Parents Opposed to Option J in Doon South Boundary Study
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As part of the Doon South Boundary Study, WRDSB has proposed an alternative interim option J, which would move all regular track students in grades 1-6 who are in the new South Kitchener school boundary (approximately 185 of them) from JW Gerth to Pioneer Public School. Here is the link to option J:http://www.wrdsb.ca/planning/files/2013/08/Doon-South-Option-J.pdf
This is compared to option F, which has J.W. Gerth offering JK‐4 only and all Grade 5 and 6 students in J.W. Gerth P.S. boundary assigned to Doon P.S.
We, the undersigned, are opposed to option J, which recommends to send all regular track grade 1-6 JW Gerth students (that are part of the new South Kitchener school boundary) to Pioneer Park Public School, for reasons including, but not limited to, the following:
- The number of transitions for Gr 1-6 students in option J - they would be moving from Gerth to Pioneer to New School (if and when it opens in 2016???), and then possibly to Doon for 7-8 - that's moving 185 students between 3-4 times during their elementary school years,contrary to one of the goals of the boundary study which is to minimize the impact on students and families
- Larger number of students displaced under option J (i.e. 185) then under option F (i.e. 130) -contrary to the goal of giving consideration to community connections, distance, transportation costs, minimizing impact on students
- The option J affects wider age group and wider student population (i.e. Grades 1-6) rather than just grades 5 and 6 in option F. Option J would result in classes / friendships being torn apart as some students would be staying at Gerth and others would be going to Pioneer - this is especially the issue for those in grades 5 and 6 who would have gone to Doon as one group / cohort together with all their friends from Gerth under option F, and would be able to maintain that sense of community; whereas under option J they are now going to be in a new school, in a completely new neighbourhood, and having to form new set of friends - again, contrary to the goal of minimizing impact on students
- Grades 5 and 6 would more likely be able to adjust to a new school (especially given they are moving together as a group with their friends), compared to younger grades (especially those that would be moving from JK/SK to grade 1 or 2) who would be forced to not only attend a new school, but also form new friendships for limited period of time with kids who are not within their neighbourhood and community- again,impact on students would be more significant under option J than option F
- The costs of transportation: even though the costs cannot be determined exactly at this point, the information obtained from the School Board's planning department suggests that it would likely be more expensive to bus students all the way to Pioneer Park (new routes would have to be established and potentially more buses added to the system) then with the current routes to Doon.Additional runs would most likely be required under Option J and these would cost approximately $19,000 / year, whereas additional buses required would cost at $35,720 per year -contrary to the goals and objectives of transportation provisions, community connections and distance
- Infrastructure costs related to Pioneer Park's ability to handle an inflow of basically another "small school" (i.e. 185 students) that would now be moved from Gerth: this would require establishing additional portables (at a minimum 7 would have to be added at Pioneer Park, for a total of 11 portables) which would take up majority of the ball diamond outdoor play space; additional parking would be required; gym space would be impacted (due to single gymnasium, the gym classes would have to be doubled up), there would be minimal office space for itinerant teachers, and due to the limited number of washrooms, they may have to be a "scheduled time for use" -contrary to the goal of considering the infrastructure and facilities (i.e. sites, offices, gyms, etc) in order to deliver the curriculum and support student achievement, and minimizing impact on students, providing best learning opportunities for students, etc
- Impact on families who have kids in JK-SK that would be staying at Gerth and siblings who would be moved to Pioneer in grades 1-6 - contrary to the goal of community connections, distance, minimizing impact on students, etc
- Sense of community involvement would be lost - parents at Gerth are very active and involved with the school and support the school in various ways - this is due to the fact that Gerth is within walking distance to large number of households - Gerth is considered to be the "Doon South" community school; families have moved to this area assuming their kids would attend a newly built and very well ranked school. Pioneer PS is in a different neighbourhood, boundaries away, where that sense of community would no longer exist for the students who would be displaced as well as for the parents of those students - contrary to the following goals and objectives: community connections and distance, minimizing impact on students and families, etc
- Board run before and after school programs for kids up to grade 2; external service provider may not offer programs for grades 3-6 if demand is not sufficient; Also, no care provided by the board over the summer time -contrary to the goal of giving consideration for access to child care
- No french immersion at Pioneer Park and those out of boundary students would not be able to sign up to attend French immersion at Gerth if they are in grade one next year -contrary to the goal of accessibility of French Immersion programs
For the aforementioned reasons, we call on the Waterloo Region District School Board to reconsider the recommended plan under option J and find an alternate solution that minimizes the negative impacts on the students, community, and the School Board as outlined above.