As touched upon last week in this corner, senior administrators at the Thames Valley District School Board are recommending Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion School become a senior kindergarten to Grade 6 facility, effective next July.
Under this proposal, French Immersion students in Grades 6-8 and Grade 7 and 8 Extended French students would attend classes in Port Stanley Public School.
This past October, the TVDSB presented six new options to parents and you have to ask does this proposal reflect popular opinion in the school community?
At the Oct. 20 meeting, a survey was handed out to parents in attendance and the preferred option — by a margin of more than 2-1 — was Option 5, which would maintain the grade structure at the school and students in the west end of the county would be bused to Port Stanley.
Subsequent to the public meeting, parents not able to attend were encouraged to email their input to school principal Colin Milligan.
Less than two dozen responses were received, with Option 1 — the board’s preferred choice — proving most popular.
To ensure all concerns were heard, a survey was sent home to parents and, in this instance, Option 4 was the slim winner with 24% of respondents favouring the existing grade structure but an attendance area that would include St. Thomas feeder schools only.
All other students would transfer to Port Stanley Public School.
A total of 231 surveys were returned and 77% of respondents wanted change at the school to ease overcrowding, i.e. some students would need to be bused to Port Stanley.
Other options put forth by parents are quite imaginative, if not necessarily practical.
- Merge Sparta and Port Stanley schools at the Port Stanley site and use the Sparta location as the second French Immersion S.K. – Grade 8 school.
- Use the now-vacant courthouse on Silver St. to house the students of Grades 7/8 French Immersion and Extended French students from Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
- Merge Arthur Voaden Secondary School and Central Elgin Collegiate Institute, moving Grades 9-11 to AVSS; CECI site would then become the second French Immersion school for Grades 6-8 including 7/8 Extended French.
- Merge Central Elgin Collegiate Institute and Arthur Voaden Secondary School, emptying CECI and sending Pierre Elliott Trudeau students to CECI
- Use the former Wellington Street Public School for Grades 7-12 French ImmersionSwap Pierre Elliott Trudeau School with John Wise Public School for J.K. to 6 and 7/8 French Immersion and Extended French students to attend Parkside Collegiate Institute
The public will have an opportunity at the Dec. 15 board meeting for delegations to address the recommendation from senior administrators and a decision will be made at the Jan. 12 meeting.
NO BUDGET BLUES AT THIS TIME
In a report to be presented to city council Monday treasurer David Aristone advises, as of the end of September, he is forecasting a 2015 budget surplus of almost $103,000.
The positive news is prompted by a greater-than-expected surplus of $149,000 in building permit fees and a healthy Ontario Works uptick of $75,000.
Eating into the surplus are a $17,000 deficit for electrical repairs at the Colin McGregor Justice Building; $31,500 in maintenance and repairs at the airport, $23,000 in Workers Compensation and legal fees and the $50,000 operating grant to the St. Thomas Cemetery Company.
To follow up on last week’s reference to a black market in courthouse parking permits, a letter has now been sent to residents of the consolidated courthouse area outlining revisions to the initial 2014 strategy.
The correspondence from Dave White, the city’s manager of roads and transportation, includes a reference to those guest parking passes you hang on rear-view mirrors.
“The city has received the occasional complaint regarding the unauthorized use of the hanging guest parking passes,” advises White.
“This is a reminder to all pass holders that hanging guest parking passes are tracked and their use is the responsibility of residents to whom they were issued. The intent of the guest parking pass is to provide close parking for guests visiting your property. Any other use violates the conditions of the permits and compromises its performance.”
Having received the aforementioned letter, Queen St. resident Gerry Smith sent along a photo illustrating a certain St. Thomas lawyer “misusing her parking pass from her law office.”
That office being Dick & King.
Gerry adds, “I have emailed Wendell (city manager Wendell Graves) and Dave but nothing is being done to fix this.”
You have been warned. You don’t want the performance of your pass being compromised, do you?
DID YOU KNOW?
As of Jan. 1, 2016, the Ontario Ombudsman can begin accepting, resolving and investigating complaints about municipalities under the Public Sector and MPP accountability and Transparency Act.
In other words, the provincial Ombudsman’s jurisdiction will extend to municipalities, local boards and municipally controlled corporations, with some exceptions.
The Ontario Ombudsman — an independent officer — conducts impartial investigations into “individual and systemic issues relating to the administrative conduct of public bodies,” as outlined in a letter to city council from Linda Williamson, director of communications.
The Ombudsman is an office of last resort, so if you have a complaint about a municipal issue you should “exhaust any available appeal mechanisms” (such as the Ontario Municipal Board or the city’s integrity investigator, John Maddox, who adjudicates complaints received under the city’s code of conduct).
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It is a significant project in a whole bunch of ways … From an economic development perspective for the jobs it is going to create and certainly as a stimulus, being right in the downtown area is huge.”
City Manager Wendell Graves on this week’s announcement plans are underway to build $35 million retirement home on vacant land south of the Sutherland Press building.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope