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New Rockwood school opening may be delayed

The Upper Grand District School Board has finished its review of school boundaries in Rockwood, but there are worries that a new public school in the village might not be completed in time.
Construction of the new 308-pupil elementary school on MacLennan Street couldn’t get started until November, after a lengthy process of acquiring the site and getting necessary permits and approvals, said a board news release.
The late start, “complicated by severe winter weather,” has led the board to create a contingency plan for if the building isn’t ready for the first day of school in September, the release said.
“If it is necessary to hold the school in temporary accommodations, we will make every effort to create a productive and comfortable learning environment, and minimize any disruption,” board superintendent Bonnie Talbot said in the release.
Under the contingency plan, students enrolled in the new school would be temporarily located at Rockwood Centennial, using some rooms inside the school building as well as two additional portables.
Rockwood Centennial is currently the only public school in Rockwood, and its boundaries will be affected by the opening of the new school on MacLennan Street.
The boundary review’s third and final report – which can be viewed on the school board’s website at www.ugdsb.on.ca/rbr – has two key recommendations:
• that the new school be a dual-track school, teaching both regular-track and French immersion students in junior kindergarten to Grade 5. All of its students would move to Rockwood Centennial for grades 6 to 8.
• that Rockwood Centennial teach JK-8 regular-track students as well as French immersion students in Grades 6 to 8.
A set of maps attached to the final report show the proposed attendance areas, the release said. The attendance area for regular-track students at the new school would be the residential streets in the south end of Rockwood, south of Harris Street.
The board plans to launch a new French immersion program in Rockwood in September for junior and seniors kindergarten and Grade 1 students. This FI program will add one grade each year.
Looking far ahead, the report recommends that FI students in Rockwood graduate to John F. Ross Collegiate. But the report notes that it will be 2022 before the first students graduate into Grade 9. “In the intervening years the board may conduct a review of secondary accommodation.”
The final boundary report, whose recommendations were endorsed Tuesday by a board committee, will go to the school board’s Jan. 28 meeting for final approval.
The board has appointed Carrie Conrad as principal of the new school, effective in September. She is currently the principal of Brisbane school, a JK-6 dual-track school.

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