Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
The Avon Maitland District School Board is adjusting boundaries so that families moving into one of Stratford’s yet-to-be-built subdivisions won’t have far to send their kids to school.
School board staff have been monitoring housing starts in the city over the last few years, particularly the two new developments in the northwest corner.
The board anticipates an additional 55-60 students across Kindergarten to Grade 8 once construction is complete and the two projects’ 450-plus units – a mix of single-family homes, townhouses, and multi-family dwellings – are occupied.
Construction on the first phase of what’s being called Ashfield Park, from London-based developer Coventry, is expected to begin soon and could have homes move-in ready as soon as this fall.
The subject lands – bordered by the two high schools to the south, O’Loane Avenue to the west, and the Rotary Complex to the east – were acquired by the city from Perth East through annexation in 2007, and until recently fell within the geographical area serviced by Central Perth Elementary School in Sebringville.
Under the boundary changes, the students, rather than be bussed outside of Stratford to attend classes, will attend Avon Public school for junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 and Stratford Northwestern Secondary school for Grades 7-12.
According to Avon Maitland superintendent of education, Mike Ash, both schools are below capacity level and can comfortably accommodate additional pupils.
Capacity at Avon is currently between 60-70 per cent and the board anticipates secondary school enrollment throughout the city to drop by as much as 12 per cent over the next 10 years, a decline that Ash said is on par with other high schools in Ontario outside of the GTA.
Bedford Public school, meanwhile, while close to the new developments, is already at 90 per cent capacity and would not provide a long-term solution, Ash noted.
He added the board’s enrollment projections take into account the impact of full-day Kindergarten once it is fully implemented in all elementary schools for the beginning of the 2014/15 school year.
The board was able to come to a decision regarding the boundaries quickly since the affected area is still under development and has no residents.
“It certainly was easier,” Ash said about the process, noting the board would have followed its typical public consultation model had there been affected families.
Ash, however, said the board did keep in mind comments heard during its last accommodation review held in Stratford – when decisions were made regarding the French immersion program and boundary adjustments – that families would prefer their kids attend a school as close to home as possible.
“We’re able to accommodate that desire in this particular case,” Ash added.
The majority of students living in the new subdivisions will be able to walk to Northwestern while buses will be provided for those attending Avon.