Senior school temporary solution to capacity issue at Kincardine elementary schools By Colin Burrowes

On Wednesday Aug. 28, Kincardine District Senior School (KDSS) opened its doors to allow parents and new students to visit the Grade 7 and 8 wing, which has been added to the school.
Kincardine has seen a significant amount of growth in the last few years which has led to a situation where the elementary schools are filled to capacity.
“Bruce Power has years of refurbishment work,” said KDSS principal Mark Ozorio. “I think for the first time ever instead of having contractors come in for a week for a short-term job, live in a motel and go home, we are seeing people relocating to town and they are getting married, raising families and buying houses.”
Ozorio said this has led to increased student enrolment which started at the elementary grades but is becoming a trend at every level.
“It is predicted to occur for another five or six years,” he said.
Like many rural Ontario schools, Kincardine District Secondary School had been seeing a steady decline in enrolment over recent decades so they had unused space to take some of the pressure off of the elementary schools.
“When I started here in 1991, we had 1000 students at this school,” said Ozorio. “We bottomed out at 399 two years ago.”
This year the school will be back up to about 670 students enrolled. That is not only because of the 165 additional Grade 7 and 8 students, but also because there is an increase in Grade 9 students starting with 129 enrolled.
“It’s not huge, but that’s a lot of growth in the last couple of years,” said Ozorio. “That’s a big whack at once but we have room for all of them.”
The classrooms at KDSS which were not in use have been refurbished and will now be home to the Grade 7 and 8 classes. The classrooms have new flooring, fresh paint, new lights and tech walls.
Grade 7 and 8 students have their own hallway at the school separating them from the secondary students.
This is an attempt to prepare for the future because, even with these changes, the elementary schools in Kincardine will continue to have issues keeping up with the rate of growth in the area.
“We have to start thinking about the future now if we are going to need a bigger building,” said Ozorio. “So, in order to have a good business case for the Ministry of Education … we have to prove we’ve used all our resources to the best of our ability and we still need more.”
With Hanover’s John Diefenbaker Senior School (JDSS) moving to a new building this school year, KDSS will be the oldest school in the Bluewater district.
“There is going to be repairs down the road which are going to be prohibitive,” said Ozorio. “So, our hope is there will be a plan well underway before it starts falling apart. The school opened in 1953.”
Ozorio said the same conditions which made replacing JDSS necessary exist in Kincardine.
Although Ozorio spoke of future need in the area he was also very excited about the preparation which has gone into getting the school ready for the arrival of the Grade 7 and 8 students.
“What we have prepared here for the students is in many ways better than what they are coming from,” he said.
Ozorio felt sure parents visiting the improved classrooms would feel comfortable and relaxed sending their children to KDSS.
A concern raised by some parents of grade 7 and 8 students entering KDSS was a need for crosswalks on Broadway Street for children walking from the north side of town. Ozorio agreed with the parents it was a very busy area and said it would be an issue which would be brought up with the municipality.
Ozorio said the elementary schools are still wrestling with capacity issues even with the Grade 7 and 8 students moving to KDSS.
“That is the overriding problem but we don’t want it to be a problem for the kids, or for the parents,” he said. “We want them to feel well-accommodated and well-educated and that’s why all this emphasis was put on this process.”

Senior school temporary solution to capacity issue at Kincardine elementary schools By Colin Burrowes was last modified: September 3rd, 2019 by Tammy Schneider

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