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WEHSA reached out to the St. Michael's High School Home and School Association to send a letter to the WQSB to express concerns regarding the proposed School Transportation Boundaries for the next school year. The proposed boundaries splits our community, and has limited choice for our school families given the late consultations and decision on the matter. The letter was forwarded by email to the WQSB Secretary General, Director General, WQSB Commissioners, our MP, MNA, and local mayors. Read the letter below ....
Following receipt of the letter, Director General, Mike Dubeau from the WQSB, reached out to meet with WEHSA. WEHSA will be meeting with Mr. Dubeau to discuss the issue on Thursday, December 12 at 8pm in the school Library. Anyone who would like to join the discussion is welcome to come.
December 6, 2019
Dear WQSB Commissioners and Representatives,
The Wakefield Elementary Home and School Association (WEHSA) and the St. Michael's High
School Home and School are writing this letter to express our grave concern regarding the
proposed school transportation boundary for St. Michael’s and Hadley/Philemon Wright High
The Home and Schools represent a group of parent volunteers who come together to organize
school fundraisers and events at their respective schools. They also represent member school
families and provide a forum where they can raise issues related to our schools. We are proud
to represent over 85 families this school year.
WEHSA and St. Michael's High School Home and School have been following the discussions
of the WQSB proposal with great interest. As parents, we have also been participating actively.
We join the many parents and individuals who have expressed their concerns and signed the
petition calling for the WQSB not to impose the proposed school transportation boundaries.
Based on the WQSB presentations to date, we fail to see the urgency for a decision for the next
While we agree with the WQSB that the lack of a school transportation boundary for the St.
Michael’s and Hadley/Philemon Wright High Schools presents a challenge, we do not agree with
the proposed solution nor its timing.
Our concerns over the proposed school transportation boundaries reflect those that have been
articulated in the discussions to date, including:
• Divides the Wakefield community, its families and its students; creating a very negative and
• Removes choice between two very different schools that meet different student needs which
is critical particularly for students with special needs, as well as for students looking for
enhanced programs such as French Immersion and/or Sport Etudes.
• Effectively removes alternative school choices for affected families given the lateness in the
discussions as registration deadlines to other schools/programs are now passed.
• Jeopardizes the viability and sustainability of St. Michael’s High School by limiting student
enrollment from its two main feeder schools in Wakefield and Chelsea which account for the
main growth of the school and saved the school from being closed.
• Disporportionately disadvantages families who are not able to transport their children across
• Rising level of anxiety among our Grade 6 students and families who are now faced with
having a school choice imposed on them and who have had very little warning or time to
• Does not adequately consider the complexity of the issue and its impact on affected students,
families and communities.
While the proposed change to the school transportation boundary issue is said to be done in the
spirit of creating equity, we would argue that the proposal put forward is creating important
inequities by taking away choice and leaving families with little to no opportunity to look for
alternative schooling for their children. While we are pleased that discussions are taking place;
regrettably, they have come very late, leaving families next to no time to prepare for alternative
school choices than the one in the WQSB proposal. From this standpoint alone, we would
strongly recommend that a decision be postponed.
We are also very concerned about the impact of the proposed school transportation boundary to
the sustainability and viability of St. Michael’s High School. Wakefield and Chelsea elementary
schools are its primary feeder schools which has led to its growth and survival as a school. The
WQSB proposal would significantly limit student enrollment from these schools. We fail to see
the logic of how the Board expects St. Michael’s to maintain its student numbers and to continue
to grow as a school if it can no longer rely on its main feeder schools. The timing of such a
decision is also difficult to understand as it so closely follows a major capital investment with the
building of the new gym. We would argue that it would be a poor decision with respect to the
use of public funds.
At this important juncture of the school's history, the WQSB should be capitalizing on
St. Michael's recent success, and look for opportunities and creative solutions to enhance its
capacity as well as its programming in critical areas such as French immersion. The
presentations to date have been silent in this regard, limiting the issue to one of transportation.
The discussions to date have raised some of these broader issues, as well as provided
constructive feedback and other potential solutions for the school transportation boundary issue
in question, including creating transportation hubs in Wakefield and Chelsea, as well as
examining alternative bus routes and partnerships with the French school board and affected
municipalities. Consideration could also be given to a more targeted approach to address the
capacity issue at St. Michael's rather than stripping choice from students. Goodwill has also
been demonstrated by parents who are ready to work together with the WQSB and other
partners to develop solutions that would be mutually agreeable and beneficial.
Given the lateness in the discussions, it is our view that there is too little time to give due
consideration and analysis of the issues raised at the public discussions as well as potential
solutions to address the school transportation issue prior to the meeting of the Council of
Commissioners in January 2020, where a decision would need to be taken in time for next
year’s school registrations. In light of the complexity of the issue and its very broad impact, a
decision in January would be premature and very divisive.
While we understand that the WQSB would honor ‘grandfathering’ of students who presently
attend a school, this does not take into account all those students who do not benefit from
having a sibling in their preferred school. Moreover, given the limited capacity of St. Michael’s
High School, cross-boundary applications would also appear to be restricted, thereby raising the
potential of splitting families between two schools.
Moreover, while we also understand that transportation boundaries are periodically reviewed
and can be changed at any time, we would strongly caution against the Council of
Commissioners from taking a decision in January to move forward with the proposed school
transportation boundary on the assumption that another solution could be worked on for the
2021-2022 school year. This would place our current grade 6 students at a great disadvantage
as well as create unnecessary anxiety and other potential mental health issues. Furthermore, it
would greatly jeopardize the goodwill that has been fostered in the discussions to date and
willingness to work together with the WQSB on a more equitable solution for all parties involved.
Given the goodwill to work in partnership as well as the valid arguments to date against the
proposed school transportation boundary, we are hopeful that the WQSB and the Council of
Commissioners will decide to postpone its decision in favor of working together with parents and
other partners to find a more equitable and mutually beneficial solution.
Lana Noel, WEHSA President
Maggie Holmes, St. Michael's High School Home and School President