The administration at the Lambton Kent District School Board has issued a “final staff report” regarding consolidation of two south Sarnia high schools, perhaps not unexpectedly sticking with their original proposal to ultimately close SCITS—Sarnia Collegiate Institute & Technical School—in favour of having St. Clair Secondary School open.
Trustees will vote on the proposal at their May 10 meeting. Public delegations will make their pitch to the board at an April 26 meeting.
While the report acknowledges a strong negative community reaction to the proposal, including a City of Sarnia staff report that sees the closure of St. Clair as being the most viable option from a community impact standpoint, the school board maintains that costs play a role in the decision and that it would cost more to keep SCITS open.
Susan Mackenzie, who is involved in a community group advocating for SCITS to remain open, said she is not surprised by the recommendation.
“The final report is a compilation of what (the administration) put in the initial staff report,” said Mackenzie. “They seem to be looking for ways to stack the cards against SCITS remaining open.”
Under the board-initiated plan, students at St. Clair and SCITS would be together at the SCITS building for a year starting this fall. In September 2017, SCITS would close and all students from SCITS and St. Clair would return to St. Clair, which would likely be renamed in a process that is to be defined by trustees.
Mackenzie believes a “funding opportunity” to seek capital improvement dollars is at the heart of the recommendation.
What is missing in the discussions, she said, is that not all the money that would be sought by the school board (about $14 million) would have to be spent at St. Clair. “It would go into their general renewal accounts,” said Mackenzie.