Talk of an impending closure of SCITS—Sarnia Collegiate Institute & Technical School—has led to the formation of a local group opposed to the idea and a call by Sarnia’s Mayor to investigate the impact a closure would have on the local neighbourhood.
Mike Bradley, in a letter sent to City Councillors on Wednesday, says he would like to see an impact study related to the closure of either SCITS or St. Clair High School, specifically mentioning the surrounding neighbourhoods, the commercial areas of Mitton Village and the downtown as well as “any other social and economic issues that would have a negative impact on the people of Sarnia.”
In the meantime, a local group has launched a website in support of saving SCITS. That site is at www.savescits.ca.
At least part of the group’s argument against the potential closure includes reference to an auditorium, which exists at SCITS but which is lacking at St. Clair.
“Closing SCITS, and thereby losing the auditorium, is a case of fiscal irresponsibility,” said a page on the website. “Given that the auditorium’s existence is not acknowledged in the ARC report prepared by the school board, this report consequently fails to address the financial ramifications of losing this facility.”
Under a proposed plan, St. Clair students would move to SCITS for one school year, beginning in September 2016, during which time renovations would take place at St. Clair. In September 2017, all students would be relocated to the St. Clair site.
The Lambton Kent District School Board says it plans to request $14 million from the province for renovations. That money would be directed toward construction of a new theatre, a First Nations centre and an upgraded athletic facility. There is said to be another $12 million required for various plumbing and electrical upgrades.
The first of two meetings by an Accommodation Review Committee (which includes students, parents, community members and principals) has been held and second meeting is scheduled for March 8. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. at SCITS.
Susan MacKenzie, a member of the Save SCITS group, says she believes the school would have to fund the project through a third-party community partner.
“Constructing a new auditorium may be possible IF related to a community partner AND a school consolidation proposal,” MacKenzie has said. “This means the (school board) has not presented their public information and plans in a transparent way. IF there is a community partner to financially back the auditorium construction at (St. Clair), the public should know.”