In addition, the Board is examining the most effective use of its limited resources in terms of the schools it can operate, maintain and staff. If the Board eliminates the excess places from its inventory, it will be able to build five new schools and a major addition to an existing school that were identified in the Board's 15-year Capital Plan as necessary to meet projected enrolment growth.
Decision in April
An Independent Review Panel (IRP) will hold a series of public hearings in early March to receive input into the staff report on School Area Review Phase II. On March 28, the IRP will submit its findings and recommendations to the Board, and in early April there will be a Special Board Meeting to receive public input on the IRP recommendations. On April 25, the Board will be presented with a staff response and recommendations based on input received by the IRP, and then the Board will meet in late April to make their final decisions on School Area Review Phase II.