A Few Thoughts on Monday Night – Accommodation Review

  • I was pointed to the Greater Essex County District School Board Accommodation Plan which is up for discussion/debate on Tuesday night. So I skimmed through it and figured I would add a few thoughts.
  • It is always interesting to see what schools are overcapacity, under-capacity, at risk of closing and where a new school might be coming.
    • Before I dig into specific schools (families) that caught my eye, a quick thought about the data. As best I can understand (there is no methodology listed) the report is anchored in Census Data – as a basis for population projections etc. and then enrollment data at the school is coupled with that to project out.
    • The challenge is that this year (and next) are about as far from the Census as you can get as it is to be conducted next spring (2021 COVID pending). It is curious that they board doesn’t augment their data with inter-census population projections or Provincial estimates both of which can be acquired from my understanding at a municipal level (although not publicly available).
    • You can see the 2019 Review Report for year over year comparison. You also notice also a very similar layout and even some cases, text in sections directly copied from one report to the other. It has been a busy year for the school board and year over year variation probably isn’t significant (2020 outstanding) that being said, there is an opportunity to put annualized context for the Trustees to consider.
      • Not only could population projections linked above could be included but so could:
        • building permit data to show which schools are in growing communities/areas
        • active transit data from the census and school,
        • busing data – how many buses service the school but public transit and school buses,
        • traffic data around pick up and drop off times
        • socio-economic data and other equity indicators to contextualized the schools and surrounding neighbourhoods.
      • Post-2022 when the board collects data on racialized populations it would be interesting to see how concentrations of certain population groups align around certain schools.
  • Windsor’s Core is still home to many of the schools that look to be underutilized. The Schools that feed into Herman, Kennedy, Walkerville Collegiate, Westview Freedom Academy and Riverside for the most part are underutilized.
    • Even schools you don’t think are underutilized, like flagship schools – David Suzuki PS is expected to remain under 85% capacity until the 2030s.
    • The core does seem somewhat plagued with surges in enrolment linked to newcomers arriving. The report mentions swings of +/- 20 kids year over year depending on the families that arrive and settle in the community.
      • Moving families seem to be a challenge to handle in the core.
    • In southern parts of the core, the schools Kennedy family (Queen Victoria, John Campbell and John McWilliams) are all under-capacity and the report states: “A potential consolidation would be a strong business case to the Ministry to potentially be approved for a new school. This, in turn, may help begin the journey to revitalize part of the downtown core.
  • The image above shows Queen Victoria, John Campbell and John McWilliams all of which, as mentioned above, are under-capacity.
    • The hole in the between those schools comes from the catchment of Roseland Public School (situated further south), currently at 120% capacity. I don’t understand why it is laid out that way. Massey a secondary school that is over capacity also captures this area, not Kennedy. A simple solution would be to flip these neighbourhoods.
    • East Windsor schools are currently going through a realignment with Parkview/Eastwood under construction and Forest Glade waiting for Ministry approval.
    • South Windsor schools are largely at capacity or overcapacity.
      • Only Central PS isn’t at capacity, but it is projected to be by 2025.
  • In the County:
    • Despite a 2016 population decline in Leamington, the majority of schools are in the appropriate capacity range (Mt Carmel-Blythewood being under-capacity while MD Bennie being overcapacity).
    • In Kingsville new consolidated K-12 School will solve most of the capacity challenges. The fact that Pelee Island has a school is surprising to me.
    • Amherstburg is more or less all good, and they are getting a new high school soon.
    • In Essex, Grosefield North is overcapacity with some Porta-pack issues leading to a request for a “new school” being submitted to the Ministry. As the school reaches up into Lakeshore through Woodslee it would be interesting to know if the school is more Lakeshore than Essex.
      • Both Colchester and Essex PS are in acceptable capacity limits for the foreseeable future.
    • The schools that serve extreme South Windsor and LaSalle like Prince Andrew are over capacity which will be relived by the Lagacy Oak Trail school. The rest of the LaSalle seems to be stable for the most part.
    • Out in Lakeshore the schools in the built up areas are at or over capacity while Centennial School that covers the large rural area is under-capacity but additional funding due to it’s rural status is received by the Board. Should that funding be lost, it could be at risk.
    • Tecumseh Vista elementary stream is under-capacity but will be the beneficiary of Sandwich South development when it occurs.
      • A.V. Graham, and D.M. Eagle are near or over capacity respectively. With a new “North Shore school” on the horizon it could take some of the pressure off the existing schools and possibly some spillover from Lakeshore.
    • Below is your COVID Impacts as online learning has emerged as a viable option for some:
  • This is a really interesting table in my opinion. Showing which school students that are virtually learning, would attend normally. Also given that virtual learning likely here to stay, this is the first snapshot of the potential impacts long term. If the funding formula for online learning is detached from physicals schools, the impacts will be massive.
  • At a Secondary level for the most part, the under-capacity schools at a elementary level roll up to under-capacity secondary schools. Massey is the only school that faces significant overcapacity issues ~115% while a number while a number of schools have various levels of under utilization.
    • The new Kingsville and Amherstburg Highschools will remove some of the excess capacity from the County.
  • French Emersion seems to continue to grow in popularity which as the report suggests could be a future driver of capacity issues and staffing at English tract schools.
  • Schools under-construction:
  • Next year will see 1 new school and some childcare in the County coming online with 2022 being a big year as multiple schools coming online leading to a number of shifts in the system.
  • It will be interesting to see what the business case for a revamped Marlborough School in West Windsor looks like. Obviously there is space for redevelopment on the site but it would be tearing down a heritage school.
    • I walk by there every day with Izzy so I have a personal vested interest in this schools.
  • Another Ward 10 schools or expansion to Northwood/Westgate would also be interesting and welcome addition to that part of the city.
  • Some conversations about community hubs are in the report but it doesn’t’ look like any community partners have been willing to step forward at this point.
  • As for risk of consolidation and closures, parents in Windsor’s core need to be aware. The Herman family of schools in Wards 5 and 8 seem particularly vulnerable, as do some of the downtown schools.
    • Nothing explicate seems to be in the works but COVID impacts due to online learning could put added pressure on physical schools.
    • A number of French Immersion programs are projected to continue to grow, which means that schools without FI, could be at future risk.
  • All in all, the board meeting should be interesting Tuesday night.

3 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on Monday Night – Accommodation Review

  1. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Week 36 | gingerpolitics

  2. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Week 56 | gingerpolitics

  3. Pingback: A Few Monday Night Thoughts – New Schools Edition | gingerpolitics

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