Five towns south of Ottawa are making a hard economic case for keeping their schools open in the face of a provincial push to close half-empty buildings to save money.
“With no school, we anticipate that we would have younger families moving out of the area. There wouldn’t be the attraction — the two most important things people look for is schools and medical facilities,” said Mayor Evonne Delegarde of South Dundas near Cornwall, in an interview Wednesday.
Two of South Dundas’s three schools are on the block, including its high school. Students now at Seaway District High School, where Delegarde herself went, would be sent to two other schools, one of them outside South Dundas’s county of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
“Both of the other schools are minimum 20 minutes away by car, and you can imagine how long it would take by school bus,” Delegarde said. “It would take the students away and out of our area. It would affect them with after-school jobs and it would affect after-school programming whether it’s hockey or dance or tae kwon do. … For families, it would change everything. Many of them rely on the older students to babysit.”
Seaway’s 50th anniversary celebration is coming up in the spring, after the Upper Canada District School Board takes its vote.