Stittsville parents lobbying OCDSB for public high school

Stittsville parents presented the case for a public high school in the growing community of 30,000 at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board meeting Tuesday night.

Public school students travel up to 20 kilometres to South Carleton High School in Richmond

Jenny Guth is part of a group of Stittsville parents who want a public high school in the growing community. (CBC)

Stittsville teens should not have to travel up to 20 kilometres to attend public high school, parents said Tuesday night as they presented the case for a new school in the growing community of nearly 30,000.

Though Stittsville has a Catholic high school, public school students must travel to South Carleton High School in Richmond. 

"It's difficult for students and parents," parent Jenny Guth told CBC News ahead of her Tuesday presentation to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. "We're simply wanting something that will keep our kids here and allow them to stay in the community and contribute to the community."

Guth is part of a group of parents that conducted an online survey about the issue — and out of 1,700 respondents, 90 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that Stittsville should have a new high school.

The need for a new school in Stittsville has been on the OCDSB's top ten list of priorities since 2006. As the school board is expected to present its capital priorities to the Ministry of Education in July, parents want to make sure their request is top of mind.

Guth told the OCDSB Tuesday evening that parents were "leapfrogging over" the province to lobby the board directly because her local MPP Jack MacLaren has not been receptive to getting involved in the call for a new school.

Local trustee supports new school

Lynn Scott, the OCDSB trustee for the Stittsville area, said she believes there are enough students in Stittsville to justify its own public high school. 

"I think the challenge very much is one of provincial funding," Scott said.

"We just have to keep on telling the province that what we have for parents of students who live in Stittsville is a situation where they don't have very much of a choice. If they want their children to go to a community school the only choice is a Catholic high school. And for many parents, that is not an acceptable choice."

I think the challenge very much is one of provincial funding.- OCDSB trustee Lynn Scott

Scott added that it's ultimately up to the province to decide which of its top list of capital priorities receives funding.

Jennifer Smith, another parent, said the limited public transportation between the more rural community of Richmond and Stittsville will pose a challenge once her three children, who are involved in extracurricular activities, graduate from A. Lorne Cassidy, a public elementary school in Stittsville that teaches students through Grade 8. 

"For me, it's the drive," she said. "I don't know how I'm going to be able to manage it."

Guth said that though her son is only five years old, she's looking ahead because funding has been slow to come.

"I wanted to get involved now in case it does take a long time because once we get funding, we still have to plan it and build it. So it will take several years after we get the funding," she said.


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