'We're not their main priority,' Sudbury students speak out against school closures

Some Grade 7 and 8 students in Sudbury, Ont., are anxious about entering high school earlier than expected over the next few years because of public school closures.

7 public schools will move their Grade 7 and 8 students to secondary schools in the next few years

From left: Pinecrest Public School students Kaitlyn MacNeil, Saxin Daoust and Taylor MacNeil are concerned about moving to Confederation Secondary School next fall. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Some Grade 7 and 8 students in Sudbury, Ont., are anxious about entering high school earlier than expected over the next few years because of public school closures.

The Rainbow District School Board voted last week to close eight schools as part of a massive restructuring move that is expected to save $2.2 million annually.

As a result, seven schools will be sending their Grade 7 and 8 students to what some describe as "mega" high schools.

"It makes me feel like we're not their [school board's] main priority right now," Grade 6 student Kaitlyn MacNeil said.

"It seems like the only people they are considering are themselves and their money."

Kaitlyn and her sister Taylor, both 12, just got used to junior high life at Pinecrest Public School.

Now they have to prepare to be sent to Confederation Secondary School next September since Pinecrest will be shut down.

'Don't want to be exposed to that this young'

"I think that many kids are probably going to be nervous seeing like all the kids that are way older than them," Taylor said.

"What if we have to take the same bus as them?," Kaitlyn asked.

"There might be some people who smoke or something and we don't want to be exposed to that this young."

The MacNeils said they have been anxious about the change ever since they heard last fall that their school was on the chopping block. 

"It just kind of sucked," Taylor said.

"Lots of people didn't think about anything else. They were just nervous if the school was going to close or not."

Saxin Daoust, an 11-year-old Grade 6 Pinecrest student, is most worried about having his own space.

There is a gym at Confederation, but it has been criticized as being too small to accommodate more students.  

'Pretty much losing friends from this' 

"I'm just sad," Daoust said. "That really upset me the most."

The school board is applying for funding from Ontario's Ministry of Education to build another gym.

It is also requesting money to renovate Churchill Public School, and Lasalle and Chelmsford Secondary Schools. 

Additionally, the Rainbow Board is planning to build a new Queen Elizabeth II Public School, and a new French immersion junior kindergarten to Grade 6 school in New Sudbury.

Daoust and the MacNeils are concerned they could lose classmates to schools closer in town that have larger sports facilities. 

"I'm pretty much losing friends from this," Daost said. 

"Our lives are being very affected just by moving schools at such a young age," Taylor added. 

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.