Parents and students from J.H. Putman Public School in Ottawa's west end are hoping to convince school board officials to keep it open, saying it has flourishing arts programming that can't be replicated at other schools.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is considering closing the school in September as part of its western area accommodation review, but it has said it may consider keeping the school open until an addition can be built at Agincourt Road Public School.
On Tuesday night, dozens of people attended a final public information meeting at Woodroffe High School to hear the board's plans for Putman and other schools in the area.
Among those in the audience was 12-year-old Dominick Martin, a Grade 6 student at Putman, and his mother, Caroline LaViolette.
NAC official writes letter supporting school
Martin said he's felt more confident ever since he started playing trumpet in the school band, and he's worried what will happen if the school closes.
"I feel like there's a whole other experience there, and ... I wouldn't be getting that experience at other schools," said Martin.
Last year, Putman's band worked with the National Arts Centre Orchestra to create a new work inspired by Roberta Bondar, Canada's first female astronaut.
After their performance, an NAC conductor "was so excited by some of the students that he offered that they receive additional training from members of our orchestra," wrote Geneviève Cimon, the director of music education and community engagement with the NAC Orchestra, in a letter to school board officials.
Cimon wrote the letter in November to express "how disappointed" she and her colleagues were when they heard that J.H. Putman Public School may close.
School board staff have recommended closing Putman and sending its students to three different elementary schools.
English students would be relocated to Pinecrest Public School, and early french immersion students would be split between Agincourt Road Public School and Woodroffe Avenue Public School, depending on where they live.
Martin's mother, Carolyn LaViolette, said she's concerned Agincourt Road Public School isn't big enough to accommodate extra students and that it won't offer the same level of arts programming.
Board may delay closing Putman
"If you have a group of 300 kids, and you split them across three schools, you're not going to be able to offer the same programming," said LaViolette.
School board officials said they may consider holding off on closing Putman until September 2019, when an addition would be completed at Agincourt Road Public School.
"The parents at Agincourt, the parents at Putman, have identified a concern that Agincourt would be overcrowded … we have identified that perhaps we may have to delay the implementation of that, until we get funding to put an addition on [Agincourt]," said Mike Carson, superintendent of facilities for the school board.
A final decision on the school board's comprehensive review, including the future of Putman Public School, is expected in early March.