From the release:
The Community Schools Alliance is asking Minister Wynne to support a “smart moratorium” on all school closings disputed by municipalities. The goal of the smart moratorium is for the Ministry, schools boards and municipalities to work together and develop policies addressing such issues as planning for declining enrolments, a mutually agreed upon Accommodation Review Committee process (ARC), a review of funding to rural and small community schools, and defining the working relationship, transparency and accountability between municipalities and school boards.A smart moratorium? Smart according to whom?
Reycraft, Chair of Community Schools Alliance said, “No community should lose their school if they don’t want to lose it. Ontario municipalities are concerned about the Accommodation Review Committee process and the impact this flawed process has on the socio-economic fabric of our communities.”
Gerard Kennedy's 'requested' moratorium from 2003-06 is what's brought on the rush of ARCs and closings currently under consideration today. The very reason this coalition has been founded. Another moratorium, whether smart, dumb or otherwise, is only going to defer and delay the challenges ahead of virtually every school board in the province. The Declining Enrolment Working Group on which Reycraft himself sat was very clear we simply cannot defer, delay or ignore this issue.
Working together more effectively? Absolutely. Agree 150 per cent. Come to ARC meetings prepared to contribute -- and bring your wallet. Learn to accept that just because you've planned for 15 years of residential growth, it doesn't mean the people who move into those residential units are going to be punching out five kids each. You can't create school-aged children out of thin air and there are fewer and fewer of them every year. Municipalities also need to understand that just as they've updated municipal services and facilities, education needs to update its services and facilities in a sensible way with the best use of the resources at hand.
Just to show equal-opportunity lovin', the school boards should make sure they are more open to municipal offers of cash and other resources (ie: land) that could help find sensible solutions to accommodation challenges. Trustees should make sure they're seen vetting the accommodation review committee recommendations as thoroughly as possible. When a closure is the decision, particularly a "community school" closure (what school isn't a community school...), trustees need to work double-time to explain, in plain English, why that was the best option for all students.
In the meantime, this gives us something to keep an eye on as we head through the summer.