In 2005, a parent of three small children at the time, I along with some other dedicated moms, created a petition and gained support from over 5,300 people in a very short time frame, that supported a secondary school being built in Wasaga Beach. This was presented to the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) for consideration.
In 2008/2009 I sat as a Wasaga Beach Council Representative on the SCDSB Accommodation Review Committee (ARC). This was a group of individuals representing Collingwood, Clearview, Springwater, Wasaga Beach, Penetanguishene and Midland tasked to look at the needs of students in these municipalities. This was a lengthy process where communities were pitted against other communities. Wasaga Beach was the only community of the six represented who did not already have a secondary school. Common sense was non-existent and with none of the five other communities willing to look past the needs of their own community, we were left with status quo.
More ARC’s have occurred over the years more recently for the Penetanguishene and Midland Secondary Schools. Despite the fact that no one wants to see a school close, the School Board Trustees finally made the decision to close Penetanguishene Secondary School and move the students to Midland school, which is a decision they should have made 5 years ago in 2009 after that ARC process. Despite excess capacity at the Midland school and declining enrolment, the trustees have also indicated that they will look for capital funding to build a new school in Midland.
The school board trustees have also identified Elmvale District High School as a capital priority which certainly does not assist Wasaga Beach in our attempts to have a secondary school built here.
Past and present council has taken every opportunity to speak to the Ministry of Education over the years who continues to reiterate that the decision of what is put into the Simcoe County District School Board’s Capital Plan is the responsibility of the Trustees, not the Ministry of Education’s office.
Past and present council have had several meetings and made presentations to help the Simcoe County District School Board Trustees understand the importance of building a secondary school in Wasaga Beach. In addition to these discussions, council presented a business plan to the SCDSB Trustees, offered to contribute $3,000,000 towards a facility partnership and provided several locations of available land to build a secondary school. The Trustees still were not interested.
Until Wasaga Beach has representation at the School Board table by way of a Trustee who will actually defend and speak up for the students in Wasaga Beach it will be difficult for any Town Council to have an impact at the School Board as the decision of where and when to build schools is in the Trustees hands.
In my opinion, Wasaga Beach residents need to elect a School Board Trustee who will look after our students best interests as this has been lacking for many years from our past Trustee representation. Even then, the poor decisions and commitments made by the SCDSB Trustees over the past decade will make it very difficult for Wasaga Beach to ever have its own Secondary School.
That being said, Town Council needs to keep trying!!