Stittsville to get its own public high school

Stittsville students tired of trekking to class 20 kilometres away will soon get a public high school of their own.

OCDSB hopes new school will open by 2021

Grade 6 students from Stittsville Public School celebrate the news that a public high school is coming to their community. Standing behind them, from left to right, are Stittsville Coun. Shad Quadri, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee Lynn Scott, Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli, and the board's director of education, Jennifer Adams.

Stittsville students tired of trekking to class 20 kilometres away will soon get a public high school of their own. 

The Ontario government is investing $37 million into a new public secondary school in the southwest Ottawa community that will accommodate approximately 1,350 students from Grades 7 to 12. 

Bob Chiarelli, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, made the announcement Friday morning. 

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

Frustrating wait

Parents in Stittsville have been pressing the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) for a secondary school in their community of about 30,000 people for some time.  

"It's definitely been very frustrating," said parent Jenny Guth.

Guth and other parents conducted an online survey about the issue.
Parent Jenny Guth said she had begun to lose hope her eight-year-old son would be able to attend a public high school in Stittsville. (CBC)

Of the 1,700 respondents, 90 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that Stittsville should have its own public high school. 

Guth said students travelling to Richmond for class aren't given the same opportunities to participate in after-school activities, also making it difficult for parents to volunteer. Transportation is also an issue, she said.

Guth said she'd started losing hope her eight-year-old son would get to attend a public high school in Stittsville, and was overjoyed at the news this morning.  

A new school in Stittsville has been on the OCDSB's top 10 list of priorities since 2006.

Parents mounted campaign

Trustee Lynn Scott said she's been part of the fight for a new public high school for closer to 20 years, and praised parent volunteers for continuing to pressure provincial politicians. 

"The stack of emails, letters, petitions and surveys that parents in Stittsville have sent to those ministers in support of a public high school for Stittsville would be a lot taller than I am," Scott said.

Stittsville used to be Ottawa's smallest ward by population in 2006, with just 19,410 residents, but between 2006 and 2011 its population ballooned by more than 36 per cent

"I will admit that the high school here hasn't kept up with the unbelievable growth of the community, and it was time," said Chiarelli. 

​The location of the new school has not been finalized, but the school board hopes to use a parcel of land that's been set aside as part of a new subdivision on Fernbank and Shea roads.

The board hopes the school will open by 2021.

With files from the CBC's Laura Osman