A New School in the Neighbourhood

Having kids changes your life. Duh. Just a few years ago, the building of a new school (and all of the bureaucratic wrangling that goes with that) was a mildly interesting civic event to someone like me who has an interest in local politics. Now, as our second child prepares for kindergarten in the fall (just as our oldest is leaving) the prospect of a new school in the neighbourhood has ramifications that will profoundly impact our family’s daily life.

My wife sits on the ‘School Council‘ at our kids’ school. The new school planned for southeast Galt (the part of Cambridge that I live in) and the boundary implication were mentioned at a recent meeting. This isn’t news but I hadn’t thought about it for a while and I was curious how the existing school boundaries would be affected.

A quick Google search brought me to the Waterloo Region District School Board’s Accommodation Review for southeast Galt elementary schools. There is a LOT of information here, and I will admit that I have not read it all. I did, however, spend a little time poring over the maps provided in Appendices C&D. (I love maps)

Appendix C: JK-6 boundaries:

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Appendix D: 7-8 boundaries:

click image for full-size

There are a couple of weird things I noticed:

  • our kids will go to the new school for 7-8 even though Stewart Ave is closer. This is even more problematic for us since we’ll have kids going in two directions (Chalmers and Glenview to the west and ‘NewSchool’ to the east even though Stewart Ave is situated between Chalmers and Glenview.
  • kids who live on Dudhope (a block away from Stewart Ave) will now be bussed the 1.9 kilometres to ‘New School’?
  • Based on my reading of the busing rules (here), it would seem that our kids will be bussed to ‘NewSchool’ (1.85 kms) when they could easily walk to Stewart Ave. (1.1 km). It’s ridiculous to bus kids within city limits when there’s a school within walking distance!

I realize that these are pretty complex things to figure out (especially with the Jr/Sr split) but I will maintain my position from my trustee campaign last fall that if we had smaller schools in more neighbourhoods we could probably eliminate all intra-city busing.

If you live in southeast Galt – or even if you don’t – what do you think of the plan for the new school? Leave a comment below…

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7 Responses to “A New School in the Neighbourhood”

  1. Tammy Q says:

    Wow Colin, I had no idea that we would be affected by the ‘new school’, but based on these boundary maps we will be in the same situation as you (and we live even *closer* to Stewart Ave). Not only is it crazy from a cost perspective (busing), an environmental perspective (walking versus bus/car), but also from a social dynamic. Students who have spent up to 8 years together with their friends will now be subject to a whole new environment – one where another group of students will likely see them as the ‘outsiders’. If the Board tells us that K-8 is the gold standard then did they consider changing Chalmers into a K-8 school? If there are further discussions at the Board level we’d be VERY interested in participating!

  2. Colin Carmichael says:

    Tammy, the “social dynamic” issue is something that I worried about even in the current setup where our kids will do k-6 at Chalmers and then join the kids at Stewart Ave who have been there for 8 years. I’ve been told that it’s not an issue and that the Chalmers kids are well integrated at Stewart. I assume that the same will be true at Myers Rd.

  3. Hey folks, this is important! (from the WRDSB website)

    Community Open House for New Elementary School on Myers Rd- Cambridge
    Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 – 5:30pm – 7:30pm

    Everyone is welcome to drop in to an Open House to learn about the progress to date on the new Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 elementary school approved by the Waterloo Region District School Board to be built on the north side of Myers Road, east of Lisbon Pines Drive in Cambridge.

    The Board will soon be making an application to the City of Cambridge for Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments and site plan approval for the proposed school. Board staff will be available to answer questions about this process.

    The Open House will be held Wednesday, February 2, 2011 from 5:30 – 7:30pm at Chalmers Street PS, located at 35 Chalmers Street South in Cambridge.

    For more information please click here.

    Link: http://www.wrdsb.ca/node/2929

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