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WEHSA convened a meeting with Mike Dubeau, Director General, WQSB, on December 12, for a follow-up discussion on the proposed School Transportation Boundaries for St. Michael's and Philemon Wright/Hadley Schools following the submission of WEHSA's letter to the Board. We thank the parents who participated in the discussion.
Mr. Dubeau shared a new alternative proposal that will be presented next Tuesday, December 17, to the WQSB Planning and Review Committee as part of other potential approaches for addressing the school enrolment and transportation issues. The proposal would redraw the boundaries to make Wakefield (La Pêche) and Poltimore neutral zones thereby giving back families the ability to choose between the two schools and to be provided busing where Wakefield would serve as a transportation hub. See the image below for the new alternative boundaries.
Under the proposal the communities of Kazabazua and Chelsea, however, would still lose their ability to choose and would be required to send their children to St. Micheal's and Philemon Wright/Hadley, respectively. However, grandfathering would be respected, where students already attending a school would be able to continue and to get busing. Cross-border applications would also be accepted, where possible. Those families in Kazabazua and Chelsea who may be negatively affected are encouraged to reach out to Mr. Dubeau directly to discuss alternatives.
This alternative proposal was described as a good compromise to address the issues that have been raised at the different consultations. It also helps in setting a needed enrolment criteria for St. Michael's High School in order to address its capacity limitations while at the same time gaining transportation efficiencies. It was stressed that St. Michael's enrollment would need to be carefully monitored as part of the proposal.
Following the meeting next Tuesday by the WQSB Planning and Review Committee, a decision is expected by the Council of Commissioners in January. Mr. Dubeau committed to following-up with WEHSA following the meeting on Tuesday.
WEHSA is encouraged that the Board has listened to the concerns of our school families in coming up with this alternative approach. We also thank Mr. Dubeau for his outreach and for offering to come to meet with our community a second time.
While recognizing and appreciating the WQSB's effort to consult, participants at the discussion stressed the importance of holding consultations earlier in the process when the issue of enrolment and school boundaries is revisited in the future.