Staff at Ottawa's Public School board has delivered its final report on school closures in the city's west end.   It is recommending that 8 schools be shut and a number of others be reconfigured to move students around. The western accommodation review covers 26 schools including elementary and highschool in the city's west end. This has been a difficult and emotional process for staff, parents and students -- since this report was first approved in September.  Now, the real fight begins to persuade trustees as to why their school should survive.

It may be a cold, windy day for students at Rideau High school as they leave for a quick bite to eat at lunch time, but there's an undeniable warmth emanating from the decades-old building despite its tough reputation.

“You know how they say when you move to a new school, they say everyone is welcoming but they're really not?” says one student, “This school I really felt the warmth and the love.”

But warmth and love aren't filling the classrooms.  The school is half empty; staff at the Ottawa Carleton District School Board suggests closing it and moving students to Gloucester.

“Rideau is like my second home,” says another student, “and if it's shut down, a part of me will be disappearing, so it would be really disappointing.”

There will be a long list of disappointed parents and students the school board staff is also recommending:

  • Bell High School (HS) would become a grade 7-12 school;
  • D. Aubrey Moodie Intermediate School (IS) would close;
  • Bells Corners Public School (PS), Lakeview PS and Bayshore PS would become Kgrade 6 schools, with Bells Corners PS offering English(ENG) and Middle French Immersion (MFI), Lakeview PS offering Early French Immersion (EFI), and Bayshore PS offering ENG and EFI;
  • Sir Robert Borden HS would become a grade 7-12 school;
  • Greenbank Middle School (MS) would close;
  • Leslie Park PS would close and its students would attend Briargreen PS;
  • Grant Alternative School (AS) would close and its students would attend Churchill AS;
  • Merivale HS would become a grade 7-12 school and (upon certification) would offer the west end International Baccalaureate (IB) program;
  • Century PS would close and its students would attend Carleton Heights PS;
  • Regina Street PS would close and its students would attend D. Roy Kennedy PS;
  • J.H. Putman PS would close coincident with the opening of a new intermediate wing at Agincourt Road Public School;
  • Agincourt Road PS would become a K-grade 6 school (coincident with the opening of a new intermediate wing) and Woodroffe Avenue PS would become a JK-grade 8 school; and
  • Severn Avenue PS would become a JK-grade 6 structure for immersion students (starting with grades 1 to 3) expanding to a JK-grade 8 structure as soon as critical enrolment is achieved to sustain an intermediate program. The Woodroffe Avenue PS EFI boundary would be changed and the current Severn Avenue PS English students would attend Pinecrest PS or D. Roy Kennedy PS

Most of the schools on the list are under capacity although that's not the case for J.H. Putman.

Parents are fighting for it.

“These schools are full, Woodroffe is full, Agincourt is full, Putman is full,” says Granda Kopytko, the parent representative for J.H. Putman, “so it seems as though they are moving kids around to fill other schools that are empty by splitting up this community.”

This is one of two accommodation reviews the board is conducting; this one for schools in the west and another for east-end schools.

Right now there are more than 3,800 excess pupil spaces. The review proposes to reduce excess space by 21-hundred.  This is just the staff’s final report.  The trustees debate this at a meeting February 13th with the board vote expected March 1st.