During the intervening years the demographics in many east end communities has changed considerably. In the early 1990s Cairine Wilson Secondary School had over 1200 students, today they have less than 800.
Gloucester High School had more than 1700 students. Now they have less than 1200 and the number continues to dwindle as the community around it continues to age.
Not far away, Rideau High School on St. Laurent Blvd. is sitting half empty with less than 600 students.
The board has made it clear that it cannot continue to operate with half-empty schools. In order to consolidate space in the east end, they’ve embarked on a school accommodation study taking in Rideau High School, Gloucester High School and Colonel By High School with an eye to closing one of the three institutions.
At the same time, they plan to examine measures designed to shore up enrollment at Cairine Wilson Secondary School.
The study, or studies, will be conducted in two phases. The first phase of the study will look at redirecting students living in Chapel Hill North to Cairine Wilson.
At present students living in the Chapel Hill North have a choice of which high school they can attend depending on where they live. Some of the students go to Gloucester, some of the students can choose between Gloucester and Cairine Wilson and some of the students can choose between Colonel By and Cairine Wilson.
The staff recommendation would send all the students living in Chapel Hill North to Cairine Wilson beginning in Grade 9 next year.
Part B of Phase 1 will look at giving public board students living in Avalon and along the Trim Road corridor between St. Joseph Blvd. and Innes Rd. the option of attending either Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary or Cairine Wilson. Currently about 100 students apply for a cross boundary transfer to attend Cairine Wilson every year which takes up a tremendous amount of time to process.
An open house aimed at addressing both aspects of the East End Secondary Schools Accommodation Study will be held at Cairine Wilson at 7 p.m. on Dec. 11.
A second open house dealing with the Orléans Elementary School Accommodation Study aimed at determining whether the board should close Dunning Foubert Elementary School or Queenswood Public School will be held at Cairine Wilson on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
The two schools are operating well under capacity and the board wants to close one of them by next September.