Tonight, at West Ferris Intermediate Secondary School, the Near North District School will be holding its final special Board meeting regarding the future of three secondary schools in our City.  The ARC process has been ongoing for the past number of months with numerous public meetings and presentations from the public which culminated in a recommendation from the committee to eliminate one of the schools and refurbish/expand the remaining two.

The ARC Committee asked for and listened to the public input.  After the consultation, they completed their assigned task, which of course was the recommendation noted above.  Further to their recommendation, a staff recommendation and report regarding the process was produced on May 23, 2017.  The staff recommendation regarding the secondary schools also agrees with the ARC committee recommendation and provides further recommendations to:

1) determine the appropriate north site (Chippewa or Widdifield),

2) determine appropriate site for Special Education Programs, and

3) refurbishment of the two 7-12 sites rather than new build.

The business community is fully aware that the Board is faced with some tough decisions.  Financially, 3:1 is the most viable long-term solution.  But this issue is more than a financial decision.  This is about community, where we live and where our children learn and play.  High school rivalries have been around since the second school opened in our city many decades before this writer was born.  After 40 + years of being out of high school, friendly rivalries continue to exist amongst former high school friends from “the other schools”.  This has been a part of our lives, our children’s lives and I certainly hope, our grand children’s lives.

The North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce Board and members have expressed concern, made presentations, talked to trustee’s and made their views known.  Closing existing secondary schools and consolidating to one Super School will have a direct impact on our community and not just the business community.  The Board Trustee’s have the opportunity to show that democracy works and that it isn’t just about the number’s.  Listen to your community, listen to the experts, the Super School is not an option for this community.

Peter Chirico is the President and CEO of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce.

To view the submission to the school board:  CLICK HERE