With all of the excitement of the recently announced funding for a public high school in the Fernbank area, I thought I would take an opportunity to share some information regarding the progress for a future public elementary school in Stittsville as shared with me from Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) Trustee, Lynn Scott.
The OCDSB is currently consulting on capital priorities, and has developed a District Needs Analysis (DNA) that looks at sub-areas across the city, current and projected enrolments, and future needs for new schools.
A DNA provides a current and future snapshot of the District’s facilities inventory by taking into account:
- Growth pressures;
- Trends in enrolment;
- Gaps in program accessibility;
- New program initiatives;
- Facility condition; and
- Suitability as teaching and learning space.
The document was prepared before the province announced funding for a public high school in Stittsville, thus taking care of the Number One capital priority on the list. Looking ahead, however, one of the OCDSB’s needs in the near future will be for an elementary school in the Blackstone/Fernbank area. Given the fact that existing Stittsville elementary schools are fairly close to capacity, the DNA identifies a need for the new elementary school by 2020, and notes that two of the four elementary school sites identified in the Fernbank area are expected to be available and serviced within the next two years.
So what does this all mean?
Well, as residents who have been anxiously awaiting funding for a public high school for years will be able to attest to, the process of accessing provincial funding for new school construction is unpredictable, and the province does not always have the capacity to fund projects as they are needed.
It remains to be determined whether or not there will be another provincial call for school boards to submit new Capital Priorities Lists later this spring; however, the OCDSB is proceeding to develop a new list and seeks public input on the DNA.
I highly encourage residents to learn more about the DNA process and to submit their comments by visiting https://www.ocdsb.ca/cms/One.aspx?portalId=55478&pageId=6194364
Education is an important part of building communities and while building and funding new schools presents its own unique set of challenges, it is very important for residents to make their voices heard in the planning process to ensure that Stittsville can continue to grow according to its needs.