Overcrowding and safety issues at local schools have Newcastle parents concerned for their kids

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Published February 7, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Newcastle Public School

Overcrowding at Newcastle Public School and safety concerns for area kids attending a senior public and a high school located directly off Hwy 35/115 has parents concerned.

The parents are also frustrated with the Ontario government after the Education Ministry turned down a request from the Kawartha Pine Ridge School Board to build a new school in the village on land already owned by the board.

Local residents and parents have started an online petition to get the Ford government to approve the new school and have come out in force at several public meetings, including one January 17 at Clarke High School where they expressed their complaints about overcrowding, busing and safety issues surrounding children – including some with special needs – who are attending school right besides a busy highway.

“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 Education Minister Stephen 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.”

 

The only entrance/exit for Clarke HS and The Pines PS is from Hwy 35/115

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has stated they have re-submitted the Capital Priorities funding Request to the province to get a new school built.

In the meantime, Newcastle will continue to house students from kindergarten to Grade 5 for the 2023-24 school year while The Pines will remain a middle school with Grades 6, 7 and 8 in attendance. Clarke High School, which was built in 1962, will also stay open next year.

For the 2024-25 school year and until the new school is built, Newcastle PS will switch to JK to Grade 5 and The Pines will take kids in Grades 5 through 8, with students in the two senior years attending classes at the high school on a temporary basis.

Balfour called the moves a “band-aid solution” to a “ridiculous, ongoing” situation.

“Newcastle Public School is overcrowded and that’s with many families already sending their children from our neighbourhood into Bowmanville for their schooling instead. This is a band-aid solution that seems to have been carried over and slightly adjusted for numerous years already,” he said. “The amount of development occurring in Newcastle, primarily large family homes, is booming and there seems to be a lack of foresight and planning happening with Clarington, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Ministry of Education in this case.”

The Pines Senior Public School was built in 1975 while Newcastle Public opened in 1996, replacing the original school built in 1910.

“Parents of Newcastle want to know what the real plan is for moving forward and when we can realistically expect a new school.”

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