Frequently Asked Questions
What are Development Areas (DA's)?
Simply put, a Development Area is a geographically distinct area designated by the Board to be removed from all school Attendance Areas. Students from these areas are assigned “temporary” accommodation at “holding schools” that have spaces available.
The Development Area concept arises directly out of the pattern of residential development in most urban centres. Typically, as a city or town expands the bulk of the housing growth is concentrated in one or two outlying districts.
When this growth pattern is maintained at a high rate for extended periods of time, schools serving these areas can become severely overcrowded. A number of School Boards in Southern Ontario, including those in Peel, Durham and Halton regions, have used some variation of the Development Area concept to provide greater flexibility in responding to this challenge.
These school assignments are reviewed by the Board every year to determine if they are still appropriate. In some cases, students from these Development Areas may continue to be assigned temporary accommodation until a new school is built in the community. In other cases, it may be more feasible to eventually incorporate all or a portion of a Development Area into an existing school’s Attendance Area. Until one of these two situations is realized, the Board will strive to keep the same holding school assigned to a particular Development Area for as long as possible.
The Board now requires developers to assist in communicating the Development Area concept to prospective buyers. Developers must provide signs at the entrances to their subdivisions advising of the potential for the busing of students. In addition the Board requires that an advisory clause be included in all “Offers of Purchase and Sale” to inform buyers in Development Areas of the temporary nature of school accommodation.
What are development charges?
Education development charges are used to fund the acquisition of school sites, and related costs to accommodate growth-related student needs. Click here for pamphlets and by-laws.
Why do school attendance areas change?
School Attendance Areas, which can be defined as the core area that a school is designated to serve on a long-term basis, need to be adjusted periodically to better utilize limited school spaces. According to Board Policy, the boundaries of school attendance Areas can be modified, with the assistance of public input and review, for a number of reasons.
First, school Attendance Areas are in a constant state of evolution because of the aging of populations, changing preferences for specific educational programs, and the movement of people into and out of neighbourhoods.
Secondly, changes to the number of schools in a particular locality requires that Attendance Areas also change. For instance, two Attendance Areas may be consolidated if a school with declining enrolments is closed. On the other hand, when a new school is constructed it is necessary to assign a portion of an older school’s attendance area to it.
Finally, “housekeeping changes” to Attendance Area boundaries are made from time to time, as boundary descriptions are improved and historical overlapping and under-bounding are corrected.
The important point is that School Attendance Areas are not “etched in stone” and do change from time to time. For this reason potential home-buyers are encouraged to contact the Board Office to confirm the Attendance Areas of homes they may be interested in purchasing. A quick phone call may help to avoid the disappointment and frustration that results when a house purchase decision is made on false assumptions about the schools serving the area.
Why spend money on portables instead of building new schools?
Often people ask, “Why spend money on portables instead of building new schools or permanent additions?” While the answer to this question may not be obvious, one thing is certain. Portables or relocatable classrooms will continue to be used by The Upper Grand District School Board and other school boards requiring additional space at existing schools.
Portables are used for a number of reasons. Firstly, the number of students in a school’s attendance area can fluctuate over a short period of time because of people moving into or out of an area or because of children moving on to a more senior level school. Due to these fluctuations, school capacity has to “adjust” to periods of higher and lower enrolment.
Secondly, even if portables are repeatedly required at a school because of overcrowding, the process of constructing either new schools or permanent additions to existing schools is complicated and time-consuming. For these reasons, there is often a considerable delay between when the need for additional capacity is realized and when permanent capacity can be constructed. Portables are a flexible way to meet this need immediately.
Finally, portables are sometimes added to schools because some programs, such as French Immersion and Special Education, require separate classrooms to be taught effectively.
Who decides where new schools should be?
Determining the size, location and desirability of new school sites is one of the important tasks carried out by the Planning Department of the Upper Grand District School Board. For new schools to be constructed, the purchase of a proper site is a required first step. For existing schools, it may be necessary to increase the size of the original site to allow for expansions or additional play area.
Planning the location of new schools is more an art than a science. Some standard “rules of thumb” can be used to narrow down the options, but usually the physical landscape of the proposed development site dictates the areas most suitable for housing and those most suitable for parks and schools. In terms of size, school sites must provide enough room for the building, any needed portables, parking, and athletic fields. It is also advantageous for a site to have adequate street frontage to allow a large enough off-street area to permit safe school bus loading and safe access to the school by vehicles and pedestrians alike.
Where possible, it has been proven to be good planning practice to locate school sites adjacent to parks in order to make the open space more appropriate to a larger number of activities. Ideally, school sites should be located so they are central to the body of students they are meant to serve. One objective of the siting process is to maximize the number of students that can walk to a school (minimizing busing). Since the number of school-age children varies from one neighbourhood to another, it is sometimes necessary to locate a site slightly to one side of its Attendance Area. Other factors considered include transportation, proximity to existing schools, the programs required at a new school and how future school boundaries can be constructed.
Upon first reviewing a development proposal or plan of subdivision, the Board is given the opportunity to request that a site be reserved. After the exact location and size have been agreed upon, the Board purchases the site at a fair market price. If the best location was not originally available, a site may be traded for one at a more appropriate location.
It is important to emphasize two points. First, because the Board must purchase school sites far in advance of the need for schools in new areas, it is normal for these sites to be held dormant for long periods of time. Secondly, the need to trade for more suitable locations means that the presence of a nearby vacant school site does not guarantee that a school will be build there in the future.