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Victory school plan short-sighted

I  am writing to express my concerns with the recently released plan by the Upper Grand District School Board with regards to Victory Public School (Tribune, Oct. 16).
As a parent of two Victory school students and a member of the Exhibition Park community, I am intimately aware of the importance of Victory as a pillar of the community; a walkable, community school with an excellent track record of serving the educational needs of children in grades JK-6, all in the heart of a growing and diversifying downtown.
Victory’s strength is community; that which it fosters within its walls by welcoming students in English and French Immersion programs, and that which it facilitates through the school’s connections to its immediate neighbourhood and the city.
From a school and community development perspective, both scenarios presented by the board are problematic and shortsighted. I won’t go into details, feeling confident that members from the Victory community will voice their concerns.
Importantly, the timelines for public input and decision-making on this issue are ridiculously short, which is in sharp contrast previous boundary reviews, which lasted several months. Recognizing the growing population and space constraints, there are a number of other viable scenarios, including this one: Victory needs to grow. The newer section of the school has a flat roof. A second floor could be added to the facility. By my calculations, this would build classroom space to accommodate 120-150 more students. At the same time, the school facility does not currently meet legal regulations as set out by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, coming into law over the next two years. Fortunately, there is adequate space available in the playground to accommodate the addition of an elevator.
Not discounting the effort and costs associated with renovation, these structural changes would adequately meet the current and future needs of Victory, the board, the entire Exhibition Park community and the City of Guelph.
I urge the board to lengthen the timelines for public input on this issue, and recognize the many issues with the current proposed scenarios, welcoming the opportunity to build effective, inclusive, long-term solutions.
Kyle Mackie   Guelph

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