Catholic school closure plan public meeting tonight

Cornwall Catholic trustee Todd Lalonde raises his hand on Tuesday, Oct 4, 2016 to vote for a review of nine Cornwall schools. Facing declining enrollment, the board is looking at closing four schools and consolidating its operations. Also at the table are chairman Brent Laton and Director of Education Bill Gartland. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario will hold its first public meeting tonight (Wednesday) on the future of its schools in the city.

Under the board’s 166-page Pupil Accommodation Review report, four schools are earmarked for possible closure in a bid to maximize funding from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Under the proposal, Immaculate Conception, St. Columban’s and Sacred Heart would close.

Immaculate Conception students would go to Bishop Macdonell while students at the other two schools would be housed in a new JK-6 school on or near the Sacred Heart site.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School would also close and a new St. Joe’s would be built elsewhere, taking existing students plus grade 7 and 8 students from Bishop Macdonell and St. Anne as those two elementary schools are converted to JK-6 facilities.

If it goes ahead, the changes wouldn’t take place until June 2018 through September 2019.

The plan would reduce the number of overall student spaces to 671 in Cornwall and boost overall seat use in the Cornwall family of schools to 97 per cent.

The public meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School at 1500A Cumberland Street in Cornwall.

A final recommendation will come to the Catholic school board on May 2, 2017.

Follow Cornwall Newswatch on Twitter @cwlnewswatch for updates from the meeting.