Monday, October 19, 2009

Two different takes on alliance

Catching up to a few coincidental things from this past week-- First came an article in the Midland Mirror regarding town council and Mayor Jim Downer's reluctance to weigh in on the Community Schools Alliance's requests over the summer and early fall. 
“I really don’t think I’d like someone from the school board coming in here and directing us what to do for the Corporation of the Town of Midland,” [Midland Mayor Jim Downer] said.
Coun. Bob Jeffery agreed, stating he is against “riding roughshod” over the school board’s “duly-elected representatives.”
Coun. Gord McKay, however, suggested council has a duty to speak up on issues that affect Midland residents, regardless of whose toes get stepped on.
“If we cannot speak to the needs of families in our community, I don’t know who can,” he said. “Schools are an essential part of the community.”
As for being sensitive to jurisdictional issues, McKay pointed out Midland council has not shied away from resolutions on the controversial Site 41 landfill proposal or local hospital governance.
Coun. Pat File backed McKay, referring to the recent Simcoe County District School Board debate on shuttering Penetanguishene Secondary School. She noted the closure, averted after a public outcry, would have had a major impact that could have spilled over into Midland.
I would quibble the closure wasn't averted-- its fate has been postponed until after 2010 elections because the current slate of trustees couldn't make a decision. The position in Midland is an interesting one, given, I believe, one of the town's public elementary schools has closed within the last five-to-eight years, likely prior to the Kennedy requested closure moratorium. File's characterization -- "spilled over into Midland" -- is an interesting one, given most of the student body from a closed PSS would have enrolled at Midland Secondary School, which was pegged for some renovations and updates.
Compare that to what is being seen as more to type on the alliance request, with this example from CKNX AM920 over the Town of Goderich's response to the same alliance request. Council supported sending the form letter off to its local MPP.
Goderich mayor Deb Shewfelt believes what the Alliance ultimately wants is more input from municipal councils on the decisions to close schools.
Shewfelt says he was very happy with the input Goderich council was able to provide into the recent accommodation review in Goderich, and the result is proof that boards of education and municipal councils can work together.
Shewfelt says part of the solution in keeping schools open is inviting different community groups to share in using excess space in schools. 
Now, as a third and final one, consider this response posted over at my other blog.
Still waiting, as posted here before, for a list of who's in and who's not when it comes to the alliance. I'd also be curious to see how many letters are sent.


Anonymous said...

"Huron County Council is throwing its support behind a Community Schools Alliance-led resolution that calls for a "smart moratorium" on disputed school closures."

According to the Goderich Signal Star the vote was unanimous. The municipal reps. seem to feel that they're still not being heard, even though some are in the ARCs themselves.

The standard and expectation for closure is very different between small towns and urban boards.

Moira MacDonald has a column in today's Sun in which the new director has mega-plans for more independent schools of choice for that board. In the column MacDonald laments that as several ARCs get underway in the TDSB she shares that likely few will actually be closed.

Too bad you can't get a list of communities on-board from Reycroft's group ER.

How about we do a shout-out here and now for anyone lurking from the Alliance to contribute to this discussion by letting us all in on just which municipalities are supporting the alliance?

Education Reporter said...

Well, let's compile one.
The ones on the executive and beyond are a start. There are some 440+ across Ontario.

Southwest Middlesex
County of Middlesex
Elgin County
Hastings Highlands
Simcoe County
South-West Oxford

Please add where you know council passed the summer resolution in support.

Anonymous said...

Huron County - that's separate from Goderich Council. The County spans from Grand Bend to just south of Kincardine in the north to Seaforth in the east.