Education Minister invited to see overcrowding, school safety issues for himself in Newcastle

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Published February 8, 2023 at 1:07 pm

Safety concerns at The Pines Senior Public School in north Clarington, located directly off a busy highway, has Newcastle-area parents concerned and the local MPP calling on Education Minister Stephen Lecce to visit the school and see the problem for himself.

Parents and officials with the Kawartha Pine Ridge School Board would like to see The Pines, which was built in 1975, and the adjacent 61 year-old Clarke High School torn down and a new school built in fast-growing Newcastle.

The board had an application for a new school to alleviate overcrowding at Newcastle Public School turned down last year – the board has re-applied – and have been forced to start sending their senior students to The Pines a year early starting in the 2024-25 school year.

Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini called the situation “untenable” and has invited Lecce to tour the site and meet with board officials.

“The status quo does not work at Clarke High School and the Pines Senior Public School. I have heard from many parents and appreciate their advocacy. That is why I invited Minister Lecce down for a tour of the site and a productive meeting with the Board,” said Piccini, who thanked the parents who voiced their concerns. “Your voice matters and helps humanize our story.”

Newcastle Public School will continue to house students from kindergarten to Grade 5 next year but The Pines Senior Public School will start taking kids Grades 5 through 8 the following year, with students in the two senior years attending classes at the high school on a temporary basis.

Local residents and parents have started an online petition to get the new school built, citing overcrowding, busing and safety issues surrounding children – including some with special needs – who are attending school right besides a highway 35/115.

“The fact that there are two schools, a senior public school and a high school located directly off Highway 115, with no other way to access the property other than being driven in, is ludicrous,” Newcastle resident and parent William Balfour said in a letter to Lecce. “It gets even more mind-boggling that the latest solution is to bus even younger children to the senior public school due to the overcrowding happening at Newcastle Public School.”

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