A history that stretches back more than two centuries will come to an end next year as Pelham Centre School in Fenwick is set to close its doors in June of 2017. The decision was handed down February 19th.
The District School Board of Niagara’s Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP) identifies schools that face issues due to enrollment and underpopulated facilities. According to a report made to the Board of Trustees in late January, “E.W. Farr Memorial PS and Pelham Centre PS were identified as schools where an opportunity exists to create a K – 8 structure.”
Currently, E.W. Farr Memorial School takes children kindergarten to grade 3, and Pelham Centre takes kids from grade 4 to grade 8.
While DSBN staff had considered consolidating kids at the Pelham Centre facility, it was ultimately decided that E.W. Farr would be a better choice, in part due to its location in the Fenwick urban area which puts it in closer proximity to more families.
The report to Trustees further stated that “The DSBN believes it is in the best interest of students to maintain school populations that support a diverse learning environment and provide a range of opportunities in programming, extracurricular activities, and services. At the same time, the Board must address the impacts and costs of declining enrolment, excess space at schools, and aging facilities. Consolidating the students into one school is the best option for both school communities and allows the Board to maximize resources.”
The Board estimates a total net savings of $170,000 a year as a result of the merger.
Before it can accommodate the extra students from Pelham Centre, E.W. Farr will need to undergo a series of renovations and additions. These will require a capital investment of between $5.5- 6.5 million. E.W. Farr students will be sent to Pelham Centre for the 2016-2017 school year while this work is completed, at which point it is planned that all students will begin the 2018 school year at the upgraded E.W. Farr facility.
There is not yet any word on whether E.W. Farr will keep its current name, of if the DSBN has something else in store for the upgraded building.