I would like to take a moment and share some information regarding the effort to have a public high school opened in Stittsville. The need for a public high school in the community first appeared on the radar in 2006, at a time when the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) wasn’t establishing the kind of specific capital priorities lists it has in the past few years.
At that time, it was felt that the high school would need to be built by 2010 in order to accommodate Stittsville’s burgeoning youth population. However, that didn’t happen.
Today, more than 500 high school students bus out of Stittsville every day to attend South Carleton, while others switch to another school board so they can remain in Stittsville. According to OCDSB school trustee, Lynn Scott, approximately 12 buses are required to take these students from Stittsville to Richmond each day, at a cost approaching $600,000 annually.
In October, 2013, the OCDSB released a Capital Priorities list, marking a Stittsville public high school as the #4 priority. However, in March 2014, schools that were lower on the list were awarded funding over Stittsville. Given that the necessary budget exceeds that needed for many other projects, there is simply no way the province will be able to financially sustain enough funds to allocate a new public high school if it is being overlooked to fund other schools. As such, Stittsville’s voice must be heard.
Stittsville has a current population of over 31,000 which is expected to grow to over 70,000 within the next 20 years and it has grown by over 10,000 since the need was first identified in 2006. There is no other community of this size in Ontario that does not have a public high school.
Parents should not be forced to choose between their only two options being sending their children to another school board or 15km away every day.
As of the October 31, 2013 OCDSB Elementary Enrolment Report, two of Stittsville’s three public elementary schools are over capacity with the third being less than 1% under capacity.
Many parents who start their children in non-denominational schools end up sending them to a Catholic high school because of convenience rather than choice.
I have been working with members of our community to make it clear to the Minister of Education and the province that we are in dire need for a public high school. With this said, I strongly encourage all of those in support to come out to a meeting being held May 24th at 7:30 PM at 133 Greenbank Rd, Nepean, ON K2H 6L3 either to speak or simply to demonstrate our commitment to this proposal through community presence. If you intend to speak, please arrive early to register. I would love to see a large number of parents attend this board meeting for community support.
If you would like to know more about this topic or simply want to get involved, I encourage you to email me at Shad.Qadri@ottawa.ca. As always, I welcome your keen input and ideas on how we can work together to keep an open dialogue within the community of Stittsville.