Wednesday, May 13, 2009

North Simcoe ARC updates

Two separate articles on high schools involved in an accommodation review in the northern Simcoe County communities of Penetanguishene and Stayner, as the community leaders, parents and residents in those communities prepared for presentations to trustees on Thursday.
Both show the fallacies and complete misunderstanding of the accommodation review process. In both you'll find outrage from community leaders and/or review committee members that board staff haven't considered the review committee's recommendations.
As stated here before-- trustees are the ones deciding here, not administrators. If administrators agreed with the review committee's stance, they wouldn't have recommended the schools for closure in the first place. The conclusion of the committee process is not meant to necessarily result in change in the recommendations coming from administration. It's meant to provide public opinion and recommendations to trustees-- who should then be weighing one set of recommendations against the other and choosing the best option(s).
The committee itself is partially at fault here since its recommendations showed only an inability to reach a consensus on consideration of any one school's closure. The "keep all schools open" consensus position ignores the realities and reasons why the review was struck in the first place. The recommendations didn't address the reasons leading to the review in the first place.
This part of the Stayner story also drove me little batty...
In a lengthy motion approved on Monday night, (Clearview) councillors also stated the staff report recommending the closure of Stayner Collegiate to be "inadequate, incomplete and unjustifiable," and "as a result, faulty in its logic and conclusion."
The motion also notes the staff report provided a "total disregard to the public comments... (and) contradicts the fundamental principals of the provincial Places to Grow legislation."
Council should read the Places to Grow Act and the related Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan. It doesn't call for a booming expansion of Stayner. Simcoe County is identified as a target for growth, within its large urban centres (IE: Barrie, Orillia). If I reported in that community, I would also be among the first to remind council of its stance here the next time it makes a decision that runs contrary to public comment.
From the Penetanguishene article, I got a kick out of the trustee's comments on the local French high school and PSS' French immersion program. Penetang is probably the most bilingual community in southern Ontario between the west end of Ottawa and Windsor... the comments make sense. Yet it also shows how the Declining Enrolment Working Group's recommendation to force boards to work together on space issues made sense. French boards have received millions in capital to finally have schools of their own, at the same time as English boards conduct accommodation reviews.


Anonymous said...

From the Min. of Ed's Declining Enrolment Report(March 2009)

Highlites of Recommendations include:

"The ARC process should be modified-reviewing the school valuation framework, the nature of advice ARCs should offer, the consultation process, the role of school board personnel on ARCs and a streamlining of the process."

"The ARC process seems to create expectations and consultation that it is not able to fulfill and the process lacks flexibility."

"ARCs usually focus on specific schools even though enrolment issue may be board-wide".

Many who have experienced this process have given it a thumbs down for exactly the reasons above.

Couple that with either a dysfunctional or non-existant school council and the provincial process creates more problems than would have been the case if boards were left to their own devices.

Looking at other boards and how they framed their own review policies, some went strictly by the book, while others didn't and left many open-ends.

Education Reporter said...

The ARC process has been implemented in a horrible fashion and explained in an even worse fashion. Many boards are getting into their second round of reviews and still haven't been able to concretely explain the process is to provide trustees with recommendations for consideration. Not recommendations that must be followed. Staff recommendations have carried a lot of weight in many reviews, but some boards are able to come up with different outcomes (ie: NDSS).