The CSA executive met with Education Minister Kathleen Wynne Monday for its allotted 30 minutes. CSA chair Doug Reycraft's assessment of the meeting is here. Another assessment is here. From the LFP piece:
Lobbyists were trying to persuade Wynne to change the process by which rural and under-enrolled schools can be closed. They have called on her to impose a "smart moratorium" on such closings until municipalities can be included in school boards' decision-making.The minister's response, as phrased by Reycraft, doesn't in and of itself surprise me. The chances of her coming into the room and saying, "OK, sure. We'll freeze every planned school closure again for another few years-- against the recommendation of the very working group you sat on, Doug," was slim to none at best.
That assurance didn't happen during a half-hour meeting in Ottawa at the conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Reycraft conceded.
But Wynne did talk about the ministry's new draft policy that urges facility partnerships among school boards and municipalities and that was an "encouraging" sign, Reycraft said.
"I think we knew when we started this (alliance) it wasn't going to be a 100-yard dash but a marathon."
At the conclusion of the AMO conference, the CSA sent out a press release to media outlets regarding the enthusiastic support shown by delegates at the inaugural meeting. It also posted the PowerPoint presentation as a PDF to its main page. I'll take a moment here to quibble with a few things in that document:
- P4 How we got to this point -- Funding formula, foudation grant and top-up funding for rural schools spent at board's discretion: Um, no. The ministry tells the boards which schools are eligible (based on distance from the next nearest school, usually) and the boards can only spend the money in those schools. (I am looking into this). Most southern Ontario boards get very little of this funding because the schools aren't far enough apart. As to the foundation grant, it provides funding for full-time principals and other staffing for all schools whose student populations aren't large enough to pay for one through the funding-formula ratios.
Misrepresenting the way things work for a political end might work with those who don't know how school-board funding works, but it won't fly with me.
- P5 The challenge -- These closures represent: If municipalities do nothing, absolutely agree. If they step up to the plate, not necessarily. See an example, here.
- P8 CSA guiding principles -- This challenge must be solved by the Minister of Education and not school boards: Really? This contradicts the items on P4 regarding the loss of local control. Does the CSA want local solutions to local concerns, or the Minister to decide everything?
- P13 Bill 177: Interesting, but I don't see the point of including this as part of a smart moratorium request. CSA believes the regulation-set standards boards will be held to will hasten the move to a singular school model across the province. Given the wide variety of school structures and organizations that already exists, I highly doubt that.