Wednesday, May 13, 2009

North Huron ARC update

A frequent if anonymous tipster sent this through about the Avon Maitland District School Board accommodation review. This review is one of the ones I've highlighted that showed some innovative recommendations coming out of its final report, where the communities got behind the concept of building one, large school to service the students currently attending the schools under review. It's also a 7-12 issue review, as the board staff members' recommendation involves sending Grade 7 and 8 students to F.E. Madill in Wingham. (See previous post for more info)
Again, partly the reporting and partly the difficulty in explaining the process shows up in this part of the reporting:
At one of the first ARC meetings, Blyth representative David Sparling said that an Avon-Maitland employee had told someone he knew the board was going to recommend the closure of two schools and move the 7 & 8's into F.E Madill.
The board assured Sparling at that meeting that the decision had not been made, that did turn out to be the case and Sparling says if in fact they knew last fall-----why go through the review process.
The decision hasn't been made until trustees vote on it. As to having to go to review or not, the board has to strike a committee whenever school consolidation or closure is anticipated as an option. It has no choice under the ministry guidelines.
If trustees turn down the Grade 7 and 8 option, the board may then be faced with having to strike a review of F.E. Madill and other secondary schools. If the intermediates move, there may be room for a petition to review, which ultimately doesn't change the outcome.
Other boards whose first-round reviews were subject to review have revised their pupil accommodation policies to encompass feedback from the ministry appointed reviewer-- and in some boards this has included more explicit sections on how to 'grow' an ARC beyond the schools included when the committee was struck. Essentially, these reviews are telling boards trustees can / could have expand(ed) a review to include more schools if the committee had requested it.
Board decisions are subject to judicial review at the Ontario Court level if parents choose to take it that far, however even these legal decision have usually supported the trustee decision.


Anonymous said...

I think this points to one of the failures of the provincial guidelines, and one of the recommendations in the just-released report that has to do with including all schools within a regional district that draws students and not just targeting one or two schools within a cluster.

The ARC in my area also raised this concern because it was felt that there were schools in worse shape re: declining enrollment that weren't included in what turned out to be a long-term plan.

I've also been of the mind that trustees followed, as closely as they could, the outlined 10 year Capital Plan, and could have even before the new guidelines came into effect been further ahead approaching their communities on the Capital Plan alone..and some boards did that when they got tired of waiting for the promised guidelines.

Clearly the guidelines need more work and as this North Huron scenario points out leaves a huge question of what essentially the role of trustees and board admin. are and should be.

Lisa Bieman said...

The board and trustees in our area have done absolulely nothing for our schools. The CENARC banded together to "think outside the box" as they told the ARC committee. Well, needless to say, the decision to send 7&8's was already made. It came out during a gathering by a tipsy "in the know" individual. The ARC's time was a waste of time, money, and resources. They are still fighting, but it may be a lost cause. There has been some funding announced, but it is not for NMECE, as the board would like parents and citizens to assume.

People are used to this type of treatment around here. It is common place to do the rounds every five years and close a school. Blyth P.S. is at capacity and has very low operating costs, of course it is logical to the board to close the thriving school. The process is a farce.