At the November 24th Board Meeting, the Algoma District School Board (ADSB) approved the move of the Intermediate Division (grade 7 & 8 students) from Central Avenue Public School and Esten Park Public School to the new Elliot Lake Intermediate Program to be housed in the Adult Education Wing at Elliot Lake Secondary School (ELSS) for September 2021.
With approval from the Board, ADSB will now focus on the important process of carefully preparing and implementing a transition plan for grade 7 and 8 students moving from Esten Park and Central Ave public schools. The Board will also look to finalize a new off-site location for the North Shore Adolescent and Adult Education Programs and begin any needed renovations to prepare for a September 2021 opening of the Elliot Lake Intermediate Program at ELSS.
Just over eighty grade 7 and 8 students will make the transition in the fall of 2021 to the new space which will be located in a dedicated wing of ELSS. Currently, Central Avenue Public School is at capacity and Esten Park Public School is full. ELSS has a student population of three hundred grade 9-12 students. There is room at ELSS for both secondary students and intermediate students and there is capacity for growth of both programs in the future.
In February and March of 2020, prior to Covid-19 restrictions, School Councils from both elementary schools met with the Board to begin the conversation about the proposed move of intermediate students to ELSS. With input from the two school councils, Algoma District School Board next sought feedback, throughout November, from stakeholders at the three school communities involved. ADSB facilitated two virtual consultation meetings utilizing the online platform Thought exchange. Parents/guardians, staff, First Nation partners and elementary students in grades 6-8 were invited to participate using the online platform or through written submissions, to ask questions and to share their thoughts around opportunities, challenges and expectations about the relocation of grade 7 and 8 students to the Elliot Lake Intermediate Program at the ELSS site.
There were common themes in the feedback received from parents/guardians during the consultation process. Safety, space and capacity were some of those concerns. A virtual tour of the designated wing helped alleviate many concerns. In addition, ADSB will incorporate the following measures to ensure and support the safety and well-being of our grade 7/8 students in the Intermediate program at the Elliot Lake Secondary School site. The Intermediate Program will have:
• Designated entrance limited to the Intermediate Program
• Separate wing
• Designated Washrooms within the Intermediate Wing
• Designated Intermediate Vice Principal and familiar teaching staff
• Additional Morning Supervision and planned morning bus drop-off
• Separate lunch hour
• Supervised and controlled movement to high school facilities
• Access to counselling services
Special Education Services and programs will continue in the Elliot Lake Intermediate Program such that students with special education needs will have access to designated staff for support such as a SERT (Special Education Resource Teacher), and EAs (Educational Assistant) as requested. The French Immersion program will also be maintained for the 7/8 students in the Elliot Lake Intermediate Program.
One of the main reasons for moving ahead with grade 7/8 Intermediate programs in our secondary school sites is to allow for opportunities to enhance educational programs for grade 7/8 students as they make the transition to high school, such as:
• Reach Ahead opportunities, taking a grade 9 course while in grade 8
• X-Block – scheduled time each week, with entire class (students & teacher) working with a specialized secondary teacher in a specialized learning space (e.g. Tech, Music)
• Access Spaces – with elementary teacher, teaching for instance in a science lab
• Collaboration – elementary teachers working with secondary teachers
• Supported Transition to High School – teacher to teacher dialogue, student opportunities within the building, course option support and so on.
Currently, Elliot Lake is the last remaining community whose school is not either Grade 7-12 (as in Sault Ste Marie and Central Algoma), Kindergarten-12 (as in Chapleau and Hornepayne), or slated to become a Kindergarten-12 (as in Wawa and Blind River once funding/construction is finalized). Central Ave P.S. and Esten Park P.S. will become JK-6 schools as of September 2021. There will be continued opportunities for dialogue and feedback from school communities as planning moves forward.