On February 16, 2017, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustees voted 7 to 5 in Committee of the Whole to close Rideau High School and redirect students in its catchment to Gloucester High School as of next September. A final vote will be held during the Board meeting on March 7, 2017.
You can make your views known about the recommendation by e-mailing the trustees before March 7.
I have said before in this space that I believe that it is in the best interests of students and the community to keep Rideau HS open, What follows is a vision of what can happen at Rideau if at least five other trustees join me in voting to keep it open on March 7.
March 2017 to June 2017
Starting from an option developed by Trustee Shawn Menard, OCDSB staff and the community focus on increasing enrolment at Rideau HS through an array of measures:
- introduce French Immersion into Rideau HS, the only OCDSB high school not to offer this option;
- bring the Urban Aboriginal HS to Rideau HS to take advantage of location, the opportunity for students to transition from one program to the other and the strong FNMI culture and understanding already growing at Rideau;
- the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre's Youth Strategy committee connects with the administration at Rideau to work out how to support each other in the common goal of supporting at risk students;
- the Vanier, Manor Park and Overbrook Community Associations and the school and District staff start a working group to identify why students and/or parents in some areas of Rideau's catchment are not choosing Rideau HS and what can be done to address those concerns.
Examples of what can be done include:
- hold sporting/arts/multicultural events at Rideau for the elementary schools feeding into Rideau;
- introduce more indigenous programming in conjunction with the FNMI community and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
- explore indigenous, multicultural and social justice equivalents of Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Programs (open to students from other schools);
- engage with parents at Manor Park, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and R.E. Wilson Public Schools to understand what those parents are expecting in a high school;
- fund a coordinators staff position for outreach and communications, as is done for specialty programs like the Arts and International Baccaulaureate;
- pursue student support initiatives such as Students Will All Graduate (SWAG) and/or Pathways to Education.
2017-18 school year
- Rideau HS hosts Inuit games. Manor Park, Queen Elizabeth, R.E. Wilson, Rockcliffe Park and Queen Mary students participate. It's so successful other schools ask to be included next year. District staff put together physical activity curriculum highlighting Inuit games in preparation for this event to be used by any school in the board;.
- The board recognizes that Rideau HS will have a specialty focus on indigenous and multicultural studies;
- The board undertakes anti-racism pilot initiatives at Rideau;
- Ongoing focus groups with parents and community indicate that supports and enhancements for the grade 7&8 school in the area are needed to retain students at that level.
2021-22 school year
Rideau HS enrolment has levelled off at 700 to 750, which meets the needs of students, especially when another 50 to 75 students come for a semester to take the specialty FNMI and social justice courses offered at Rideau. Rideau is recognized provincially and internationally for advancing the success of FNMI, newcomer and low income students. It is also studied for how it meets the challenge of serving the lowest income neighbourhood and the highest income neighbourhood.