The chair of the Near North District School Board says keeping Widdifield Secondary School open is not an option. Dave Thompson was responding to a group of Widdifield students and parents demanding that trustees not close Widdifield Secondary School next year in June. After the school closes, the students will be sent to one of the two remaining high schools; Chippewa and West Ferris. The group appeared at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday.
Dave Thompson says projections show the current student population of 800 at the high school will be cut almost in half in several years. Thompson says it makes no sense to keep pouring money into Widdifield in this scenario. He says the board has a fiscal and programming responsibility to all its schools and adds there’s already a shortage of programs. He says parents continually complain to him that their kids don’t have a choice with some programs. Thompson says it’s because there aren’t enough students at one site to warrant specific courses and he adds keeping Widdifield open makes that scenario worse.
Thompson says the issue to close Widdifield is very emotional for some and says it’s not easy to close any school but trustees need to look at the big picture. Thompson says the bottom line is there’s simply not enough money to put into Widdifield to keep it open and provide programming based on the current education funding formula. He adds when he’s talked to people about this one-on-one they have a better understanding of the situation the board faces.