School closure issue brought up again at council, timeframe of addition questioned

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The issue of the potential consolidation of St. Bernard and Stella Maris schools was once again a topic at council with one councillor doubting the timelines for a possible Stella Maris addition.

According to its recommendation, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) wants to close St. Bernard School effective June 2016 and consolidate it with Stella Maris at the latter site. The anticipated influx of students at Stella Maris would result in portable classrooms being brought in until 2017, when a new addition would be completed to the building.

Stella Maris School

Stella Maris School

Councillor Joan Courtney, a former WECDSB trustee, said during council’s most recent regular meeting that she doubts the board will get funding approved by the Ontario government in time for a 2017 addition.

“From past history, that will not happen,” predicted Courtney.

Courtney cited the case of St. Bernard School in Windsor and said that building was “crumbling” and it took years to get funding out of the province.

Councillor Diane Pouget believed CAO John Miceli’s report to the board should have been brought to town council prior to the Feb. 29 meeting, it would have been beneficial. She said receiving the report just prior to the WECDSB meeting that was held later that night “tied our hands” and “caused dissent” among council members.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said there were extenuating circumstances which prevented the report from being on time.

Miceli told council that the province is allowing school boards to have modified accommodation reviews, one that would allow for one public meeting then a vote.

“From a public consultation level, that has been greatly reduced. It does raise concerns,” said Miceli.

Miceli brought that issue to council’s attention in case any other school reviews are done in the future as he cautioned there are now opportunities for “significantly less” public consultation periods.

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