The community school in Cumberland. Image, Google image

The community school in Cumberland. Image, Google image

Cumberland considers outdoor learning shelters

Council supports request in principle but wants more funding information

Cumberland could be adding more outdoor space in the future for students and the community in general.

Council received information at its Feb. 8 meeting from the parent advisory council (PAC) of Cumberland Community School about expediting more outdoor learning space. The correspondence notes the school district is looking at installing standardized outdoor learning spaces in the coming years.

At a board of education meeting in the fall, district staff noted the pandemic had prompted schools to consider more the function of place-based or outdoor learning opportunities within the education system. Along with this development, Cumberland Lake Park staff had already been working with students on outdoor education programs.

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In Cumberland’s case, as it is a community school, the site not only serves students but after-school and community programming.

According to the PAC, the learning and gathering space would serve Cumberland in several ways: as an all-weather learning space for students; a stage for assemblies, speakers and events; and programming space for after-school programs and for community partners.

“The intent is to work collaboratively with the school district, and they’re looking also to work with the village,” Cumberland chief administrative officer Clayton Postings told council.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule said she was interested in the proposal, particularly in light of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“Given our current situation,” she said, “we need as much outdoor space as possible.”

Members of council had questions though about committing to something without enough details about funding.

“We could be looking at quite a sum of money here,” Mayor Leslie Baird said.

Coun. Jesse Ketler suggested looking at potential funding sources such as Island Coastal Economic Trust and whether the project would meet the criteria for the ICET funding stream, as well as whether a community group could apply.

Coun. Vickey Brown added that Cumberland should consider adding two shelters rather than one as a way to take advantage of economies of scale, perhaps erecting them at different sites.

Postings clarified that the staff intention at that point was to confirm whether council wants to explore the possibility of the project, saying the school’s PAC might be facing a timeline to apply.

Council passed a motion supporting the project in principle, with direction they receive more information on funding.

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