Concerned parents plead to keep Rideau High School open

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board held a public consultation Tuesday on a proposal to close Rideau High School and transfer students to Gloucester High School.

Moving students to Gloucester would allow more programming options, board counters

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is proposing to close Rideau High School and send students to Gloucester High School. (Steve Fischer)

Some parents whose children attend Rideau High School are speaking against an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board plan that would close the school by September of next year and move students to Gloucester High School.

The school has been a perfect fit for his daughter's high school education, Monjur Chowdhury said at a public consultation the board held Tuesday night.

"There is a huge multicultural community... We need a school like Rideau High School," Chowdhury said.

Parent Monjur Chowdhury says Rideau High School is a perfect fit for his daughter. (Steve Fischer)

Parents speak out against closure

Several parents, including Chowdhury, argued students would suffer from the disruption of changing schools, especially the large population of new immigrants.

The closure would have a negative impact on the entire community, said former Overbrook Community Association president Sheila Perry, since Rideau serves as a local hub for immigrants, indigenous groups and young children who attend pre-school at the facility.

Rideau High School is an example of what a community high school should be.- Sheila Perry, former president of the Overbrook Community Association

"Rideau High School is an example of what a community high school should be," Perry said.

"This is something the province and the boards are trying to promote, which is real outreach and inclusiveness."

Board promises improved access to programming 

The board's superintendent of instruction said transferring students to Gloucester would create a more vibrant atmosphere since resources could be focused on one facility.  

"You increase their access to a number of programs and provide them with more opportunities to move forward," Brett Reynolds told the audience.

"There are significant advantages in terms of opportunity where there are more students congregated in a school."

The board is in the midst of a comprehensive review meant to address shifting student enrolment and 11,500 "empty pupil places."

Almost 1,000 of those spaces would be saved by sending the 400 students enrolled at Rideau High School to Gloucester, which currently has 665 students.

Right now both schools are at 40 per cent capacity.

Rideau is the only school in Ottawa's east end proposed to be closed next year.

The board held a similar consultation in the city's west end last week, where seven schools are being considered for closure.

A final decision is expected in March.