Dieppe and Haultain schools still need public support to fight their closures next year. There are two school board meetings, November 22nd and December 13th, school supporters can attend. The final decision on both school’s fates will be made January 10 (Leader Post).
In this post I want to focus on the walking distances students may face if their neighbourhood school is closed. Not every student walks to school, but we think it is important that children are able to walk to school. Nearby schools might allow for the following: greater access to extracurriculars, for the grounds to become a destination play-space/hangout outside of school hours and increased independence for children as they age.
Haultain school serves Eastview, a small neighbourhood that is isolated from adjacent communities. Removing the school will make it difficult for students to walk to school. The area around Eastview is a mix of light industrial and commercial services, where large vehicles and busy streets define the neighbourhood boundaries.
Three schools have been suggested as alternatives: Glen Elm, Imperial and McDermid. Sadly, one of Imperial or McDermid will be up for closure in the near future as well. This leaves parents to guess, if Haultain closes, which school to switch to, with a wrong choice requiring their children to move yet again.
In order to understand the effect a school closure may have on walking distances I used Google Earth’s path measure tool to check distances between Haultain and Dieppe with other schools.
Haultain is in the middle of the neighbourhood and the average path distance from the neighbourhood corners to the school is 0.78 kilometers (km). Contrast that with the path distances of McDermid 2.36 km, Glen Elm 2.53 km, Thompson 2.52 km and Imperial 2.65 km.
Dieppe has an average path distance from the corners of the neighbourhood to the school of 0.71km. Dieppe is closer to neighbouring schools than Haultain with path distances for Walker 1.37 km, McClurg 1.74 km and Rosemont 2.21 km. Walker is the closest option, although the future of that school has been in question recently. The paths Dieppe residents would rely on also often are going through parks and open spaces and are not along proper road right of ways. I don’t know if these paths deteriorate during the winter and would cause further delays.
Growing up in Hillsdale, my walk to elementary school was only 0.45 km or 3-5 minutes depending on how old I was. During high school, my 10-15 minute walk translated into 1.45 km in path distance.
Reflecting on my school years, even the nearest option for both schools, Walker, would have been considered outside my neighbourhood. I know some classmates who would have walked further than 1.37 km but not that many. It’s tough to think of anyone walking 1.80 km or 2.00 km to my elementary school.
Closing these schools will force most children to take the bus or get driven to school.