At the beginning of this school year, the Minden Ontario Early Years Centre, long located at the Sears building along Bobcaygeon Road, was relocated into Archie Stouffer Elementary School.
That relocation was celebrated with a ceremony of the cake- and ribbon-cutting kind earlier this week.
The decision to relocate the centre was made for numerous reasons – finances were a consideration – however, its new home is quite a logical one.
It just makes sense to have a childcare service located in the local public school.
As the OEYC’s executive director pointed out, the children attending the centre are likely to become students of ASES, so having the centre located at the school allows for early familiarization with the surroundings. And while they may not realize it right now, they are likely also meeting some of their future classmates.
It’s also good news for the school itself. After years and years of declining student populations (they have started to rebound a bit in some areas now), many schools such as ASES are far below their capacity, housing hundreds fewer students than they are capable of. This means unused spaces. Empty rooms.
Too many empty rooms makes it difficult for school boards to justify the continued operation of some buildings.
Within the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, for example, an accommodation review has suggested that at the end of the 2017-18 school year, Lady Eaton Elementary School in Omemee be closed with pupils transferred to another nearby school, and diddo for Honey Harbour Public School, effective at the end of this school year.
The relocation of the OEYC in Minden to ASES (and the relocation of the Haliburton centre to J.D. Hodgson Elementary School) generates some revenue for the school board and reinforces the need for the buildings.
Turning schools into community hubs is mutually beneficial, for the organizations using the space, as well as the schools themselves.
Some of this sort of activity already takes place at ASES with after-school recreation programs, etc., but there’s a whole host of arts, sports and community-oriented activites that could also take place at the school.
There were three members of the Minden Hills council at the OEYC ceremony this week and Reeve Brent Devolin has spoken in the past about the concept of school buildings as community hubs.
Hopefully the relocation of the OEYC into the building is just the first of many partnerships to come, partnerships that could enrich the community at large, while ensuring the school always remains viable.