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Pay attention to high school issue: Barrie councillor

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In Barrie
Sep 21st, 2010
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Simcoe.com September 20 2010
BARRIE – The first meeting of a committee to discuss the future of Barrie Central – as well as other Barrie high schools – meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Barrie Central.
Although it still needs parents of high school students to join, the Accommodation Review Committee begins its work, starting with a recommendation by Simcoe County District School Board staff.
Details of that recommendation, however, were not made public – despite the school board’s practice of publishing agendas and reports at least 48 hours before a meeting.
“Hopefully the administration at the board hasn’t come to some conclusions before they start this process and hopefully the accommodation review committee will be deciding,” said Barrie Coun. Lynn Strachan, the city’s appointee to the committee.
“I’m hopeful with the change in (provincial and school board) policy that came out of ARC C (on Prince of Wales last year), this ARC will be much better run and be able to come to a sound decision as a group. The last time, the decision was not made by consensus.”
The ARC recommended closing Prince of Wales – which will close in June 2011 – and expand Hillcrest and Portage View public schools. School boundaries have already started to shift, with the last shift happening next September.
Strachan said closing Barrie Central would be disastrous for the city’s efforts to intensify and attract families and employers to the city core – which is a provincial directive in Places to Grow. The planning policy directs the city to offer a range of housing choices in the city core, as well as encourage a range of services and employment opportunities there.
“The entire community should be paying attention to this. Anyone with children in public schools will be affected. Ultimately what this committee decides will have a huge impact not just on education but on the way the city grows and develops,” said Strachan.“A high school plays a key role in community development. How can we attract people to our downtown as outlined in our growth plan when they don’t have a school to send their kids to? It’s ridiculous.”

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