Six schools in lower Stoney Creek are slated to undergo a closure review next year as part of a strategy to try to cut the 5,000 empty classroom seats at 95 public elementary schools in Hamilton.
The study is one of 14 accommodation reviews, or ARCs, recommended over the next five years by Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board staff that will also consider the fate of Sir Isaac Brock school in 2015-16.
No upper Stoney Creek schools are on the list, although a boundary review of Gatestone and Mount Albion catchment areas is scheduled to proceed this year to accommodate growth in the area, including at Penny Lane Estates, across the road from the Taro dump.
The board also plans to buy land for another elementary school in upper Stoney Creek or east Glanbrook this year.
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.
Next year’s proposed lower Stoney Creek review will include Collegiate Avenue, Eastdale, Green Acres, Memorial, Mountain View and R.L. Hyslop.
According to a recent Long Term Facilities Master Plan, the schools have 240 empty seats between them, although enrolment varies widely.
Mountain View has a portable wing of six classrooms and is 24 students over capacity, while R.L. Hyslop has the most surplus seats at 88, nearly a third of its 285 capacity.
Sir Isaac Brock, which has 23 empty seats, is on the list for a proposed study the following year in east Hamilton that also includes Elizabeth Bagshaw, Glen Brae, Glen Echo, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
The schools have a combined surplus of 639 pupil spaces, with most of those at Bagshaw and Laurier – 316 and 257, respectively
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 projects stemming from previous closure studies – including a controversial plan to spend nearly $19 million to upgrade two Westdale elementary schools to make way for the closure of Prince Philip.
The 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.