'I'm angry and I'm disappointed': 6 Ottawa schools to close

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board made the final decision Wednesday night to shutter six west-end schools, and the same fate is expected for Rideau High School in a vote next week.

It's been almost 20 years since board has had to make such sweeping facility decisions, CFO says

Gemma Nicholson, a parent of a student at Century Public School, said she came to the meeting to make one final plea to keep the school open despite believing minds were already made up. (CBC)

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board made the final decision Wednesday night to shutter six west-end schools, and the same fate is expected for Rideau High School in a vote next week.

Discussions had gone on for months as board trustees grappled with the province's decision to cut funding for under-populated schools.

By September, Greenbank and D. Aubrey Moodie middle schools will close as the board creates Grade 7 to 12 high schools.

Century, Leslie Park and Grant Alternative schools will also be shuttered by September, and J.H. Putman will close.

'This is different for us'

Debates about closing schools aren't new, but the board's chief financial officer, Mike Carson, said it's been about 18 years since board officials have had to make such sweeping facility decisions.

"Back in the days of the Harris government, school boards were under pressure to deal with access space in a very short time frame," Carson said. "At that time we had recommended the closure of six or seven schools, but in fact, I think [there were] only two or three where the closure actually proceeded. So this is different for us."

Due to the new provincial funding rules, other school boards are making similar decisions. For instance, eastern Ontario's Upper Canada District School Board is considering the closure of 12 schools. 

Only a small group of parents came out for the Ottawa board's final decision on the closure of six west-end schools.

Mike Carson, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board's chief financial operator, said the board hasn't had to make this many changes in almost 20 years. (CBC)

Final decision on Rideau High School next week

Century parent Gemma Nicholson, who had come to several meetings, made one last plea to keep her school community together but said she knew minds were already made up. 

"So right now I'm angry and I'm disappointed and I'm sad," she said.

School board staff also recommend the closure of Rideau High School and sending its 400 students to Gloucester. Both schools are currently at 40 per cent capacity. That final decision is expected March 7.

Board chair Shirley Seward said no one wants to close schools, but the reality is that some are too empty and others are overcrowded, and a re-balancing is needed. The board expects to save millions of dollars by closing the schools.

Board chair Shirley Seward said the reality is that the school closures are necessary. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Closures at a glance

  • September 2017: D. Aubrey Moodie Intermediate School (students to attend Bell High School).
  • September 2017:​ Greenbank Middle School (students to attend Sir Robert Borden High School, D. Roy Kennedy Public School and Bell High School). 
  • September 2017: Leslie Park Public School (students to attend Briargreen Public School and Woodroffe Avenue Public School).
  • September 2017: Grant Alternative School (students to attend Regina Alternative School).
  • September 2017: Century Public School (students to attend Carleton Heights Public School).
  • September 2018: J.H. Putman Public School students will begin moving (students to attend Woodroffe Avenue Public School, Agincourt Road Public School, Pinecrest Public School, D. Roy Kennedy Public School and Sir Robert Borden High School).

Some other changes

  • September 2017: Regina Street Public School will become a JK to 6 alternative program school.
  • September 2017: Bells Corners, Lakeview and Bayshore schools will become JK to 6 schools.
  • September 2017: Bell, Sir Robert Borden and Merivale high schools will become Grade 7 to 12 schools.
  • September 2017: Severn Avenue Public School will become a JK to Grade 6 school for immersion students.
  • September 2018: Woodroffe Avenue Public School will become a JK to Grade 8 school.