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elgin public school closing? (fwd)




SAVE OUR SCHOOLS (SOS!)
ELGIN PUBLIC SCHOOL ON CLOSURE LIST

After 111 years, it may be the end for Elgin Public
School. Staff of the Public School Board have put
Elgin on the closure list. Elgin students would be
sent either to York Street School in Lowertown or
Centennial School at Gloucester and Percy.

We need your help now to save our neighbourhood
school. If the school board trustees approve the staff
recommendations on October 23, Elgin students and
families and citizens of Centretown will be the
losers.

What you can do to help:

* Call the Elgin closure hotline at 230-3113 to offer
help or ask for information.

* Come to our Community Forum on Tuesday, September 19
starting at 7:30pm in the Elgin School gym (entrance
on Gilmour). This event is co-sponsored by the Elgin
School Council, the Centretown Citizens' Community
Association and the Jack Purcell Recreation
Association.

* Show your support by coming to Board Headquarters on
Tuesday, September 26 when Elgin and other schools put
their case to board trustees. The meeting starts at
7:30pm. The Elgin Hotline message will provide details
after September 22.

* Call Beverley Boyd at 233-4465 if you have
pre-school children who would attend Elgin. Beverley
is a mother of a future Elgin student and is
organizing a door-to-door campaign to find how many
other future Elgin students there are.

* Consider a donation. Contributions will help defray
substantial photocopying and other expenses. Please
make cheques payable to the "Elgin School Council" and
send to Council Treasurer, Glynda Newton, 70 Park
Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1B2 or drop them off at
the school. Large or small amounts will be much
appreciated.

What would this closure mean for Centretown and the
city?

* Centretown will lose a school which has been the
heart of our community for families since 1890.

* A vibrant city centre needs families with children
as well as restaurants, commerce and entertainment.
Attracting residents to Centretown is a major goal of
the City of Ottawa's Downtown Revitalization Action
Plan. This closure will make attracting families with
children much more difficult.

* The Jack Purcell Community Centre will lose access
to Elgin school gym which is now used seven days a
week. The Jack Purcell Recreation Association will be
forced to cancel fitness and recreational programs for
the entire community and many who work downtown.
Twenty-eight instructors will lose their jobs.

* Even suburban and rural citizens benefit from a
lively city centre.

What does Elgin offer its students?

* A neighbourhood school they can walk to.

* A neighbourhood school where parents, grandparents
and community members devote many volunteer hours to
enhancing their education.

* Excellent teachers in both Early French Immersion
and regular English programs.

* A balanced socio-economic and diverse ethnocultural
student population -- Elgin students come from 44
countries around the globe.

* Proximity to Lisgar  one of our best high schools.
Senior Lisgar students walk over to Elgin 4 days a
week from November to May to help as reading coaches
in a very successful Early Literacy Intervention
Program. They also run a "Key Club" homework program
after school.

* Proximity to Museums, the Parliament Buildings, the
National Arts Centre; Elgin students take full
advantage of these educational and cultural
opportunities.

* Elgin and Lisgar are the only schools in the region
on the fibre optic network grid.

* Fully integrated after-school and PD day programming
at the Jack Purcell Community Centre; and seamless
half-day, PD day and after-school care close by at the
Y and other day care centres.

* Daily access to one of the best equipped, largest
and most sun-safe playgrounds in Centretown. This
playground boasts mature shade trees, two acres of
green space for soccer and other sports, basketball
hoops, a baseball diamond, tennis courts and modern
play structures, the most recent installed free of
charge by the City last fall to meet the latest
Canadian standards.

What will the closure mean for Elgin students?

* Separation of siblings and friends: English program
students will go to York Street School in Lowertown
and the French Immersion students to Centennial Public
School on Gloucester at Percy.

* Reduced parental and community involvement:
Especially for students going to York, many parents
will not be able to participate as volunteers in the
school.

* More busing: Currently, only about 30% of Elgin
students are bused to school -- including many
kindergarten students. Virtually 100% of the 125
students in the English program will be bused to York.
Perhaps half of the 100 French Immersion students
would be bused to Centennial for a total of between
70% and 80%.

* More portables: Both Centennial and York Street
Schools will be at over 100% of capacity and will
likely require portables to accommodate the Elgin
students.

* Another empty playground: With the closure last year
of McNabb and Elgin next year, our children lose daily
access to the two best playgrounds in Centretown.

Why is this happening?

* Our Board faces a $23 million budget shortfall next
year because provincial government funding for
education is inadequate in almost all categories. The
government formula does not even cover the average
cost of teachers' salaries across the province. This
alone produces an $11 million shortfall for our Board.

* A flawed provincial funding formula - see today's
(September 7) Citizen editorial. Desperately needed
new schools in suburban and rural communities will not
be built until existing schools are being used at 100%
of capacity Board-wide.

* The myth of "half-empty urban schools." Premier
Harris has often referred to half-empty urban schools
when trying to justify his accommodation policies. In
fact, our Board has one "half-empty" school inside the
Greenbelt. Overall, Board schools are at 87% inside
the Greenbelt and 81% in central Ottawa.

* Questionable enrolment projections. The Board staff
report indicates that regional projections show a 42%
decline in school-age population inside the Greenbelt
over the next 20 years. Many believe that such a
decline is inconsistent both with the employment and
population increases that our region is already
experiencing due to the high tech boom and an emerging
trend towards urban living. Despite a regional study
which is to provide up-to-date demographic data by
January 2001, the Board has not yet agreed to postpone
these crucial closure decisions to ensure that they
are based on the best possible data.



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