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November 25th, 2008 - Garry Borroughs presentation to the DSBN

November 25, 2008

Lord Mayor Gary Burroughs, Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor Gary Burroughs reported that the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake passed a motion to do whatever is necessary to keep Niagara District Secondary School open. Lord Mayor Burroughs shared with the Board the initiatives of the Town and community and the challenges that have been faced.

  • * $25,000 was allocated for communications specifically for the NDSS project.
  • A public information piece called "Facts" is regularly published in local newspapers which highlights issues regarding Niagara District Secondary School.
  • Friends of NDSS, the Virgil Business Association and the Town have raised almost $90,000 to assist with efforts to keep NDSS open.
  • A meeting took place with The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education. Minister Wynne was impressed with the efforts of the Town and the residents to work with the School Board.
  • Publication of the Lord Mayorís message, which highlights the importance of keeping NDSS open.
  • Messages and showcasing on radio station CKTB.
  • The Town is working on a top of the line recruitment brochure. Kim Yielding, the School Boardís Manager of Communications and Public Relations, submitted some vibrant and exciting drafts and the Town is looking forward to a final draft.
  • New programs in social justice, agriculture, an International Baccalaureate Program, a golf academy, and recruiting international students are some program proposals to keep the high school open.

  • Lord Mayor Burroughs stated that one obstacle to enrolment at the high school is that parents are reluctant to send their students to NDSS because they believe it is closing, and that perception needs to be corrected. The Virgil Business Association is instrumental in moving the International Baccalaureate Program forward. However, some members of the Boardís Senior Team appear to be attempting to discourage the Virgil Business Association from reaching an agreement with the Board. Lord Mayor Burroughs expressed his concern that the School Board has no plan in place for keeping the school open and no community plan to recruit new students. Lord Mayor Burroughs stated that it appears Board staff have put more time and energy into creating barriers. Lord Mayor Burroughs noted that recent letters he received from the Director and the Chair misrepresent the Townís position on the issues. Lord Mayor Burroughs clarified that the Town has always supported one school to replace Virgil and Colonel John Butler Public Schools next to Niagara District Secondary School, and the Town also supports the possible relocation of a community centre adjacent to Niagara District Secondary School. Lord Mayor Burroughs questioned why the School Board would instruct their staff to pursue alternative sites for the new elementary school. Lord Mayor Burroughs asked why anyone would approve using land within an urban area that could be used to build homes, and he asked why the School Board would consider spending money to build on a new site when it already owns Niagara District Secondary School lands. Lord Mayor Burroughs stated the enrolment at the high school is declining due to the decline of eligible persons enrolling. The fact is the secondary school population base in Niagara-on-the-Lake has risen 14% in the past 10 years. The retention rate has declined the schoolís population and the School Board has significant control over the retention rate. Lord Mayor Burroughs suggested that the Board adopt a policy that students must attend their home boundary school except in certain circumstances. Lord Mayor Burroughs also cited the School Boardís failure to keep the high school in good repair as a contributing factor in retention rates. Lord Mayor Burroughs recalled that projects were not completed in 2005 under the Good Places to Learn funding allocation because these monies were only to be allocated for schools that will be open for 10 years. It appears the School Board decided in 2005 that NDSS would close. Lord Mayor Burroughs expressed satisfaction with the ARC recommendations to retain three elementary schools and to keep NDSS open. Lord Mayor Burroughs reiterated that the Town and the community are fully prepared to work with the School Board to keep NDSS open and he asked that the Board work with the Town and the community in a meaningful way to keep the high school open.

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