The Deloitte Report released last year looked at all aspects of the Mill Village Consolidated school that might need improvement over the next several years if the school stayed open. It also looked at the impact school closure would have on the school board.
Earlier this month, the Mill Village Study Committee submitted their response to the South Shore Regional School Board. Their report is a 37-page document outlining their problems with parts of the Deloitte report and solutions to other parts.
On Feb. 18, the committee were in Hebbville to pitch their case and answer questions the school board had of them.
One of the first issues to come up was the impact on the greater community. They argue the school is used for many events, and is one of the few public locations in Mill Village.
The school is used beyond classroom space, for things like extra-curricular activities, fitness classes and their unique drive in theatre. The report lists dozens of programs the school has held or will hold. There are few other options in the community to hold these events, says Jason Croft, a member of the committee.
"Could they be moved? I can't imagine none of them could be, but most absolutely cannot be," he said.
Transportation times was another major issue brought up by the committee.
In the Deloitte Report, it was stated that closure of the school would add a maximum of about 15 minutes to bussing times. However when the study committee asked for a bussing schedule that shows this, they were told none existed.
The committee argues without more detailed information, the 15-minute maximum not accurate.
When the SSRSB transportation committee and SAC timed the ride from the school to the Wickwire, on dry roads, no traffic and just after noon found to be over 16 minutes.
The implications are that students would be sitting on the bus for more than an hour.
In the presentation to the school board, they added some families at the furthest points live up to 30 minutes away from Liverpool, not the 15 minutes stated in the report.
To cut down on costs, the committee proposed a one bus system. This would cut down on the three that are currently used. It would increase the time that some students are at the school, however it was also proposed to offer programming through the Schools Plus program.
In the report it is estimated the long term costs for keep the school open is $750,000 however they question that figure. There are no sources for the estimates listed in the report. The committee said they don't think the figures are accurate, because they are based on other schools and the opinions of staff.
Addressing the accessibility issue, the committee says it would be cost prohibitive to make the school fully accessible.
The committee felt it unlikely someone would move to the community that has extensive accessibility issues, because little else is accessible in the area. However they came up with an alternative to renovating the entire school if it did happen.
Their suggestion was to put the classrooms on the main floor, while leaving the administration and kitchen on the second floor. An accessible bathroom could be installed, and a ramp leading to the first floor.
The Deloitte report said a lack of specialists available full time could be problematic, however the committee countered by saying at least one student is already receiving daily work by a specialist.
Both the Deloitte Report and the Mill Village Study Committee Report are available online at www.ssrsb.ca
The school board is holding a public hearing on Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mill Village School. The storm date is set for March 5 at the same time.