by Chris Pickup

A few short weeks after voting last fall to look into boundary changes to relieve enrolment pressure on McKinnon Park Secondary School, the Grand Erie School Board conceded boundary changes will not be enough.

Therefore in November trustees approved the striking of an Ad Hoc committee to discuss the issue and develop shared solutions. Representatives of Senior Administration, Trustees, support staff and representatives of Six Nations of the Grand River will make up its composition.

It will comprise 16 members: the director of education, native trustee, one trustee appointed by the Board, superintendent of education – secondary program, Native advisor, one  representative from Six Nations elected council education committee, one from Six Nations Confederacy council, Principals of McKinnon Park Secondary and Hagersville Secondary, two Six Nations principals and a maximum of five parents – one from each Six Nations elementary school.

Meetings will take place monthly, in February, March, April and May, with a final report to be presented to the Grand Erie Board of trustees on June 11.

There is no doubt the school population in the Caledonia area has outgrown the school, with potential new students from the McClung Road development, plus the ever larger cohort of students graduating from Six Nations elementary schools.

The elephant in the room is Cayuga Secondary which is sitting half empty just down the road, and the provincial rules that mandate accommodation in all four Haldimand secondary schools must be maximized before new schools can be funded.

Back in the day before the MPSS was built, Six Nations and Caledonia  elementary students could express a preference between Caledonia High or Cayuga for their secondary education, a choice made easier because Cayuga offered technical and practical programs Caledonia did not have the space to  accommodate.

When Caledonia High became overpopulated to the extent students were having to eat and study in the hallways, the province gave funding to construct MPSS but tailored only to the short-term student population rather than the longer term forecast.

However, with the new school came new programming, and Six Nations and Caledonia students who had elected to attend Cayuga, found their needs met closer to home. This committee now has to find an answer to the dilemma.