Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Middlesex pols continue campaign for small schools

The Strathroy weekly had this story about a school council parent from Glencoe who is adding fuel to the fire of the rural discontent over the closure of small schools. Karen Aranha presented reams of school-by-school enrolment vs. capacity charts (and some nice bar charts too) to Middlesex County councillors, later presenting the same information to Thames Valley District School Board trustees during a June 2 budget input session.
The information itself is not new -- Southwest Middlesex Mayor Doug Reycraft presented these same statistics (obviously tied to data at the time) to the board last year as it was completing the first round of accommodation reviews. The numbers don't lie, there are more vacant pupil spaces in London schools than outside London. The us vs. them sentiment in Middlesex is turning into a disturbing trend, however. A recent French immersion review included commentary from county parents saying they'd rather bus their kids from one end of Middlesex to the other to be with other county kids than into a London school that's actually closer.
What the June 2 and county presentation doesn't effectively illustrate is overall school size. The board has a preference for elementary schools of 400 pupils, and a whack of schools all over the place built for 200 or 300. The rural small school closures make sense, if the board would simply do a better job of explaining why it wants schools in that population range.
Aranha made one comment to trustees indicating all but a handful of London elementary schools were at 400 students. I would add the number outside London is probably three or four, tops.


Anonymous said...

Again, by the Ministry's Declining Enrollment report those 400 schools are above average...and shouldn't have to close.

How many board administrators will be downsized to keep pace with this boards enrollment decline.

Do we know how much boards have saved in their own backyards before closing schools?

We have very small schools in my board that were never touched or reviewed but the close to average ones were.

Something's wrong with all of this.