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Clearview calls on school board to keep SCI open

Morgan Ian Adams

CLEARVIEW TOWNSHIP - Clearview councillors passed a motion last night calling on the school board to keep Stayner Collegiate open as an "important part of the fabric of our community."

SCI, along with the Penetanguishene Secondary School and Elmvale District High School, have been targeted for closure in a motion put to the Simcoe County District School Board - in spite of a recently-completed Accommodation Review Committee process that recommended both high schools be kept open as part of a five-school solution for the area from Collingwood up to Midland and Penetanguishene.

In a follow-up report to the recommendations from the ARC, board staff recommended a three high-school solution for the area, with secondary schools in Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, and Midland.

The staff report - and a subsequent motion by Orillia trustee Debra Edwards - have come under fire as it appears their positions are completely contrary to the direction recommended by the 40-member Accommodation Review Committee that looked at the distribution of high schools in Collingwood, Clearview, Wasaga Beach, and the Midland-Penetanguishene area. Part of the review was spurred by a desire of Wasaga Beach officials to get a high school; however, that wasn't one of the final recommendations of the ARC.

In a lengthy motion approved on Monday night, councillors also stated the staff report recommending the closure of Stayner Collegiate to be "inadequate, incomplete and unjustifiable," and "as a result, faulty in its logic and conclusion."

The motion also notes the staff report provided a "total disregard to the public comments... (and) contradicts the fundamental principals of the provincial Places to Grow legislation."

Councillor Shawn Davidson - who represents Stayner on Clearview Council, and was one of the township's representatives on ARC - noted the staff report "doesn't take into consideration a number of factors concerning the school."

That includes the views of the community.

He also noted the board's report is using a "miscellaneous item" to justify the idea the school as prohibitive-to-repair. According to the board, Stayner Collegiate needs about $2.2 million for "underground servicing." Davidson said no one at the board has been able to provide a justification to him for that cost.

The motion passed by township council also noted that cost was never explained to the ARC.

Davidson noted after a year of working on the ARC, he's frustrated - but also notes "not naive enough" to anticipate this was the board's plan all along.

He said the board's staff report basically reverted to a capital planning document from 2005 that anticipated the closure of Stayner, Elmvale, and Penetanguishene, and "now we're back there, regardless of the process that has been followed."

Davidson said if the board is concerned about the ability to offer programming in smaller schools, technology is the answer.

"They have to get their heads out of the 1950s... the funds are there if they chose to do it," he said.

There will be a special council meeting on Thursday night, for delegations to make presentations on the ARC recommendations. The meeting starts at 6:30. Two buses - one paid for by the Stayner Collegiate students' council, the other by the parents' council - will be heading to the board's Midhurst offices, leaving from SCI at 5:30.

A final decision by the board will be made in June.

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