The emotional and difficult process involved in coming to grips with necessary school closures and consolidations in Belleville,
Centre Hastings, and Prince Edward County is drawing to a close.
Tonight(Thursday), residents of Prince Edward County had a final chance to have their say before the Hastings Prince Edward
District School Board’s Student Enrolment/School Capacity Committee.
As it stands recommendations now in play include closing Pinecrest, Sophiasburgh Central, and Queen Elizabeth Schools, with all of
those elementary students moving in to a renovated Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton by September of 2018. The closures
would be phased with Pinecrest and Sophiasburgh students moving in to Queen Elizabeth this September and then Queen Elizabeth would
close in the spring of next year, with all students ending up at the high school.
Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff seemed to be of two minds. The Mayor told the committee that council generally
agreed with the recommendations as they are, and wouldn’t hold the renovations at the high school up. However, he stressed that
the school board should make sure there is enough time to do renovations properly and ensure a smooth transition for the elementary
On the other hand, Mayor Quaiff expressed strong support for Sophiasburgh ward area residents who are pushing for Sophiasburgh
Central to remain open while they pay for and create a community hub in about a quarter of the school for a large commercial kitchen, child care
centre and public library.
Following the Mayor, Sophiasburgh residents Mike Farrell and Todd Foster described their community hub idea in some detail. They stressed
a commercial kitchen would help many small food businesses in the county and would provide another educational opportunity for students.
The pair presented a list of people and organizations that are backing the idea and/or willing to be paying tenants.
Farrell and Foster estimate the hub would bring close to $60,000. dollars a year in rent to the school board, plus another $16,000. for
All they are asking the board for is time for more discussion and organizing. They are asking the board to leave Sophiasburgh school alone
for at least another year. Todd Foster added that there was definitely one thing they were not asking the school board for.
Julie Lane, a staff member with the Prince Edward County Public Library, told the committee the library is in support of setting up a satellite
operation in Sophiasburgh school.
Prince Edward County councillor and Accommodation Review Committee member, Janice Maynard, said she was glad there had been a change
of heart and that under the new recommendations, both CML Snider school in Wellington and Kente Public in Ameliasburgh would remain open.
Selena Prinzen echoed Maynard’s comments, adding she was in favor of the new changes to boundaries affecting the busing of students.
Meanwhile, J.J. Syer of the Queen Elizabeth ARC told the committee that there was no question there had to be closures and consolidations
of schools in Prince Edward County, however she took issue with the timelines.
Syer said moving students around was traumatic for them, their families, and school staff. She thought the proposed closure of Sophiasburgh Central and Pinecrest at the end of August with students to be moved to Queen Elizabeth in September was much too fast.
Syer suggested leaving Pinecrest and Sophiasburgh open for one more year and then closing them along with Queen Elizabeth at once, with the students moving to the high school in September of 2018.
She warned that studies clearly show that the more a student moves to new schools, the worse they do academically and socially.
Syer also believed more time would allow for proper renovations to make PECI safe for all students and a smoother transition for elementary
Final recommendations for Belleville, Centre Hastings and Prince Edward County schools will be drafted June 12 with the school board
making a final decision on June 19.