Hello I’m Dave Gordon , my daughter is currently finishing Grade 8 in Calvin Park Public School. She will enroll in KCVI next year. We live downtown and are newcomers to Kingston, since we have only been here 18 years. For my day job, I teach urban planning at Queen’s and I have been advising a group called Save Kingston City Schools about community impacts of the proposed closures. I regret that I could not attend the last public meeting at QECVI, because I was at a conference in Waterloo where we discussed school closures across Canada. But I was delighted to hear that there was a lot of public support at the last public meeting for the idea of community partnerships keep all three high schools open. And I bring good news tonight: there are lots of concrete examples of these partnerships, not just in the big cities, but in medium-sized places like Fredericton, London, Saskatoon, Brantford and Victoria. Places like Kingston. We don’t have to follow the heart-breaking conflicts like the closing of Peterborough Collegiate next month, which is tearing that community apart, or the demolition of Belleville Collegiate a few years ago, which contributed to the decline their downtown. There are many great examples of community-school partnerships out there, if our community has the political will to pursue them. So let’s have a look:
Real opportunity for Kingscourt Public Library and QECVI to collaborate Missed opportunity : I love the new Calvin Park Public Library but what a pity it isn’t at Calvin Park or LCVI (my daughter studies there after school – but must cross Sir JAM Boulevard…)
Walter Gretzky and St. Basil schools opened this term. They are the result of the second joint partnership between the Brantford public and Catholic school boards. The first was the conjoined construction of Branlyn and Notre Dame in 1988. I understand that there have been partnerships between the Kingston Boards before, and we could certainly use them now with several examples of half empty elementary schools located within a few blocks, or even side by side in Kingston. Minister applauds boards for joint school Brantford Expositor, Friday, May 11, 2012 http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2012/05/11/minister-applauds-boards-for-joint-school There will be no mergers of Catholic and public school boards as the province looks to pare down the existing 72 boards to save money. “ We’re not prepared to disregard the constitutional protection of Catholic education,” Education Minister Laurel Broten said. However, she noted there are two joint schools built in Brantford that share library and gym space but maintain separate classrooms. http://m.torontosun.com/2012/05/29/no-merger-of-catholic-and-public-boards-broten
There are many examples of community centres embedded in schools across Canada. This one is in Victoria, but there was our in my old neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. It had a daycare, elementary school, community centre and a pool under a 12 storey condo building. http://www.jamesbaycentre.ca/what-community-school-centre
Public health advocates are excited about the results from establishing community health clinics in schools, especially in priority neighbourhoods. This is a possibility for QECVI – what a pity the North Kingston Community Health clinic is in space leased in a strip-mall. Kate Hammer & Dakshana Bascaramurty, School clinics making big strides in public health, The Globe and Mail , Mar. 16 2012. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/school-clinics-making-big-strides-in-public-health/article2372330/ A unique partnership in Saskatoon has allowed school clinics to take root. Motivated by a scathing report that found deplorable health among the city’s low-income residents, the Saskatoon Tribal Council teamed up with the Catholic school board and the University of Saskatchewan to launch the province’s first clinic at St. Mary’s Community School in 2007. It’s also open to the local community, and is so popular that waits for non-urgent appointments have climbed from two days to four weeks. Kristin Rushowy, In-school clinic gives families easy access to doctor, Toronto Star, Mar 22 2012, http://www.thestar.com/article/1150623 Mary Ormsby, A bold inner-city project brings medical care to kids at school, Toronto Star , Sat Dec 10 2011; http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1100248--a-bold-inner-city-project-brings-medical-care-to-kids-at-school
Combining seniors’ centres with schools is the norm in places like Denmark, which are thinking in advance about helping we Baby Boomers age in place. This community and seniors centre was in an annex to Victoria’s Sir James Douglas Elementary School The Kingston Seniors’ Centre in the former Portsmouth School; it is too bad that we could not have found a way to keep the school open and have them share the building. This is an obvious possibility for LCVI, which is adjacent to one of Kingston’s largest concentrations of seniors in the adjacent apartment buildings. These seniors lost their “community hub” when the Kingston Shopping Centre closed – a big box parking lot just does not do the same job…. Julie Cormier & Stephan Fortin, “Building Community Centres Through Partnerships”, Fairfield Gonzales Observer (Victoria BC), February 2012 “ With this in mind, community association members entered into conversation with School District 61 about leasing space from Sir James Douglas (SJD) Elementary School. Two possibilities came out of these discussions: (a) sharing time and space with the school by leasing facilities after the school day, or (b) operating as a community school. It was this latter option which led the FGCA to secure a centre.” Kingston Seniors’ Centre in the former Portsmouth School
Oh, and by the way, when the Fredericton people wanted to build a field house another indoor pool for their north end, guess where they put it? What an opportunity for QECVI and its high performance sports centre Lost opportunity – Kingston - Invista Centre, which is basically impossible to get to without a car.
University Hill SS is usually considered the top school for academic achievement in not just Vancouver, but all of BC. Parents from across the metropolitan area line up to get their kids into this school; demand is so strong that the public school board is constructing a new building with double the capacity. London Central SS (near Western and London downtown), is the top-ranked school for academic achievement in that city, and one of the best in Ontario . Outstanding music program; the public school board has invested in this school in the past decade. Ottawa’s Lisgar Collegiate is across the bridge from Ottawa U; it also acts as a magnet school for the region. Usually ranked #2 in the region for academic achievement. Lisgar’s historic building dates from 1874-1920 and the Ottawa school board renovated it in 1996. This type of partnership is already in place in Kingston, with the many collaborations between KCVI and Queen’s for things like free use of Tindall Field every morning between 9 am and noon, use of the Agnes Etherington for art classes, of the science labs and of the Queen’s Centre. And the Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf has stated that Queen’s wants KCVI to remain open and serving the entire community. So I see a lot of potential there.
Our proposal is that many school closures could be avoided if they were to become multi-purpose community hub, as suggested by many policy advocates. New schools like this one in Chilliwack BC are being designed as hubs, and older ones are being renovated. David Clandfield and George Martell (eds.), The School as Community Hub: Beyond Education’s Iron Cage , The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Summer 2010. “ New school set to be a community hub”, Chilliwack Progress, January 20, 2011 Edmonton Catholic School Board; St. Alphonsus School and St. Patrick School http://www.ecsd.net/parents/schools_hubs.html
But partnerships are complicated; it is sometimes more convenient to build alone. Every community institution might prefer a single story building on a big suburban site, with a fence around it. However, we have seen many community partnerships out there and some of them are way more complicated than what we need to do in Kingston For example, this is the most complicated community partnership I’ve seen, it was in my old neighbourhood in Toronto: The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood has the Market Lane Public School, St. Michael’s Catholic elementary school, a community centre, a health clinic, a corner store and a restaurant all on the bottom two floors of a six-storey apartment building. It’s the easiest thing in the world to say NO to a partnership proposal – there is always a provincial regulation or a clause in a collective agreement or a board policy that stands in the way of collaboration. So how were Market Lane and St. Michael’s schools ever built? Well, Mayor David Crombie and the local councilors and the school trustees agreed that it was important to support this new family neighbourhood near the downtown. They instructed the stakeholders to make it work and, after several months of hard negotiation, they found a way. Crombie’s leadership was celebrated by naming the park and the apartments after him. Then ten years later, a completely new group of officials, inspired by Crombie Park’s success, found a way to collaborate again for another school and a full community centre in the second phase of the project. So we are encouraged to hear that the LDSB is willing to consider partnerships as part of the school strategy. And we don’t want to see a fast answer, because we know it will be a NO. And we hope that members of the audience will ask their trustees and councilors and Mayor and MPP to provide the leadership we need to help Kingston follow the good examples of London and Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo. This process doesn’t have to end up in a public policy disaster like Peterborough and Belleville. With hard work, community good will and the best brains in the city working on the problem, I hope that we can come up with solutions that keep our downtown viable and protect communities in need like the North End. I will do everything that I can to assist the process. As an example, my school will collaborate with other local interest groups to invite one of the gurus of community partnerships, Mr. Frank Lewinberg of the firm Urban Strategies, to Kingston.
Thank you for your attention and I would be pleased to answer any questions either in person tonight or by e-mail.
Serious proposals now under consideration for closing: KCVI Central Public School (and possibly its affiliate Sydenham PS, which has been targeted for closure before) Frontenac Public School has been deemed “Prohibitive to Repair” St. Patrick's CS and École Catholique Cathédrale mentioned as candidates for the upcoming Catholic elementary school PARC Current proposals could create a “ School Desert ” in the area south of Concession/ Raglan Road and east of Albert Street. This is the oldest part of the City of Kingston and still home to almost 10,000 people (from the July 2006 census, taken when the Queen ’ s students are not in town). The schools also serve four of the region’s five largest employers: KGH HDH Queen’s (which has said it wants KCVI to remain open) Downtown (BIA has said it wants schools to remain open) It is almost inconceivable that an urban population this large would be left without public schools, especially when it is proposed as an area for intensification for a more sustainable City.
1. SchoolPartnerships:David GordonSave Kingston City Schools
2. Nashwaaksis Middle School & Nashwaaksis Public LibrarySchool /Library:Fredericton
3. Walter Gretzky ES/ St. Basil Catholic ESCatholic/Public Schools: Brantford
4. James Bay Community School Centre, Victoria BC School & Community Centre, Victoria BC
5. St. Mary Community School, Saskatoon Brookfield Middle School, TorontoSchool & Community HealthClinics: Saskatoon & Toronto
6. Fairfield Gonzales Seniors Centre &Sir James Douglas Elementary School AnnexSchool & Seniors’Centre, Victoria
7. Nashwaaksis Middle School & Nashwaaksis Middle School &Fredericton Field House Fredericton Indoor SchoolSchool and SportsCentre: Fredericton
8. University Hill SS, Vancouver London Central SS Lisgar Collegiate, OttawaHigh School & University
9. Chilliwack Secondary SchoolSchool &Community Hub Model
10. Communit y- School Par tnerships in theSt . Lawrence Neighbourhood• Non-Profit Apartments• Health Clinic• Public School• Gym/ Community Ctr.• Catholic School• Corner Store• Restaurant
11. Thank You for listening– Questions?David.Gordon@queensu.ca