Half Moon Bay JK-5 Students Will Be Bussed To Bells Corners From Sept. 2023 Until New School Opening
A frustrated parent has started an online petition in hopes that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board will look at options other than bussing elementary school students from Barrhaven’s Half Moon Bay community to Bells Corners.
Fadi Mankal started the petition and it has been receiving support from families affected by the decision. Half Moon Bay Public School is beyond capacity, and the opening of the new elementary school in Half Moon Bay has been delayed until January, 2024.
“After much discussion with fellow parents in person and online, it has become clearly apparent that the proposed changes for the upcoming school year are causing a great deal of difficulty, stress, and frustration for most parent affected by this,” wrote Makal. “Some of the issue being raised are the disruption to our kids education and post school lives, the start and end times, the EDP scenarios, the length of time away from home for kids, the logistics and impact on parents employment, separation of siblings as well as several other concerns.”
Mankal emphasized that the parents have had little to no input in the process.
“Further exacerbating the issue is parents are to trust this is only for three to four months on a project that has been delayed twice already,” he wrote. “Given the turmoil and disruption of school over the last two years this is a lot to ask of kids and families. Yes, a meeting was held in the fall where some information was shared but no proper consultation with parents was done where we could raise our concerns on how much of an impact this will be and explore more local or reasonable options. We ask to have our voice heard by all stakeholder in this matter in a town hall style meeting whether in person or virtual.”
Capital funding for the school was initially announced in July 2020. A release from the OCDSB said the board “has been working diligently with our architects, partners at the City of Ottawa and Ontario Ministry of Education to secure all of the necessary approvals in order to proceed with this project.”
In June 2021, the OCDSB approved the attendance boundary, grade and program offering for the new school, which is being referred to as Half Moon Bay Elementary School #2 until it is officially named. The school was tentatively scheduled to open for September, 2022.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on the scheduling, causing the school board to announce a new timeline.
“Given current construction timelines, and limitations of the supply chain of critical construction materials, the new elementary school is now scheduled to open the new elementary school is scheduled to open in January 2024,” the OCDSB announcement said.
From September, 2023 until the opening of the new school in January, 2024, students who were directed to the new school by means of the boundary study will be attending D.A. Moodie Intermediate School. More than 600 students from JK to Grade 5 will be bussed about 12 kilometres to the school. Moodie has been retrofitted and most recently accommodated students from the Shingwakons Public School in Stittsville until it was ready. Moodie was also used by the city as a COVID-19 testing facility in 2020-21.
“We don’t like that people are frustrated but our hands are tied and there are simply no other options,” said OCDSB Barrhaven-Knoxdale-Merivale Trustee Donna Blackburn in an interview with CTV Ottawa’s Tyler Fleming. “The property backs on to NCC land, which has trails and the [previous] students totally enjoyed being out on the trails and experiencing nature, something they wouldn’t be able to do at the home school.
“We know now that we need a new high school in Barrhaven,” says Blackburn. “So I would really encourage people to reach out to members of provincial government to let their voice be heard and get the funding before we get to a crisis situation, because people need to know that a high school takes a lot longer to get built than an elementary school.”
As Mankal’s petition is gaining traction, many people signing the petition are adding comments.
“Absolutely ridiculous to move a boundary before the school is even built,” says Kyle Robillard. “We moved out here so my kids could go to school in Barrhaven, not in Bells Corners. I don’t want my four-year-old bussing 45 minutes each way.”
Kimberly Nonnweiler is the mother of a special needs child who is on medication.
“Not only does this mess with her schedule and routine which is important for her, it messes up her dose times for medication, and it will be impossible for us to change work hours. The long bus ride will be horrible for my kid with her mental health issues. They didn’t take into account any of this when making the decision, even though we were told at the beginning of the year no you wont be moved and we’ll grandfather you in.”
Nadira (no last name given) brought up issues of safety regarding the plan.
“How can they expect our kids to be such a long bus ride with no car seats or seat belt? This has caused an extreme level of stress and panic in our house. I drove by the new school, and there is no way we will be opening on time. And most of all having immune comprised children, I do not at all feel safe for my children to attend an institution that is extremely old and has been shut down for a Covid centre. Our kids’ health and safety should be top priority.”
Veronica Proulx commented that the plan will have a major financial impact on her family that could result in them losing their home.
“We are devastated by these changes and do not see how these will be possible for our family… We did not sign up for this when moving to this neighbourhood. We are so sad and disheartened that due to poor planning, the board of education is leaving families to flounder in these new changes with no care as to how we will be affected.”
Mankal’s petition can be found online at https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/halfmoon-bay-ps-2.
Featured Image – D. Aubrey Moodie Middle School, which was used as a COVID-19 Centre in 2020-21, has been retrofitted and will house JK-5 students from Half Moon Bay who are waiting for their new elementary school to be built.