Second City, Second Metro: Cumberland Township Also Needs Schools

In March of 1961, the massive Queenswood development was announced. Source: Ottawa Citizen, March 20, 1961, 7.

It wasn’t just anxiety over the size of the proposed Queenswood proposal that had gripped Cumberland Township. The question as to where, exactly, the children that would be filling those homes, were to go to school. 

Even though Queenswood was nowhere near complete, the delivery of public education in Cumberland Township had already proven difficult. The public school board was more than well aware that more schools (and modern schools) would be needed, but it was also equally aware that the capacity of its tax base to deliver on that need was limited.

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  The Report on Research Findings shows the inadequacy of the public school facilities compared with those of Ottawa, there being auxilliary [sic] classes, remedial teaching, industrial arts or home economics classrooms, kindergartens, library rooms, gymnasiums or auditoriums. Despite this lack, Cumberland is paying slightly more per unit of assessment than is Ottawa, yet is only able to spend just over half as much per public school pupil, even though Provincial grants cover a higher percentage of costs. 

  This disparity reflects Cumberland's much lower assessment per pupil, due to the deficiency of industrial-commercial assessment in a rural area, and illustrates the folly of trying to finance an equitable education system with real estate taxation. 

  The present position will worsen in future with the rising cost of education, if the forecast of residential dormitory development for Cumberland materializes. Under the present system of financing, the municipality will have to either reduce its standard of education, or set taxes so high they will force farmers to sell to speculators. 
  School consolidation will improve education, but the better schools plus cost of transportation to them will increase over-all school expenditures and require road improvements as well. 

  Service from the County Health Unit to Cumberland Township Schools is almost non-existent, and the County has taken no action to overcome the lack of public libraries. 

  Long range capital programming and regional planning are

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desirable, and will require close cooperation between municipal governments and school boards.



  The submission was made by Dr. K.H. Hart, Chairman, Mr. R. Bradley, Vice-Chairman, and Stanley Edwards and Robert Edwards, members of the Board.

  It was pointed out that the present Township Board took over the six existing schools from the four previous Boards, on January 1, 1965. These schools include two one-room, two two-room, one four-room and one six-room, all covering grades 1-8. Pupils over two miles from a school are generally transported by bus today, at Board expense. In addition public school pupils from the Queenswood area, who number about 40, attend school in Ottawa, the Township paying $2.00 per pupil per diem tuition (compared to a cost of just over $1.20 per diem in the Township schools) and the parents paying transportation costs. There are about 500 public school pupils alltold [sic]. All secondary students from the Township attend Ottawa High Schools.

  Teachers in the Township schools generally have little experience; it is hard to get teachers for the one-room schools and the bad roads make teacher-commuting difficult, as well as adding to bus transportation costs (which represent about 20% of the Board's budget). Education purchased in Ottawa is superior, but parent-school contact is made difficult by the distance. 

  The Township public schools are all too small, and the Board is aware of the need for consolidation, probably into two schools of about 250 pupils each, which will increase transportation costs. In addition, a school may have to be built in the Queenswood area in perhaps three or four years depending on the rate of

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development. It was stated that all this will impose a heavy financial burden on Township ratepayers and increase the portion of Township expenditures required for education, unless property taxes are relieved of more costs, or costs are pooled over a wider area with better assessment, such as the urban area to the west of Cumberland. 

  While the Board felt it essential to retain local character in the control of education, it is admitted that the over-riding need to provide a standard of education equal to the City's will require giving up some local sovereignty. It was suggested that perhaps a larger financing unit could be combined with local administrative units in a satisfactory solution.