Healthy communities left behind? Exploring the consequences of the permanent closure of an urban high school for community stability and resident well-being

Authors: Patricia Collins*, Queen's University, Lindsay Allman, Queen's University
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: public school closures, community stability, quality of life, health geography, healthy communities, Canada
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Public schools are more than educational institutions; they are public assets that are essential parts of healthy and complete communities. Public schools are frequented daily by children and parents, they serve as sites for important community events and services for people of all ages, and they are key builders of community social capital. Despite their importance, public schools are being permanently closed across Canada, and particularly within the province of Ontario. These closures are caused by the confluence of an aging population, declining birth rates, rising operating costs for aging school infrastructure, and provincial funding cuts to public school boards. Public schools situated within urban cores have especially become targets for closure in Ontario because they face the double burden of declining enrolments and aging infrastructure within a provincial context of suburban growth.

This is an important policy issue that has received little attention from scholars. Accordingly, we studied the consequences of the pending closure of Ontario’s oldest high school on community stability and resident well-being in Kingston, Ontario. Adjacent to the city’s central business district and Queen’s University, Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute is scheduled to permanently close in June 2019. To understand the consequences of the closure decision, we interviewed key informants, including city councillors, neighbourhood leaders, school board trustees, and KCVI advocates, and conducted an online survey of residents living within KCVI’s catchment area. Our presentation will share some of the key findings from this research, which is currently underway.

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