Amherstburg Consulted On School Review

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board meets for its regular meeting on November 24, 2015. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board met at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School to discuss with the community of Amherstburg the process to take after the review of two elementary schools.

The two schools up for review are St. Bernard Elementary School and Stella Maris Elementary School. The board found “empty spaces” in the schools and wanted to address it with the community.

The WECDSB opened up the floor for discussion from the community members regarding any concerns about the possible closure of St. Bernard and transfer of students to Stella Maris.

John Miceli, chief administrative officer for the Town of Amherstburg, brought up many points to the board regarding facts the board themselves shared with the public in the report provided earlier in the school year. He says there are a lot of things to factor before making any decisions.

“We looked over the information the board has made public,” says Miceli. “We reviewed it. We did identify some challenges that will occur should the board consider to close St. Bernards and leave Stella Maris open.”

These challenges included parking and busing issues as well as issues regarding space and enrollment, he says.

However, on the other side of the debate father of twins enrolled at Stella Maris, Frank Cleminson, ensured Stella Maris was the right choice for the school’s location and it would be an easy transition for all.

“The students and the staff would welcome with open arms,” said Cleminson. “I would want to make sure that’s part of the reason I’m here – for a good transition to make them warm and welcome.”

Barbara Holland, the chairperson for the WECDSB, says there is still a lot to be thought over.

“Everything that we heard tonight will be discussed and will be brought to the board in the minutes of tonight’s meeting,” says Holland.

The final decision will not be made until April and Holland says they will use up all of that time to come up with the best conclusion.

“We’re nowhere close to a final decision,” says Holland. “We’re still in the process of taking input and gathering input and who better to get that input than from people who live in that community and experience it every single day.”

The board will continue to meet with other communities regarding empty space issues and then decide what makes the most sense financially and for the communities in early April.