The 90-year-old Haileybury Public School in Temiskaming Shores, Ontario was voted permanently closed by the District School Board Ontario North East board of trustees Wednesday due to declining enrollment.
The school, built in 1925, will close its doors forever at the end of the school year on June 30.
The board will then put the property up for sale.
The students currently attending Haileybury Public School from junior Kindergarten to Grade 5 will go to New Liskeard Public School, while the current Grade 6 students transitioning into grade 7 will attend Timmiskaming District High School, a Grade 7-12 school.
Board Chair Doug Shearer indicated that the original discussion to close Haileybury Public School was linked to the building of a brand new consolidated school from junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“This motion now only calls for the consolidation with New Liskeard Public School it doesn’t follow the earlier Pupil Accommodation Review recommendation,” said Shearer.
Dennis Draves wondered if by consolidating Haileybury with New Liskeard Public school reduce DSBONE’s leverage to get a new school.
Bob Brush, the acting chair, said that there are cost savings by amalgamating the two schools.
The parents recognize that it is in state of declining enrollment
In the end, it was the Ontario Ministry of Education’s decision to defund schools who were within 10 km of a larger school which sealed Haileybury Schools fate.
In 2015, the Ministry of Education announced its plan to reduce funding of underpopulated schools and ordered the four school boards - English Public, French Public, English Catholic and French Catholic - to undertake Pupil Accommodation planning to determine how to consolidate schools to save administration costs.
Doug Shearer, the chair of the board who participated via web cam while on holiday, called for a recorded vote on the matter in which the way each trustee vote is noted instead of the usual show of hands.
The motion that Haileybury Public School be consolidated with New Liskeard Public school effective June 30, 2016 was taken to a recorded vote.
Those voting in favour of closing Haileybury Public School were:
Bruce Cutten (Temiskaming Shores, Temagami, Elk Lake and area)
Bob Brush, (Timmins)
Dennis Draves, (Cochrane)
Tom Henderson (Englehart)
Saunders Porter (Iroquois Falls and Matheson)
Shearer (Temiskaming Shores, Temagami, Elk Lake and area)
Rosemary Pochopsky (Kirkland Lake)
Howard Archibald (First Nations Trustee)
Peter Osterberg (Timmins)
Heather Bozzer (Timmins)
Wayne Major (Hearst and Kapuskasing)
The board of trustees then voted in favour of a second motion that called on the Ministry of Education to fund a new consolidated school from junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 to accommodate students currently going to Haileybury Public School, New Liskeard Public School and Timmiskaming District High School.
Linda Knight, the Director of Education, informed the trustees that they had until the end of March to make a submission in requesting funding for a new school.
The trustees voted to send the request by today Thursday March 24.
At the heart of the decision was to close the school was the steadily declining enrolment at Haileybury P.S.
The school also was shutdown temporarily for a period due to a problem with mould which was replaced at a cost of about $1 million in 2013
The school has a capacity of 325 students, but only 74 attend the school today.
And projected enrollment for 2017 indicate a further decline to 65-67 students.
“The whole top floor was not being used,” said Linda Knight, DSBONE director of education, as she gave her report on why Haileybury P.S. was a candidate for closure.
The school which used to house grades from junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, last year became a junior elementary with junior Kindergarten to Grade 6.
The Grade 7 and 8 students were amalgamated with Timmiskaming District High School.