Trustee David Thompson hopes that a partnership between the Near North District School Board and the City of North Bay is imminent.
At last Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees voted to close Widdifield Secondary School and proceed with a two-school model to serve public intermediate and secondary students within the city’s limits.
Thompson, who is Chair of the Board of Trustees, has made it no secret that he believes amalgamating to one school is the correct choice, including for financial and demographic reasons.
Will the province approve funding to “modernize” two aging high schools? That remains to be seen. What is not changing, says Thompson is the downward trend in population in North Bay. Fewer families equal fewer students. Count Thompson among those on the board who believe that a two-school set up is not a longterm solution.
Opposition from a segment of the population to a “super school” may have changed the minds of some trustees on the issue. Thompson believes that Mayor Al McDonald’s appearances at ARC meetings, as well as a last-minute motion passed at City Council supporting a two-school system, may have also helped turn the tide. He also sees the ploys as “interference in our business from the City.”
Thompson, asked whether he was upset that the super school would not be built, replied, “Not at all. It’s democracy. I’ve voted to close 12 schools in 12 years. Nobody wants to close a school. But the numbers don’t lie.”
According to Thompson, the board has reached out to the City in an attempt to mend fences and move forward in a cooperative manner and they await a reply. Tuesday is the next scheduled City Council meeting.
Thompson adds cryptically that there are opportunities for collaboration with the City of North Bay, particularly in the West Ferris area, that would greatly benefit both groups.