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Transition FAQs

Here you will find responses to questions regarding the Transition phase of the project, formerly called Phase 2.

We have attempted to sort questions that we believe relate to the construction phase into this Transition category. We require a transition year during construction when all students will need to be out of SCSS.

See our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018.

Thank you to those who have submitted comments and questions. We have read your comments and appreciate knowing your thoughts. If your question is a new one we have not yet answered, we will post a response on this page shortly. 



We are writing to express our concern and disappointment with the lack of safe crossing for students attempting to get to the new Stratford Secondary and Elementary School. We are parents of a Grade 10 and a Grade 7 student at SSES. We took the time to stand at the corner of Forman Ave and Oakdale Ave yesterday, at both arrival and dismissal times, and again this morning to observe the traffic situation. We were quite frankly shocked to see the dangerous and chaotic crossing situation for students attempting to get across Forman to school. There are no indications of a preferred crossing spot and students are crossing at multiple points along Forman, dashing in between moving cars and in front of buses in an attempt to get across. On several occasions we observed well meaning bus drivers stop and wave a student across the road only to create a more dangerous situation when a car in the other lane did not stop. In short, this easily anticipated traffic situation is completely unacceptable from a safety standpoint. We understand that the City will eventually be putting in a cross walk in to help alleviate this problem. However, we were surprised and dismayed that an alternate plan to ensure a safe crossing during the first few weeks of school does not seem to be in place. This easily anticipated problem has created a dangerous situation for a large number of Stratford’s students. Surely it would be reasonable to put interim protections, such as a crossing guard, in place until a formal crosswalk can be completed.

Thank you for your message of concern regarding the traffic and safety situation at SSES. We greatly appreciate your input and concern as parents. We are happy to tell you that as of 1:00 pm today (September 4, 2019), the City of Stratford has agreed to provide a crossing guard at the Forman/Oakdale intersection pending their installation of a pedestrian crossover. We are hopeful that this minimizes the safety concerns that you, many parents, and the staff of SSES and AMDSB share regarding this matter. The transition to the SSES site for all grades 7–12 students will have ongoing implementation “bumps”, and we hope that the transition newsletter provided to families in late August will be helpful as we encourage students, families and community members to follow plans for parking, busing, etc. Your feedback has helped us to improve the situation for the safety and learning of all.

What about students who need accommodation?

We have students with special education needs and students who are at risk, physically, socially or academically, in both SC and SN. These students will need accommodations and additional supports. Students with special education needs and their families will be contacted directly (through letters or telephone calls) by Principal Watts and/or staff in preparation for the Transition year and later, for the Vision year. Many strategies (e.g., group school visits, transportation arrangements and practice, individual visits, school tours, buddy system, timetable setting, parent meetings, school transition meetings, barbecues, etc.) are being arranged to ensure a smooth transition for students with special needs. We value the pathways and needs of all students and we are working diligently on plans of support. Please contact Emma Watts or your school Special Education teacher if you have specific questions.

Why are teachers kept in the dark? Reading Board “Transition Activity Updates” after they are sent home to parents is awkward for teachers and not helpful.

There is no intention to keep teachers in the dark. As everyone can appreciate, there are many activities underway to support the Transition and the Vision and many people involved. We have issued information related specifically to staff, when it is available, through administrators, the Transitions for Staff newsletters, the Transitions for Students and Families newsletters, and the union partners. Staff also are encouraged to read the releases to students and families.

After the May 1 meeting at Stratford Central, I have put in questions about both the vision and transition year but yet to see any responses. How often do you read and respond to them? Will you be holding more of a town hall meeting? The meeting on May 1 seemed more like managing your planned messaged then it was about having an open discussion. Do not assume that you have public confidence when you made it clear that you were not interested in discussion.

We have received 4 questions since the May 1st meeting and are currently working on responses and posting. Generally, it takes about a week to post a response to the questions, although some are posted more quickly. The people who answer the questions are Senior Staff members and the Steering Committee, including the principals of the schools, and it takes time for everyone to provide input when needed. Our Communications staff posts them to us by the following day when received Monday to Friday.

The May 1st meeting was an invitation from the School Councils to present to them at their Joint School Council meeting. We were responding to questions submitted by them, and where time permitted, responses to other questions submitted. May 1st was not intended to be an open discussion; rather, it was a presentation to School Councils and others who chose to attend.

As we shared at the May 1st meeting, a public meeting will be held in the future, but the timing is not confirmed as we are waiting for the release of the PAR guidelines from the Ministry.

Why are you taking away 50% of the opportunities that we have as students to play on sports teams? Both schools have teachers who are willing to coach. With this decision you will have taken away half of the opportunities for students to play sports in your largest urban area. Please don’t suggest an intramural program as an answer. It is not the same as playing on a school team. Please do not suggest that OFSSA makes these decisions and that you do not. If that is really true, why did you not fight for us? I now have less chance to make a team and this was one of the reasons I did not go to St. Mikes.

It is not our desire to hurt students in this decision. While we were making the decision about the school configuration, we most definitely had to consult with OFSSA to ensure that our students would be able to compete. One advantage is that our teams will automatically be able to compete at WOSSA because we will be the only school in our Huron Perth conference at this level of student population. We are hopeful that in addition to a competitive team, there will be a team where students could be called up to play on the competitive team, and this team could compete against other school teams or play in tournaments. Additionally, we do hope that with the large number of students, there could be intramural programs and this would be beneficial to the students who don’t get to compete on school teams. Student voice will be important to both the transition and vision. We encourage students to respectfully suggest what they would like to see in their school and take on leadership opportunities. We believe this coming school year will be exciting and we hope that you are still able to participate in the extra-curricular program at the combined school.

In the Focus Group meeting, we were told that students would graduate from the school they had been attending. It now sounds like all students will have diplomas from Northwestern. Can you please clarify?

While we are managing all student records in one database for the Transition Year next year, we will be honouring the home school for each student and will capture this important information in our records for diplomas, report cards and the Ontario post secondary application process.

For busing/parent drop off, could using Short Street at the back of the school be a traffic friendly option? Maybe just put in some paths into the parking lot?

We are currently working with both the City of Stratford, Police and Fire partners and the Huron Perth Catholic Board regarding traffic, and parking on and around the SERC site for the Transition Year next year. Safety continues to be a priority for us, so we are giving this a lot of careful consideration.

We will share information as soon as it is finalized.

How long will construction take?

The plan is to commence demolition and reconstruction by end of June – early July 2019 and complete all work by September 2020. SC student learning will take place elsewhere during that year.

What does a move of all students from SC for the construction year look like?

AMDSB has been gathering input before making that decision. Having researched other boards, one practice would be to move all staff and students into another school. One of the schools would take an ‘early’ shift and one school a ‘later’ shift, with transportation adjusted accordingly.

NOTE: This decision has been made. Students will be together at SNSS with the use of some satellite spaces. Timing for 2019-2020 has been kept very similar to the existing 2018-19 school year structure.

How will the school’s needs be addressed during this year?

AMDSB anticipates many of the school-based decisions to be worked through during the Transition process at the school level. The school administrators and professional teams in place to help them are highly regarded.

What about extracurriculars? How will they work?

This is a good example of a school-based question that would be addressed in the Transition process. It is possible that space in other facilities will be needed to accommodate gym time and any other extracurricular clubs/teams that might need additional space during the renovations.

How will the school bus transportation change?

AMDSB is reviewing transportation implications as part of the decision for what the Transition Year will look like.

I live on Forman Ave and am concerned about the traffic and parking in front of the school. It is already difficult to get in and out of my lane way before school and especially around dismissal time. Buses park on one side of the road and parents on the other. If you add more traffic to this mess or have this happen twice a day it makes a greater inconvenience for those of us who live near the school.

Parking questions will be answered in the Transition phase (formerly called Phase 2).

How will the existing problem of students’ inability to access the necessary technology for their courses be addressed when two schools are combined?

Computers and other necessary technology from Stratford Central will be moved to Stratford Northwestern for the Transition Year to ensure continuity of program.

My child is anxious about this move and would like to do their schooling online. Is this an option available with AMDSB?

Yes, e-learning through Avon Maitland Distance Education Courses will continue to be offered. This option will be entertained on a case-by-case basis involving school personnel. Both school staffs are committed to providing the best possible learning environment for all of our students.

Has consideration been given to the effect that the late shift will have on our local sporting organizations as they plan teams, on our local economy as businesses plan to hire students and piano teachers, etc. look for clients, and on family life (the majority of parents work during the day and may not see their children during the week), etc.?

Our goal is to minimize the impact on traditional after-school activities.

NOTE: This decision has been made. Students will be together at SNSS with the use of some satellite spaces. Timing for 2019-2020 has been kept very similar to the existing 2018-19 school year structure.

Will my child get to pick the school that they want to attend for grade 7 (2019-2020), or will the borders be enforced?

This question will be better answered after a final decision is made about the 2020 school year and beyond.

It is possible that borders will have to be enforced for grades 7-8 to ensure that the populations are regulated at each building. When students move into grades 9-12, access to programming at both sites will be through concurrent programming which we hope to enhance. No decision has been finalized at this time.

Everyone is together at SNSS for 2019-2020.

Can you consider other options to this split school day option? I think it is very important that the Avon Maitland District School Board looks at the full scope of the actions that it intends to implement and how it will affect all aspects of a student’s life, not just the student’s life while at the school. Skating clubs can’t change their ice times.

A decision on the scheduling of the two schools during the Transition Year has been announced and there will not be a split day. Our goal is to minimize the impact on traditional after-school activities.

How will the existing problem of too few quiet study spaces be addressed when two schools are combined?

Scheduling students from both schools will be addressed during the Transition phase (formerly called Phase 2) (Sept 2018-May 2019) of the project. Students will continue to have access to quiet spaces within SNWSS during the Transition Year. Potential concerns with respect to lack of quiet spaces will be addressed if and when they arise.

Can you guarantee that my child who attends SC will be able to apply for University as an SC student?

SC will continue to operate as a school. Students will be able to apply to post-secondary schools from their respective high schools during the Transition Year.

Has consideration been given to students that may be so frustrated during the transition period that they drop out of school?

We will continue to support all students who struggle in school on a individual basis as we have always done. Our Mental Health Lead and coach were at the Open House on February 5, 2019. They will continue to be part of the planning process for the 2019 school year and beyond.

How will the rivalry between SC and SN be managed during the transition year?

Stratford Central and Stratford Northwestern are working collaboratively to support a positive Transition Year. We anticipate the friendly rivalry will continue.

Is there capacity to share the overflow of Central students during the construction year with another Board high school and busing students to that location?

Many new international students will be bused to an alternate high school as part of the program offered. SC and SN will be together at Stratford Northwestern campus with the use of satellite spaces such as the YMCA.

How will graduation be handled during the transition year?

Graduation ceremonies have been held on separate evenings at the Stratford Festival for both schools. We do not anticipate that this practice will be changing during the Transition Year.

How will traffic flow be impacted with increased city bus, school bus and student/parent traffic at dismissal time?

Thank you for the question. We will address this issue during the Transition phase of the project and we are working with City of Stratford and Police and Fire partners to address the traffic flow.

How will parking of additional vehicles be accommodated at SN?

We are working on these details and the questions will continue to be addressed during this Transition phase of the project.

How will unity and school spirit be fostered?

Thank you for the question, as this is an important aspect of school life for both staffs and students. We have many plans underway and will address this issue in greater detail during the Transition phase.

From which school will transcript marks be coming from if you currently attend SC but will be graduating during the transition year? (Time sensitive issue for anyone planning for a fifth year)

Stratford Central will continue to exist as a school during the Transition year 2019-2020. The students registered at Stratford Central will be using Stratford Northwestern’s facilities during the year of transition. Students registered at Stratford Central will continue to be issued transcripts from the school.

Will AMDSB be compensating those students who work after school to save for their post secondary education?

Our goal is to minimize the impact on traditional after-school activities. This decision has been made. There will not be a split day and school day times closely resemble what exists for the 2018-19 school year.

Will there be extra spaces opened in online courses to accommodate potential lack of space in 4U courses?

Courses run based on student demand. In the past, students have selected online 4U courses for a variety of reasons. These processes will not change during the transition.

In addition, with everyone together at the Northwestern campus, there will be greater selection of courses for students for the 2019-20 school year.

What about Grade 11 and 12 students who are currently in Grade 9 and 10 who have planned their My Blueprint and post-secondary pathway based on current course availability?

Course options and school timetabling will continue as in the past to address My Blueprint plans. With everyone together, there will be greater selection of courses for the 2019-20 school year.

When will you know where students will go in the Transition year?

Thank you for the question. On December 5, 2018 we announced that all students would be together at Stratford Northwestern during the Transition year.

Will there be extra counselors or staff to help with an anticipated increase in stress over this?

Thank you for the question. We will address this issue during the Transition phase (formerly called Phase 2) (Sept 2018-May 2019) of the project. We will gather input about resources that are needed for all our students to ensure that appropriate supports are in place. Our goal is to make this transition a positive experience for all students and their families.

Will students be able to take electives?

Yes students can take electives. There will be a full palette of courses available throughout the transition and in subsequent years.

Will international and ESL students be required to choose locations other than SN during 2019-2020 to ensure room for local students?

Every year the AMDSB makes decisions on the number of international students entering our schools and their location. There are a number of factors that are considered including the number of local families available to host students. The majority of students new to international education in Stratford for the 2019/20 school year will be bused to an alternate location for schooling.

What happens to the children who have attended Grade 7 at Northwestern and are going into Grade 8 during the renovation year, but are from Oxford County?

Current SN students will remain with their peers.

I go to Avon Public school and will be in Grade 7 during the transition year. My sister goes to Stratford Central. Will I be able to go to the same school as my sister when the renovation is complete?

This will depend on the final decisions for secondary programming in the two schools.

What if we put a couple of portables at each elementary school and the kids grades 7-9 go back to their elementary schools for a year? Might be easier to re-house grades 10-12 instead of all grades 7-12 students… Between Mitchell school and Northwestern they may be able to accommodate grades 10-12 easily.

We appreciate your thoughts and will confirm that consideration was given. There is not sufficient space in all K-6 schools so this option is problematic. This could actually further increase student transitions for some students.

Why can’t the board put a bunch of portables up at the old fair grounds? Then if they need technology or gym classes then use the facilities at St. Mikes and SNWSS.

Please note: Students will be together at SNSS with the use of some satellite spaces, including portables and the YMCA.

Will kids that currently attend a K-8 school still have the option to attend SNWSS for Grade 7? or will they be expected to stay at their current school until SC is reopened.

For the 2018-19 school year, SNWSS and SCSS will continue to operate as a grade 7-12 school. A decision regarding the organization of SNWSS (grades) during the 2019-2020 school year will occur during the Transition phase of the project.

Why have no other viable options been mentioned other than the split school day? Seems logical that the board must have formulated more than one practical option before publicly announcing what those options may be?

A decision has been made about timetables. Please see our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018. Multiple options were being considered. We appreciated the feedback we received on thoughtexchange.

When does Phase 2 planning begin?

Planning for Phase 2, now called Transition, began in September 2018.

Has AMDSB considered leaving Grade 7 students at K-6 schools to minimize multiple transitions and free up additional space at SN for Grades 8-12?

Yes, consideration was given. There is not sufficient space in all K-6 schools so this option is problematic. This could actually further increase student transitions for some students.

If there is a change in time and students are expected to be at school later, how is it determined as to which students will potentially have to lose their part time jobs, sports, music, dance etc. Many of these things begin at 4-4:30. Could grade 7 incoming students remain at their feeder school for the year of construction? As well is there possibility to utilize dual classrooms effectively, by dual purposing them? When not in use for one subject, another subject or class could utilize the space.

Please see our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018.

Have you considered an option to have the secondary school students attend classes on alternate days for each school (Mon, Wed, Fri one week – Tues, Thurs the next) then have online (chat) access to the teacher during the period time on the off day for independent study/assignment support? Most students now have access to technology that would accommodate this model and community resources, such as the Stratford Public Library, could likely help fill the gap. This should mean less impact on current concerns such as part-time employment, extracurriculars, etc.

Please see our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018.

What consideration has been given to children transferring at Northwestern for the French Immersion at Bedford. Will transportation still be available for their regular school hours?

If students are eligible for attendance and currently coming to Northwestern on existing buses and transferring to a shuttle to attend French Immersion at Bedford, this process will continue.

Please do not adjust the hours of schooling for the students. It is not feasible to have earlier mornings or later days. What ever is decided keep the school hours normal.

Please see our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018.

If it becomes a split day and students have early/late shifts, how will it be determined which students end up potentially losing out on their after school jobs or extra curricular activities (some which begin at 4-4:30)? Some students rely on these jobs to plan for college/university. For Students who may have worked hard to earn their spot on specific groups (dance, hockey, soccer, baseball etc) to potentially lose that spot due to extended school hours, while another group of peers have the opportunity to still do those things.

Please see our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018.

I have a concern about students who have after school job to help pay for future schooling, and how the schedule will effect this.

Thank you. We hear your concerns.

My son is in a specialized sports program and school scheduling changes during what will be Grade 11 for him, will almost certainly require that he takes some of his courses online. Further to that, he is in French Immersion and the transition year will likely cost him the FI program because he has made being a competitive athlete his chosen priority. I recognize that the lack of flexibility in his schedule is unique but am still concerned that his Grade 11 year will be far less than optimal. Has any thought been given to having some courses offered during the 2 summers of the transition year and the possibility of some teacher interaction available for those who are forced to do online schooling when they normally would not choose to do so?

Yes, we do offer some courses in summer learning and online. Currently, we have e-hub sections in every school to support students in online courses. This format has been extremely successful.

How will you handle the influx of students? Would sending some to St Mike’s be an option?

We are considering all of our options. Please see our Transition Year announcement dated December 5, 2018.

What are the current options being considered for out of town students already enrolled at Stratford Central this year?

They will be housed at SNSS, as announced.

What will happen when we have too many teachers?

We are not clear on this question. We expect to maintain the staff at SNSS and SCSS, subject to enrollment numbers.

The halls are already crowded enough. What happens when they all come next year?

We are looking at timetabling and scheduling to maximize efficiency of student transitions. Many schools in the province have 1500 – 2000 students, so there are models we can learn from.

How will all of the students have lockers?

We anticipate that we will be adding lockers at SNSS so every student will have access to a locker.

What will the timetable look like?

Parents and students made it clear via thoughtexchange that current school day times are preferred over a split day. We honoured those thoughts and have worked out the details to ensure school day times remain similar to current schedules for all students.We

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