Province receives petition

KCVI students and parents seeks signatures to convince government to keep the school as is

Kingston Collegiate and Vocation Institution, located near Queen's main campus.
Kingston Collegiate and Vocation Institution, located near Queen's main campus.

Plans to close Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institution (KCVI) have received backlash in the form of a petition launched last Friday.

The Save Kingston City Schools Coalition (SKCS) gave a legislative petition containing 2,385 signatures to Kingston and the Islands NDP candidate Mary Rita Holland.

Holland will present the petition to the provincial government at Queen’s Park.

The purpose of the petition is to convince the provincial government to reject the Limestone District School Board’s request for funding the amalgamation of two city schools, KCVI and Queen Elizabeth Collegiate and Vocational Institute (QECVI), into one larger school.

SKCS hopes to convince the provincial government of option B, which would be to keep all three schools — KCVI, QECVI and Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute — open.

Last June, school board trustees passed the decision to amalgamate KCVI and QECVI.

SKCS began petitioning for signatures in the fall, Christine Sypnowich, a member of the group, said.

Sypnowich, a philosophy professor at Queen’s, said since KCVI is a heritage site and part of downtown’s vitality, it should remain open.

“[Kingston’s] lively downtown is fragile and if downtown schools are closed, the city will suffer,” she said.

Sypnowich said that students learn better in a smaller school as opposed to one with a larger population.

“Building an enormous school that has kids from all over, to one location is bad environmentally … and removes the idea that a school is anchored in the community,” she said.

KCVI’s rich history in Kingston and its reputation for high academic achievement, makes the school a vital part of the city, she said.

KCVI has existed since 1792 and boasts famous Canadian alumni such as Sir John. A Macdonald.

Closeness to Queen’s also makes the school unique, Sypnowich added.

“KCVI has really benefited from a proximity to Queen’s. There’s a lot of sharing of space and resources,” she said. “Having a university right on your doorstep inspires high school students.”

Despite SKCS’s protests of the school closure, organizations such as the Kingscourt Community Association have supported the school board’s primary decision of creating a new high school.

The group issued a report in March 2013, stating that students in the north end of Kingston come from families that have incomes 22 per cent lower than the city’s average. One in four households has an income lower than $20,000 per year.

Laurie French, board chair of the Limestone District School Board, said the decision to create a new high school came from the aim to provide proper schooling for all students.

“This is about the best result for all students,” she said. “In the current three-school option, there are not sufficient students to be able to offer all streams of programming.”

“The decision the Board made … provides for more robust enrolment numbers to be able to provide the full program,” French said.

She said keeping all three schools open would disadvantage others in the community.

“We understand that there are some that are not happy by the decision, but at the same time we have to look at all neighbourhoods, not just one,” French said.

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