It does provide some clarification to the term 'smart' moratorium however.
The Community Schools Alliance, (CSA) begun in Middlesex County, now has an executive that includes high-powered officials from across Ontario in a full-court press to get the province to change how rural and small urban schools are assessed for closing.Note the use of 'small urban' as well, which means, technically, per the province's own definitions, communities such as Chatham (the settlement area, not the one-tier municipality), Sarnia, Owen Sound, Orillia, Woodstock, Brockville, Belleville, etc. etc. etc.) Roughly, anything under 100K population, give or take. Or perhaps that's too generous-- anything under 50K? Yet the moratorium would only halt rural-school closings where there is 'lingering debate?' So, if we keep disagreeing with the decision, it never actually gets implemented? This seems irrealistic to expect.
A "smart moratorium" would halt rural school closings, only where there's local lingering debate, until there can be broader municipal input into school boards' community consultations.
Media working the way it does, this article in the LFP -- seen as the 'paper of record' for a swatch of southwestern Ontario between the K-W / Brant border and Essex County -- carries a lot more weight than anything I would ever publish on the subject in the pages of my own newspaper. Not a critique, just accepting reality.
Glad to see the CSA website is running a little better-- some of the initial kinks have been worked out, and the alliance has also setup a Facebook page for those who prefer to surf within that world. Current membership as of writing this post was at 15, but that number's likely to grow, hopefully substantially. The news items are links and items that I've already been exposed to through a first round of accommodation reviews, but they're good reading regardless of where you sit on the bigger picture. I do wish all member municipalities were listed somewhere on the site, instead of just the executive members-- although it appears all rural and small-urban municipalities are about to receive a request to join the alliance in time for their August meetings.
These rural and remote communities (a term I think more accurately reflects the alliance's existing and desired membership) are rightfully piqued to say they feel their input hasn't been considered. I take the comments I continue to receive from those who believe I am 'against' their cause to heart-- I make every effort to be fair and consider and report on all viewpoints and as many perspectives as possible when appropriate. I am accountable for what I write and will respond, explain, defend and/or admit error where appropriate.
Which is why I write in a more critical tone about some of the alliance's statemants. I haven't witnessed every vote in this province, but I know if you count time as a factor of consideration, each of the 'rural' reviews in the board I cover -- the ones that led to the creation of this alliance -- received a long and thorough vetting by trustees. A trustee chaired each ARC and presented the recommendations, and some of the debates were quite fierce. Almost every single decision (eight of 10, if memory serves) for a school closure (including all three in London, that big, bad urban monstrosity) was a majority split decision with the dissenting trustees doing so quite loudly. One very urban trustee was practically in tears as she lobbied to keep a small school in an impoverished area of west-London from closing. She didn't have a gallery full of pissed off parents and municipal leaders to play to either-- she had only a few parents and one very upset teenager in tears at the impact the closure will have on her younger sister, a girl with restricted mobility. So I do get a little, er, flustered at the suggestion rural and remote schools have a monopoly on community and on the devastating impacts of losing a school.
Often, those who disagree with the decision continue to feel as though their input wasn't considered just because their own opinion didn't carry the day. My sh*t detector is telling me this may be the case for some of the alliance's members.
Maybe I'm wrong-- post a comment or e-mail me and explain why. I welcome it.