*Editor’s note: This story has been updated following the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board Accommodation Review Committee meeting Monday afternoon.
Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board trustees now have a series of new final recommendations to consider when it comes to the future of schools in Belleville including moving Moira Secondary School students to Quinte Secondary School and keeping the home of the Saints open if the Ministry doesn’t approve plans for a new build.
After months of public Accommodation Review Committee meetings aimed at gathering input, board trustees received two final reports Monday evening with over a dozen new recommendations for Belleville and Prince Edward County schools. The review comes as the board grapples with $250 million in capital needs and declining enrolment.
As Quinte News reported early Monday afternoon, the final Belleville report lists nine new proposals and in a complete turn of events, it is being recommended the board move Moira students to Quinte instead of the other way around as originally proposed. The new recommendation calls for the consolidation of Moira Secondary and Quinte Secondary School at the QSS site in 2018 and seeks Ministry of Education funding/approval to build a new Grade 9 to 12 school in Belleville’s east end.
Potential new school locations listed include the former Hillcrest school property or another location in the east end of Belleville. Should funding for a new build not be approved, it is recommended the board seek Ministry approval for an addition or renovations to QSS.
At Monday’s meeting, trustee Dave Patterson pressed for answers about the impact on the student body and roughly 100 Bay of Quinte Mohawk students who proudly call Moira home.
“There will be change,” Director of Education Mandy Savery-Whiteway told to board. “It’s up to us to make the impact minimal. We understand the impact on the Bay of Quinte Mohawk students. We are going to work with them to make sure the transition goes smoothly.”
Trustee Bonnie Danes found it “problematic” that a lot of the plan is contingent on new builds. She was doubtful that the province would find the dollars need to fund two new schools in Belleville and one in the County.
Savery-Whiteway said the Ministry of Education is looking for the board to build a strong business case and that would be to build a new school.
She pointed to how new build and renovation requests have been successful in years past with previous accommodation reviews such as York River in North Hastings, Athol-South Marysburgh and Trent River Public School.
Other notable changes now proposed include consolidating Harry J Clarke, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria and seek Ministry approval to build a new Kindergarten to 8 elementary school on the Moira property. Should funding for a new build not be approved, the board would then seek Ministry funding for an addition to Queen E. Queen E and Queen Vic would consolidate into the new school and Harry J. Clarke students would remain at the current site. Effective September 2017, the board would relocate Grade 7 and 8 students from Sir John A. Macdonald to Centennial, creating a Grade 7 to 12 school. In 2018, the boundaries would be revised between Sir John A. and Susanna Moodie Elementary. Families with children registered at Sir John A. will not be impacted by attendance boundary changes.
The recommendation to close Hillcrest still stands, however the report has highlighted option two to consolidate with Prince of Wales in 2017 as the preferred choice.
Savery-Whiteway also thanked the community, parents and guardians for their suggestions and input throughout this process.
The public can voice their opinion on Prince Edward County school reviews on May 25 at 6:30 p.m. and on Belleville school reviews on May 29 at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings are at the Education Centre on Ann Street in Belleville.
The board can still choose to go ahead with the option 1 or 2 plans originally proposed.
A final report is due back June 19.