Nine elementary schools on the central Mountain are slated to finally undergo a twice-delayed closure review in the coming year.
The study is one of 14 accommodation reviews, or ARCs, recommended over the next five years by Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board staff as part of a strategy to cut 5,000 empty classroom seats at 95 elementary schools.
In a presentation to trustees, Ellen Warling, manager of planning and accommodation, said the strategy is flexible because provincial policies can affect school use.
“We know that board priorities can change due to a variety of influences,” she said, citing the introduction of smaller primary class sizes and junior kindergarten as examples.
Warling said about 1,000 of the surplus spaces are in the central Mountain cluster, which includes Cardinal Heights, Eastmount Park, Franklin Road, George L. Armstrong, Linden Park, Norwood Park, Pauline Johnson, Queensdale and Ridgemount.
Ridgemount is also set to undergo a grade reorganization study that could see Grade 6 classes shifted to Cardinal Heights.
“We’ve got a mix of schools,” Warling said. “Some are overcrowded, some are underutilized. We’ve got a mix of JK to 8 schools along with senior middle schools.”
Trustees have yet to discuss or approve the 14 ARCs because they ran out of time at their Feb. 11 meeting, dominated by debate over the funding of six projects stemming from previous closure studies – including a $27.4-million high school south of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway to replace Barton, Hill Park and Mountain secondary schools.
Besides the one for the central Mountain cluster, which feeds Hill Park, the strategy recommends three other Mountain ARCs.
A proposed review for the 2014-15 year will include Lawfield, Lisgar and Richard Beasley on the east Mountain, while one the following year will cover nine schools on the west Mountain.
They include Buchanan Park, Chedoke, Gordon Price, Holbrook, James Macdonald, Mountview, R.A. Riddell, Westview and Westwood.
A proposed study in 2016-17 will review another three schools on the east Mountain, C.B. Stirling, Lincoln Alexander and Templemead.
A recent Long Term Facilities Master Plan report notes that a school’s inclusion in an ARC doesn’t necessarily mean it’s destined to close.
“Having large groups of schools in a review allows for boundary changes and other accommodation solutions to occur within the terms of reference of the accommodation review,” it states.