School Renewal Frequently Asked Questions – Updated June 6, 2016

Frequently Asked QuestionsLakehead Public Schools will be continuously updating this FAQ page throughout the Renewal Process. If you have a question that has not been addressed yet, please submit it to renewal@lakeheadschools.ca and the answer will be posted as soon as possible.

Click here for an Overview of the School Renewal Plan

Why were all of the secondary schools not represented on the committee formed by the Superior Secondary School Athletic Association (SSSAA) that made recommendations regarding the Renewal Plan options for the North Side?

The group of athletic administrators that met to draft a report relative to the proposed amalgamations included representatives from all four Lakehead Public Schools secondary schools. Not all of the members of the committee signed the report.

How can I best support my child through this transition?

From our Special Education Officer and our Mental Health Lead: “Children typically look to the adults in their lives to help guide their responses to new situations. It’s important that you support your child’s uncertainty in ways that best help them successfully transition to their new school. Talk to your child about their worries, but try to adopt a generally positive and optimistic tone. Remember that their anxiety may be mixed with anticipation and excitement. Making repeated visits to the school, as well as reminding your child that their friends will be moving too, will help your child look forward to this new chapter in their life.”

Can you provide the capacities of all secondary school gymnasiums?

The capacity of a gymnasium will vary, depending on the space required for the event that is being held and how people are seated or otherwise accommodated. In general, when scheduling sporting events or other events through community use, we use the following capacity guidelines for our secondary gymnasiums:

  • Hammarskjold High School:  large gym – 790; small gym – N/A (being converted to a weight room)
  • Sir Winston Churchill CVI: 788
  • Superior CVI: 778
  • Westgate CVI: large gym – 825; small gym – 400

Why does Superior have such a low facility condition index (FCI) of 0.42% but projected facility renewal needs of over $10 million? That doesn’t seem to work with the calculation of FCI.

We have confirmed with the Ministry that the FCI of 0.42% for Superior is correct. We have also raised the issue with them about the high cost of facility renewal needs that were pulled from their database for Superior CVI.

Can you please provide some clarification on the facility renewal needs that the school board anticipates undertaking for each school?

The Ministry of Education assesses the condition of school board buildings and all of the building’s components at a particular point in time. The assessed condition and replacement cycle is largely based on standard benchmark lifespans of equipment and building components, and does not always necessarily reflect the reality in our schools. The funding received by the board for school renewal does not allow us to address all of the needs that have been identified by the assessor.

The following figures are reflective of the renewal expenditures that the board foresees for each school over the next five years:

  • Agnew H. Johnston: $ 1,030,000
  • C.D. Howe: $ 650,000
  • Edgewater Park: $ 1,286,000
  • St. James: $ 1,435,000
  • Sir Winston Churchill CVI: $ 2,900,000
  • Vance Chapman: $ 955,000
  • Westgate CVI: $ 1,930,000
  • Hammarskjold High School: $ 3,175,000
  • Superior CVI: $ 595,000

What is the capacity of the gymnasium at Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute?

According to the fire code, the capacity of the gym at Superior is as follows:

  • 861 persons where non-fixed seats are used;
  • 530 persons where bleachers are used.

Can you clarify some of the information around “technology” at the north side high schools?

Information Technology:
Both schools have fibre connections into the building, which means that we can bring as much bandwidth into the facility as is required. The only distinction between the 2 schools is that Superior has fibre technology wired to each classroom and Hammarskjold has copper. This means that the classrooms at Superior could have access to unlimited bandwidth while copper at Hammarskjold is limited to 1 gig of bandwidth. Currently, both schools use 100 mgs of bandwidth which has been sufficient to deliver effective programming to students. Evolving advances in technology will determine upgrades that are required over time at both sites.

Hard Technology (welding, transportation, manufacturing, etc):
Equipment that has been installed in our buildings can be moved, including lathes, welders, lifts, dust collectors, etc. The pipes, ventilation and other infrastructure within the walls could not be relocated, and retrofitting may be required.

Is there a concern that the glass building features at Superior CVI would not be suitable for an elementary school?

All of the glass that has been installed at Superior meets building code regulations for educational facilities constructed at that time.

Do trustees have to choose one of the options in the initial staff report?

No. After the public consultation period is complete, and trustees have heard public delegations, administration will draft a final staff report that includes one recommended accommodation for the South side of the city, and one for the North side. Trustees may choose not to accept the option that has been presented by administration.

Will Trustees be at the public ARC meetings?

On each ARC committee there is one school board trustee who monitors the process as an ad hoc member. The purpose of the public ARC meeting is for parents and other members of the school community to directly address the accommodation review committee. There will be an opportunity in September for delegations which will directly address trustees. For more information on the accommodation review committee, please refer to 9010 Pupil Accommodation Review Policy and Procedures which can be found here.

Will the public be permitted to provide handouts to the accommodation review committee or other audience members at the upcoming public ARC meetings?

No. If a member of the public has prepared written material that they would like the accommodation review committee to consider, there will be a designated place for them to leave it. Materials are not to be distributed to other audience members at the public meeting.

What are the guidelines for asking questions or making comments at the public meeting?

It is important that we hear as many voices as possible throughout this process. For this reason, each person will be limited to one question at a time during the public meeting. When making a comment, each person will be limited to two minutes. If people have questions or comments remaining at the end of the meeting, we will have comment cards available for them to fill out and leave with board staff. These comments and questions will be considered by the ARC along with the questions and comments that were heard at the public meeting. Similarly, if an individual would like to make a comment that is longer than two minutes, they can leave a written comment to be considered by the ARC. There will also be another opportunity to directly address the accommodation review committee at the final public meeting on June 6 for the South Side Accommodation Review and June 8 for the North Side Accommodation Review. Comments and questions can also be sent directly to renewal@lakeheadschools.ca.

Following consolidation of schools, is there an opportunity to rename or “re-brand” the school that remains open?

Renaming schools is an option. Schools can be renamed in accordance to Policy 8050 – Naming and Opening of New or Consolidated Schools Policy. The policy outlines the process for renaming a school, including the formation of a committee comprised of the area superintendent, representatives from the school’s staff and students, Trustees, and community members. Policy 8050 and the related procedure can be viewed here.

Are the upcoming public ARC meetings for the elementary school communities too?

YES! The ARC on the North side of the city will discuss the renewal plan involving St. James, C.D. Howe, Vance Chapman, Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute and Hammarskjold High School. The meeting will be held at Superior CVI on April 11 at 6:30 p.m. The ARC on the South side of the city will discuss the renewal plan involving Agnew H. Johnston, Edgewater Park, Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute and Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute . It is being held at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. We encourage parents and other interested members of the elementary and secondary school communities to attend the ARC meetings and be involved in the process.

What is the ARC committee going to do?

This committee has an important role in this process. The committee is considered a “conduit” of information between the public and the board. Committee members will listen to community input and questions at the public meetings. At the working meetings, committee members may bring forward their own thoughts and ideas, as well as the thoughts and ideas of the group that they represent, about the accommodation options presented in the initial staff report. They may provide alternative accommodation options with supporting rationale. The information will be included in the final staff report and will be considered by trustees when they make the final accommodation decision in October.

What will you do with the information that is gathered at the public ARC meetings?

Minutes of the ARC working and public meetings will be recorded and posted on the board website. This helps to ensure that the process is open and transparent. The information that is collected will also be included in the “community consultation” section of the final staff report that will be submitted to trustees so they can make a final decision.

How will information from this committee be presented to the Board?

The ARC will not write a report, however the committee will decide how the information should be categorized, so that compelling ideas and significant themes that have emerged are highlighted to trustees. It is important to remember that the information that is provided should be focused on the potential for enhancing the learning environment and providing the best educational opportunities for students when considering the recommended options in the initial staff report. The information will be included in the final staff report to trustees which is written by board staff.

If I register my child at the other Lakehead Public high school that is on the same side of town, will transportation be provided?

Yes. Please indicate that your child wishes to transfer on your registration form. You will be contacted regarding transportation for the fall.

Are class sizes larger in a larger elementary or secondary school? I want my child to get the individual attention that they need.

A larger school does not mean bigger classes. Even though there are more students in the school, class sizes must remain within Ministry of Education guidelines. In some cases, classes in a bigger school may be smaller because of fewer split grades in elementary schools or more sections of different courses in secondary schools. Students will continue to get the personal attention that they need—we agree with you that this is extremely important.

What will happen to high school sports after renewal?

High school sports will continue to be offered following the renewal process. In some cases, there will be two less teams competing. However, it is expected that the consolidations will provide more opportunities for students to partake in sporting and co-curricular activities.

If my child who is a current secondary school student wishes to transfer to the receiving school prior to the completion of the renewal process, will he/she be able to participate in Superior Secondary School Athletic Association (SSSAA) sanctioned sporting activities?

No. SSSAA follows Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) policies. OFSAA policy will not allow a student to participate in SSSAA sporting activity for one year following a transfer. Some extenuating circumstances do allow for transferred students to participate, but an early transfer prior to the planned closure of a school would not be included and would exclude the student from competitions. This would not apply to students registering for Grade 9 in September 2016.

How will the School Renewal Plan benefit students?

We believe that our School Renewal Plans will offer a better educational experience for our students. Increased choice and multiple pathways for success will allow students to achieve academic excellence and reach personal goals, no matter what post-secondary opportunities they wish to pursue. More sections of core courses will reduce course conflicts, and will allow schools to offer more special interest courses. Investments in technology, learning environments and facilities will enhance teaching and learning. Our students will enjoy better educational and co-curricular opportunities because our renewal plans help to ensure that funding is going towards providing the best programming and services for students.

Why are there two options in the North Side Renewal Plan?

Lakehead Public Schools is committed to community engagement throughout this process. While each option presented for the North Side is unique, we feel that both options will provide students with opportunities for academic excellence, personal success and well-being. Both options will ensure that students learn in a safe, equitable and inclusive environment. Both options include updated facilities and investments in technology that will enhance teaching and learning. It is important that we hear from parents and members of the school community about which aspects of the North Side Renewal Plan options matter most, and which aspects will best support student achievement and well-being. This will inform our decision about which option to include in the final staff report.

Is it possible to shorten the timelines of the pupil accommodation review so that trustees can make the decision sooner?

No. Once the pupil accommodation review process has started, there are timelines that we are required to follow. This helps to ensure that parents and others in the school community are provided with enough time to offer meaningful input about the options that have been presented. Timelines for the North Side and South Side pupil accommodation reviews can be found on our website: https://www.lakeheadschools.ca/lakehead-public-schools-renewal-plan/.

How will Superior CVI accommodate a Special Needs Program?

Both options presented in the North Side Renewal Plan include a special needs program. Superior CVI is an accessible building which includes a large elevator. The building will be renovated to accommodate a special needs program, including specialized equipment and resources to ensure that all students receive quality programming. Students will continue to be provided with a continuum of services to support a range of learning opportunities designed to meet their needs.

Will there be a transition plan for students with special needs?

Yes. Once trustees make a decision about the renewal plan in October 2016, we will work with our students, families and staff to ensure a successful transition for all students. Transitions will not take place until September 2017, and this will allow time to ensure that we are able to create the best possible plans for each student.

What about opportunities for students with special needs in the community?

We will continue to work with our community partners to provide students with a variety of opportunities such as co-op placements and field trips. Quality programming for students in the special needs program, including specialized programs and resources will continue to be offered, regardless of the location of the program.

What will happen to daycares in schools that may be consolidated or closed?

We know that providing child care in our schools is important to our Lakehead Public Schools families, and it is important to us too! As part of our school renewal plans, we feel that we have a place in our schools for all of our current leaseholders, including child cares. Decisions about the location of child care programs are made by the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) and we are committed to continuing to work with them, as well as with our child care providers, to help meet the needs of our families.

Will French Immersion continue to be offered at Agnew H. Johnston Public School?

Absolutely! The French Immersion program is growing. In fact, we are outgrowing the building! As part of our South Side renewal plan, we are proposing building a new elementary school to house students from Agnew and Edgewater Park. The school will be dual track—with both English and French Immersion streams!

What will happen during construction?

Business as usual! Students will stay at their home school during construction.