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East City students in Peterborough to be transported to Lakefield in 2019-20

Click to play video: 'School board approves busing Peterborough elementary students to Lakefield school'
School board approves busing Peterborough elementary students to Lakefield school
The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board voted Tuesday in favour of busing students from King George Public School to Lakefield starting this fall – Jan 23, 2019

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (KPRDSB) was faced with a decision Tuesday night that would impact more than 300 students: Should pupils from King George Public School in East City be bused to Ridpath Junior Public School in the village of Lakefield?

It’s a distance of 15 kilometers, but a bus ride that can be to an hour long for some kids.

Opened in 1913, King George is being replaced with a new $18 million school that’s scheduled to be ready by September 2020. Since it’s being built on the same site on Hunter Street, the board decided to transport all 335 students to Lakefield during construction.

In the end, the board voted unanimously in favour of the plan to bus students to Ridpath. Before that happened, though, Jennifer Pendrith voiced concern for her seven-year-old daughter, who attends King George.

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“I’d like to suggest that the board reconsider its plan….due to safety concerns associated with travel on County Roads 29 and 32 and Highway 28,” she said.

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“There will always be a risk of transportation, whether it’s a bus on the road or a personal vehicle on the road,” responded school board chairperson Diane Lloyd. “Our bus drivers do the best they can to keep our students safe and there is no doubt in my mind that they will continue to do this.”

Other alternatives were looked at, but Ridpath seemed to be the best fit. It has been vacant since 2017 and needs just a few upgrades to make it ready for students.

WATCH: King George Public School students prepare for the big move to Lakefield

Click to play video: 'King George Public School students prepare for the big move to Lakefield'
King George Public School students prepare for the big move to Lakefield

“We try as much as we can to keep the student body together,” Lloyd said. “These kids are together now and they’ll be out of their school for a year.

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“When they come back they’re going to be together again, so this serves that purpose.”

The board listed the following challenges associated with building on the King George school site are significant and include:

  • Steep grades
  • Drainage
  • Site preparation work
  • Heavy equipment traffic
  • Fire Route Access
  •  Bus and normal parent and city traffic

“The King George property is a unique setting that we know will result in incredible opportunities for students and staff each day,” said Lloyd. “These same features present us with some site challenges, specifically the grades and drainage we need to put in place. As we worked through finalizing design details with our architectural team, it became clear that the level of risk associated with the excavation, and potential for mud slides specifically, meant that we couldn’t ensure the safety of students and staff on the property.”

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