“We will be back” public board reassures Brooke parents

Brooke Central School

Plan to use LCCVI for Grades 7 & 8s panned by parents, reconsidered by board

“We’re coming back.”

That from Lambton-Kent District School Board’s director of education to worried parents whose children attend Brooke Central School.

They’re learning online until Nov. 29 and will move to other schools while the roof of the building is being fixed.

The Lambton-Kent District School Board is meeting with parents at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre Monday evening to explain how they found the roof might collapse under the weight of more than 12 inches of snow and where the students will be going.

But Director of Education, John Howitt, also reassured the school community that this was not the end of the school. Rumours had been circulating that this might be the board’s way to close the rural school.

“We are coming back, I don’t know when, but we are coming back,” says Howitt.

The board planned to to bus kindergarten to Grade 5 students to Lambton Centennial where there are empty classrooms. Students in French Immersion from K-6 would go to East Lambton Elementary and all other Grade 7 and 8 students would be using the now vacant third floor of LCCVI until the repairs were complete.

Students will still go to their regular bus stop however the time of pickup may be different as may the bus. People whose children use Early Years Childcare after school will be bussed back to the daycare centre daily.

The plans didn’t sit well with many of the parents at Monday’s pubic meeting. They were particularly concerned about sending the Grade 7 and 8 students to LCCVI.

“These are the last years of elementary school and you’re taking it from them,” said one parent at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre Monday night after Howitt suggested they would be going to LCCVI after elementary school and it would give them a better understanding of the experience.

“It’s not an experience want for our kids,” she added.

Other parents were concerned by separating the older and younger students, siblings would not be able to help their younger brothers and sisters get on and off the bus or stay with them after school.

Since the engineer’s report was only on the older part of the school building, several parents suggested the Grade 6, 7, & 8’s remain at Brooke Central and use the newer part of the building.

Howitt told the families the board would consider alternatives to the high school plans.

Aside from the concerns of moving elementary students to the high school, a number of parents questioned why the board only took the word of their consultants before upending the school year again at Brooke Central. Howitt told the parents they would consider getting another opinion but he was concerned that could delay the needed repairs.

Wellington Builders has already been hired to complete the work. They will get a close look at the building once everything is moved out. Howitt says the availability of steel may play into how long the construction takes but he hopes it can be complete in early 2023.

Right now, the board is working on moving the entire school, packing up everything from books, to desks, to computers. Howitt said board staff are filling 500 boxes now and another 1,500 are coming Tuesday.

Howitt says there will be a weekly update for students so they know exactly what is going on and how the construction is progressing.