Conseil scolaire catholique Providence school boundary option 2. (Photo via Conseil scolaire catholique Providence)Conseil scolaire catholique Providence school boundary option 2. (Photo via Conseil scolaire catholique Providence)

French Catholic School Board considering school boundary changes

Five French Catholic schools in Chatham-Kent are under a boundary review by Conseil scolaire catholique Providence to improve student catchment areas and transportation routes and address flat student enrollment.

École élémentaire catholique Saint-Francis in Tilbury, École élémentaire catholique Saint-Philippe in Grande Pointe, École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Catherine in Pain Court, École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Marie in Chatham, and École secondaire catholique de Pain Court are all part of the review to better align programs and areas to use schools more effectively long-term, and address parental concerns about unnecessary transportation and program delivery, according to the School Board.

The Board noted parents at École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Marie have voiced concerns several times in the past about about their children coming from Sainte-Marie in Chatham and having to transition to a new school twice; once, to Sainte-Catherine in in Pain Court for Grades 7-8, and a second time to École secondaire de Pain Court in Grade 9.

"The intention of the Boundary Review is to study existing schools’ attendance areas (boundaries) based on current school programming, student utilization, transportation services and future student enrollment projections," the Board wrote in a letter to parents on Tuesday after approving the review at the Board meeting Monday night. "The review will also address community concerns relating to existing program and school boundaries."

A demographic and enrollment projection study commissioned by the French Catholic Board indicated no growth or low growth over the next 10 years. The findings in the report showed no projected growth or a decline until 2032 and an overall under-utilization of approximately 262 students for the 10-year study period.

The consultant concluded that elementary school enrollment has declined since 2015 following historical enrollment growth from 2005-2015. The report also showed that the 10 year forecast examined demographic data from several sources and concluded that any housing growth will have minimal impacts on the enrollment at the schools in the study.

School Board trustees have four boundary options to ponder and administration is recommending Option 2 for the boundary changes. Under Boundary Option 2 all Grade 7 and 8 students from École élémentaire catholique Saint Francis, École élémentaire catholique Saint Phillipe, and École élémentaire catholique Sainte Catherine would be relocated to École Secondaire Catholique de Pain Court for September 2023. École Secondaire Catholique de Pain Court enrollment would grow to 517 students and require eight additional portable classrooms on site to accommodate the Grade 7 and 8 students in 2023.

The existing École élémentaire catholique Sainte Marie boundary would be expanded to include the area north of Highway 401 and east of Chatham for grades Maternelle 6. The area currently attends École élémentaire catholique Sainte Catherine for grades Maternelle 8. The expanded boundary impacts approximately 20 students. The boundaries for École élémentaire catholique Saint Francis and École élémentaire catholique Saint Phillipe would remain unchanged except for the relocation of the Grade 7 and 8 students.

Option 2 would save the Board almost $100 a year for each student in transportation costs. The annual per student cost would be reduced from $1,920 to $1,846. The average ride time would be slightly decreased for École élémentaire catholique Sainte Catherine. The other boundary options also feature the relocation of Grade 7 and 8 students to École Secondaire Catholique de Pain Court for September 2023 with other alterations.

For more information about boundary options and other data click here.

The Chatham-Kent Boundary Review is expected to be completed by early this spring and the Final Report is anticipated to go before the Board of Trustees in April.

Community consultations will take place January 31, 2023 and February 7, 2023 at École secondaire catholique de Pain Court from 7-9 p.m. each of the nights. A virtual community consultation will be held February 15, 2023 between 7 and 8 p.m.

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