Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board trustees on Tuesday approved an intermediate school for grades 7 and 8 at Crestwood Secondary School in Peterborough beginning this September.
The decision came despite a recommendation from the board’s resource committee not to open the intermediate school until September 2021.
“Student accommodation decisions are challenging,” said board chairperson Diane Lloyd after Tuesday’s vote. “Administration has heard from some parents about their concerns throughout the last few months as part of consultation and discussion with the affected school communities. We heard from more here this evening who took the time to share their thinking with us.”
The decision aims to address student accommodation pressures within Crestwood’s feeder schools since Westmount Public School in Peterborough and Millbrook/South Cavan Public School are over capacity, the board said.
In addition, James Strath Public School in Peterborough is presently at capacity and is projected to be above capacity by 2023. All the schools are projected to have consistent growth over the next decade with no room for expansion at Westmount, according to the board.
“In looking at the timing for the new school, I think the board simply felt that the need was great enough, with the congestion and accommodation pressures experienced by students at these schools currently, to move forward now and not wait another year,” said Lloyd.
Prior to the vote, the board heard from 16 delegates — parents and students — expressing either concern about the decision or appealing to the board to delay the move for a year to allow parents time to make adjustments.
“We appreciate and respect the viewpoints of all that have been brought before us, but the reality is that we are facing real accommodation pressures within these elementary schools, and we have space at Crestwood Secondary School to house them,” said Lloyd. “We always strive to plan in the best interests of students and make our decisions accordingly.”
Grade 7 and 8 students from Kawartha Heights Public School, Millbrook/South Cavan Public School, North Cavan Public School and English stream students from Westmount Public School will attend Crestwood this fall.
“The intermediate school model, with grades 7 to 12 within a single school site, is a common and successful program throughout our board,” said Lloyd. “It provides the opportunity for students to benefit from access to the broader facilities available within a secondary school.”
Grade 7 and 8 French immersion students from Westmount will attend Adam Scott Intermediate School in Peterborough, and James Strath Public School will remain a kindergarten to Grade 8 school with its student population very close to capacity, the board said.
Along with addressing student accommodation issues, the new intermediate school will mean fewer transitions for students, the proposal notes. Currently, students from Kawartha Heights and North Cavan public schools transition to James Strath Public School for grades 7 and 8 and then to secondary school.
With the establishment of an intermediate school at Crestwood Secondary School, one of those transitions will be eliminated.
“Change can be difficult, and we appreciate that,” said Lloyd. “Staff will continue to be purposeful in supporting students as we move forward with this transition process to the new school. In addition, students, parents and staff will be part of the planning to make this transition as smooth as possible.”