An update from Sandy Levin –
END OF AN ERA – SHERWOOD FOREST P.S. TO CLOSE
A BOUNDARY REVIEW FOR ORCHARD PARK P.S.
Before I start, I wanted to thank everyone who has been involved in this process. That includes those who toughed it out at the Board meeting this week (we didn’t get a decision until almost 11 pm), those who made presentations to the Board and to the ARC and of course, to the members of the ARC who spent a lot of time and effort on a good solution, only to have most of it disregarded by school board staff.
At the school board meeting of June 28th, the Board voted to close Sherwood Forest Public School as of June 30, 2013. It also agreed not to declare the site surplus any earlier than June 30, 2013 which gives the community the two years to try and find a way to keep the site as an important part of our neighbourhood.
(As an aside, this week, a couple of members of the ratepayers executive met with a representative from the city’s Community Services Department to point out that there is no city owned playground equipment in the entire area. This helped her to understand why the District Park on the other side of Wonderland Road is not our community park space.)
In addition to voting to close Sherwood Forest P.S., the school board agreed to do a boundary review prior to the closing that would look at the school boundaries for Orchard Park P.S. This was because the projected enrollment for Orchard Park after 2013 is still under the school’s capacity. This review is a good thing. For one reason, an enrollment near to or even slightly over capacity would avoid having another school closure hanging over the community’s head. The other reason is that it may lead to better gym facilities being provided for Orchard Park, something the parents there have asked for. The only odd thing about the boundary review is that this idea was raised by the ARC during the process (as a means to keep Sherwood Forest P.S. open), but it was rejected by the administrative representative from the Board to the ARC.
Another strange moment at the Board meeting was when the senior superintendent presenting the report argued against giving the community more than two years to find an alternative to keep public access to the space. She stated that the Administration already gave one more year due to public input. This is simply not the case. The Board’s administrative recommendation at the start of the ARC was to close the school in June 2012, but during the ARC process (the October, 2010 meeting which I attended), the administrative representative indicated to the ARC that due to time lines required for design, tender and build, it would be June 2013 before Sherwood Forest would be closed. Unfortunately, due to Board processes, none of us in the audience could correct the record, and it is likely this “misstatement” kept some of the trustees from pursing the idea of retaining the site longer.
Councillor Branscombe has already given assurances that she will work with city staff to see what can be done to keep the space the school board currently owns; available for public access. I will keep you informed as this plays out.