The first, from the Orillia Packet & Times, repeats an oft-said concern about these reviews-- that they unfairly target rural schools. In this case, the schools in rural villages between Barrie and Orillia.
(Simcoe County District School Board trustee Jodie) Lloyd believes all schools, both urban and rural, are important, but like everything else, it comes down to finances. She said education is fighting against health care for every cent of provincial funding.I think Leishman's comment bears repeating often. I've been in many school-closure review committee meetings where rural communities (hello, Community Schools Alliance...) feel they have the monopoly on community.They don't. Every school is its own community and creates its own culture. Those cultures are different, but I've never accepted the statement that just because a school is in a rural setting its culture is automatically better.
The SCDSC is a board that has a lot of smaller schools, many of which are facing aging infrastructure.
"We, as a board, have a very difficult time supporting these schools. It doesn't mean it's right, it doesn't mean it's the way we'd like to go. But it is a challenge we're having," Lloyd said.
Eileen Leishman, principal of Marchmont Public School, said she has seen both sides of the coin -- working in both rural and urban schools. Both are equally valuable, she said.
"I think every school has its own culture... That's the uniqueness of every building.''
Rural or not, every student, teacher, administrator, and parent loves their local school. Any school facing closure in any community would feel an impact, but it's all part of a process bigger than the individual school, she added.
Next up is Dunnville Chronicle coverage of the last meeting of a school-closure review in that region just beyond the Niagara Peninsula. The article reads somewhat like a blow-by-blow account of the meeting in chronological order, but the key point is that the meeting devolved into a shouting match. Rather unfortunate those in attendance were unable (or unwilling?) to discuss the issues at hand in a rational way. There's a claim the committee's vote on its report was swayed when one of the trustees on the committee announced her vote before the rest of the committee voted-- which without looking at the policies and procedures for that board wouldn't resolve whether such a practice is not allowed or simply discouraged. These reviews are important to all those involved, but no one gets anywhere, or anything, by allowing the process to be hijacked by shouting and yelling.
The third, courtesy of the Owen Sound Sun Times, is something I think every one of the over 440 municipalities in Ontario should be sent so councils could read it and consider their own actions. It's a review in the Chesley / Hanover area of the Bluewater District School Board (whose current term of trustees have promised to do better).
"Our job as the ARC is to look at those options, but we can also come up with more options of our own," (review committee co-chair Jason) Eke said. "As a committee, we need to receive public input, prepare and study the alternatives and then prepare a final report with recommendations to the Bluewater Board."In other words, the municipalities should be at the table-- not just warming a chair, but bringing their own ideas, their own resources, their own recommendations. School boards must now meet with municipalities and other stakeholders annually to discuss partnership opportunities (how that looks like will differ from board to board) that might be available in schools that have excess capacity. Municipalities need to understand they have a role to play in providing recommendations, not just in complaining when the trustees don't choose the particular option(s) that either review committees or municipalities endorse.
The first of at least four public meetings planned to discuss the future of Chesley's two schools, along with Hanover's three schools -- John Diefenbaker Secondary School, Dawnview Public School and Hanover Heights Community School -- will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Chesley Community Centre.
"I'll be there and I urge as many members of council as possible to be there as well," Mayor Paul Eagleson said. "This is a very important issue for Arran-Elderslie."