Friday, May 27, 2022

ALMONTE ONTARIO

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LivingPakenham school escapes chopping block

Pakenham school escapes chopping block

Mayor McLaughlin shared this good-news story, about Pakenham Public School remaining open despite school board recommendations that it be shut down.


One fabulous bit of recent good news has been under-reported. The combined efforts of local residents and your municipal government helped save Pakenham Public School from closure.

Last fall, Pakenham P.S. was one of 29 schools suggested for closure in 2017 by the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) because of poor enrollment. The loss of a community’s only school is often the economic death knell because young families move elsewhere.


As reported by a student in the Millstone, Pakenham P.S. completed a round of major upgrades just last fall.

The Pakenham school council, chaired by Jennifer Downey, began a vigorous campaign to save the school from closure. The staff and Council of Mississippi Mills joined in.

At a crucial UCDSB meeting in November, Diane Smithson, Mississippi Mills CAO, and Pakenham school council member Heather Potts, presented a strong business case to the board. Our UCDSB trustee, Donald Cram, attended that meeting and told me he believed Ms. Smithson’s presentation opened the board’s eyes to the critical role the school played in the community and to students in the region.

In the end, the board decided to close just 12 schools in 2017. One of those saved was Pakenham P.S.

This is a great example of how Council, town staff and residents working together can achieve lasting benefits for our municipality.

Mayor Shaun McLaughlin

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