Council urges school board to delay closing of North Stormont Public School

North Stormont Public School would still close, as proposed by the Upper Canada District School Board's final report on Building for the Future.

Natascha Wood
Nation Valley News

BERWICK — This September’s planned closure of North Stormont Public School came up as a topic of concern Jan. 26 at the virtual North Stormont Council table.

The school was originally slated to shut its doors in September 2022, until the Upper Canada District School Board’s recent, unexpected announcement it was moving up the closure date to September of this year.

In response, at Tuesday’s session on Zoom, Councillor Steve Densham put forward a motion asking the Board to postpone the closure to its original date. A delay, however, was not enough for Councillor Roxane Villeneuve, who wanted the motion to indicate council’s desire that the school stay open in perpetuity.

“I would like to see this council take a much firmer position in keeping North Stormont Public School open. My fear is that, if we don’t take a stronger position in keeping this school open on a permanent basis … the motion as drafted is just a bandaid solution,” said Villeneuve. “Rural school closures is a repetitive subject matter, and I’d like to see this not be a bandaid solution in postponing it to 2022. I would like to see us say that this school needs to be open permanently,” she argued passionately.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see this school closed,” Councillor Steve Densham responded.

Councillor Villeneuve introduced an amendment to the motion to keep North Stormont Public School open permanently, but there were no takers to second it. Instead, Councillor Steve Densham’s motion unanimously passed unaltered, recommending that the UCDSB postpone the Berwick-based school’s closure until September 2022. He said this was a strategy to buy time for more discussions.

Students now attending North Stormont Public School are slated to attend Roxmore Public School in Avonmore after the closure occurs.

Enrolment at the school is currently much higher than predicted by the UCDSB in 2016 when shutting NSPS was first proposed — a fact highlighted by Councillor Randy Douglas during this week’s council meeting.

See the discussion, below.
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