Plans are underway to move Huntsville’s Adult and Alternate Education Centre from its current location on Centre Street North to Huntsville High School.
The announcement was made at a Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) Committee of the Whole meeting on April 9, 2019, and while the logistics are still being worked out, the move is expected to take place in time for the new school year this September.
“This is taking place in many school boards across Ontario, so we’re looking at what other school boards have done, and what has worked, and trying to get some ideas for moving forward,” explained manager of corporate communications for TLDSB, Catherine Shedden.
A recent $1.6 million reduction in school operations funding, due in part to changes to the funding formula, have prompted the change.
“To be able to fund it fully as a separate stand-alone school it has to be further away than 20 kilometres from the nearest school, and so it wasn’t being funded in the same way that it had been in the past because, of course, it’s not 20 kilometres away from Huntsville High School,” said Shedden.
Bruce Reain, school board trustee for this area, also noted that funding for the education centres is now based on completed credits, rather than the number of students. “In a regular high school we get funding every day a student is in school. That’s why we take attendance all the time, you have to send that in to justify that there are students in the school… whether they complete the credit or not, if those students are in the school, you’re getting funding,” he said. “At Adult Ed, the new way of counting, it isn’t counting the students, it is counting the credits generated.”
The annual credit count for all six learning centres within the TLDSB catchment area has been generally decreasing. A report submitted by TLDSB staff at the April 9 meeting noted that in the 2013/2014 school year students completed 702.5 credits, while in the 2017/2018 school year, they completed 486 credits. Over the past five years, Huntsville’s education centre has been serving, on average, about 50 students per year.
Of the six adult learning centres in the TLDSB, four locations—Huntsville, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and Fenelon Falls—all of which are leased spaces, will be impacted.
Reain said given a choice, he would not be moving Huntsville’s Adult and Alternate Education Centre from its current location, but the program is running at a deficit. “We’ve got to make sure that it’s efficient,” he said, adding that by moving the education centre to the high school, the cost of leasing the space would be eliminated.
“We’re going to make it work,” he said.“Lots of people have trouble with change. You know the Province, yes, they need money, they’re in debt and just as we would do at home if we’re in trouble financially, we would look at all ways within a household of saving money, cutting back, and we’re doing the same in education right now,” said Reain. “I think their [the Province’s]goal is to save money every year, and I hope that that happens. That’s what we’re trying to do, and still deliver quality education.”
Asked whether jobs would be impacted by the move, Shedden responded with the following via email: “We will be following our collective agreements when reviewing staffing for the upcoming school year. It is important to note that we are moving the program, not closing it. So there may or may not be a reduction in staffing. As I’m sure you are aware, there is an overall change in secondary staffing due to the recently announced changes in class size. Once we have received the GSNs (Grants for Student Needs) from the ministry we will be able to more accurately plan staffing for next year.”
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