News Local

School board looking to build on community partnerships

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

The Simcoe County District School Board is reaching out to potential partners in an effort to strengthen its relationships with communities, reduce costs and maximize the use of infrastructure.

IAN MCINROY FILE PHOTO

The Simcoe County District School Board is reaching out to potential partners in an effort to strengthen its relationships with communities, reduce costs and maximize the use of infrastructure. IAN MCINROY FILE PHOTO

Partnering between Simcoe County District School Board schools and their communities is a win-win, say board officials.

The board is reaching out to potential partners in an effort to strengthen its relationships with communities, reduce costs and maximize the use of infrastructure.

While the board already has plenty of partnerships in place, it wants to keep the momentum going with its new schools, according to superintendent of facility services John Dance.

"Our schools are the hubs of communities," he said. "They are critical to what communities are and in Simcoe County they always have been, and we continue to try to promote that."

He cites the renovations planned for Elmvale District High School (EDHS) as one example.

"EDHS is a great partnership for us because it's a shared need with regards to the community," he said. "Our school there never had a full-sized gym. Now it's getting a shared-use full-sized gym and a fitness facility, a community kitchen and a place for theatre to take place which the community doesn't have."

Springwater Township committed $500,000 over 10 years to the $9.5 million project and a committee spearheaded by local resident George Allens has raised more than $200,000.

"The capital contribution of Springwater Township certainly helps with that. In addition we had great fundraising from the community as well for the bits and pieces you need inside a school, which is great, whether it's bleachers, scoreboards and things like that," Dance said. "It's been a great opportunity for a community to connect with its high school."

Another example is Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Angus with its satellite OPP station and library, which is available to the public, he added.

"One of the neatest things about that partnership is the campus field. It shares the same property as the nearby arena," he said. "It's become the centre of the community in a lot of ways."

When the new south Barrie high school is built, other partnerships could be created, Dance said.

"It will have lots of facilities that people will want to use, including the first artificial tracks at one of our schools," he said. "When you think of the amount of community use that takes place in our schools, that is a form of a partnership too."

Potential partnerships in future schools are part of the board's future capital plan, he added.

Those include a new Bradford elementary school, a replacement school for Banting Memorial High School, additions and renovations to Stayner Collegiate Institute and Clearview Meadows Elementary School, a new Alcona school in Innisfil and a new Wasaga Beach elementary school.

"We try to look at partnerships for every one of our new capital priorities," he said. "That's a critical part of how we move forward because we know we have partners in child care, in some cases, but the Ministry of Education is now the provider for that.

"But if there are other opportunities to partner with the community that needs it, we're open to it," he added. "The main thing is to be on the ground floor and get it going early."

To learn more, email Dance at jdance@scdsb.on.ca.

imcinroy@postmedia.com