Monday, December 7, 2009

Old rules? New rules!

There have been a series of accommodation review / school-closure review committee stories in the alerts lately, as school boards start the work to strike the next round of reviews in their respective parts of the province. Of interest, one ongoing one in the Keewatin-Patricia board area in northwestern Ontario-- schools in the very north are different and have always been, I think it will be interesting to see what solutions are recommended in that environment.
Then, a Huron County mayor has his county council voting to stop a review already in process, in an attempt to simply postpone the inevitable.
Another interesting one was the decision by the Simcoe County District School Board last week to disband an accommodation review taking place in the Collingwood / west Simcoe area, as reported by the Enterprise-Bulletin. The board disbanded the committee after a request from the area trustee Caroline Smith and the committee itself, so that it wouldn't run under the first set of pupil accommodation policies.
"It the first time in Ontario a board has stopped an ARC process," she said in a telephone interview. "It's pretty darn amazing and a very positive outcome."
The ARC process began early last June to "deal with facility and student accommodation issues, focusing on Byng, Duntroon, Clearview Meadows, Nottawasaga- Creemore, and Nottawa elementary schools," said Smith.
At that time, the group was organized under the 2006 Ontario Government Accommodation Review Guidelines, she explained, despite an outpouring of public criticism from around the province about the content of those guidelines.
On June 26 Smith said the Ministry of Education released new guidelines that focused on improvements in consultation and decision making processes within the ARC process.
"A clause within the new 2009 ARC guidelines allowed for a transition period, and required that ARC's convened after Sept. 30, 2009 were to use the new guidelines. ARC E found itself in an odd place and space in time; convened under the old guidelines, but yet not having any substantive business of the ARC completed, by Sept. 30, 2009," she said.
I hope Smith isn't under the illusion this review is gone forever. I would bet Tim Hortons commodities once the board votes and approves its own revised guidelines that fall in line with the June 2009 ministry document, administration will bring back the recommendation for this review. Why? Well, in the intervening months since June, I doubt the circumstances on the ground vis-a-vis the rationale for this review (IE: student population, facility condition, programming) have changed during the past six months. They likely won't change between now and the new year when the revised board policy is approved.
Trustees' decision postpones the inevitable. It doesn't avoid it.
Other boards across Ontario are no doubt in the same situation-- those who moved quickly and have adopted revised guidelines post-June are striking new reviews under the revised rules. The rest likely have a group of reviews in abeyance until they approve their newly revised policies.


RetDir said...

According to the web site of the AMDSB ( the report on the North Huron ARC has been released, and describes the ARC policy as "exemplary. Might be worth getting hold of the whole report.