Tuesday, February 23, 2010

London has its cake and eats it too

I was sorely surprised Monday evening as I was reading Kate Dubinski's tweets from London city council as council considered the report from its committee regarding the Community Schools Alliance request for a "smart" school-closure moratorium. Council voted to support the call for the moratorium after over an hour of debate. From the article in Tuesday's paper--
"A moratorium is meaningless. It's not our jurisdiction," said Coun. Cheryl Miller, one of several councillors who opposed the move for a moratorium. Miller is a former school board trustee.
"If you want to change the school board, there's an election coming up. You can run," Miller told her colleagues.
A recommendation from city council's community and protective services committee stopped short of asking for the moratorium, instead asking the public and Catholic school boards to work with city council to develop a new school review policy.
Coun. Susan Eagle said council needed to go further because schools are an inextricable part of each neighbourhood.
Really? You want to go further? Well how about joining in?
Thames Valley District School Board London ARC 1, no municipal representative. Eagle sat on London ARC 2. Coun. David Winninger sat on London ARC 3. No city of London reps on ARC 11 (Ross / Thames-- a HUGE review that was ultimately disbanded and will be reformed once a program review of school-to-work pathways is complete). Coun. Walter Lonc sat on ARC 12 (Riverside and Westdale PSs).
That's a 60% participation rate for the City of London in the very school reviews it now sees fit to condemn and whine about. Congrats council, you've earned a C- grade on participating in the process.
With current ARCs being brought together for the board's third round, some on council are again saying they want no part in the process (see previous posts), BUT, they really, really would like those nice trustees to listen to them and their concerns.
The part that really bugs me?
I would bet dollars to donuts these same city councillors wouldn't tolerate or respect this sort of stance from another political body in their own affairs. Council makes decisions that are on the same level of difficulty (if not greater) as school closures and councillors take flack for these decisions made (hopefully) with the best intentions for all based on the information before them. Their seeming ineptness to understand trustees follow a similar process boggles the mind.
Does council realize that if it hadn't allowed north London to continue expanding but rather had invested in urbanization, redevelopment and intensification, it could have moved the lever on school accommodation issues? This sort of debate leads me to think some on this council don't have a clue the role they've already played in these issues and the one they could continue to play if they came to the (board) table, sat down, listened and brought something meaningful to the process.
It's easier, sexier and plies more potential votes to take this stance. The part that really, really grinds my gears is that the boards will still come to the city asking if council wants to play in the sandbox. The boards would bend over backwards to bring the city into the process, and even with this council decision, I expect trustee discussion tonight to be all about how to bring the city back into the fold. I hope my county counterparts in this district are paying attention, because from out here beyond the London Fog, it sure looks like trustees are obsessed with having London on board to a much greater degree than the other dozens of municipalities their schools are located in.


Anonymous said...

I responded to this article under the previous thread.

Hopefully voters in London will think twice before re-electing some of these twits.

If it was just education the city has hope but the news coming out of London Council on a good day screams dysfunction.

So I wonder how many municipalities in total the Alliance has on board now?


Education Reporter said...


Approx 160? Maybe 170?
Doug Reycraft told the LFPress' Pat Maloney last month-- the related post is linked in the body of this post.
That's out of just over 440 municipalities in Ontario, by the way.


Anonymous said...

It's an election year - so they aren't thinking about anything else except getting re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Anon. - you're right I think.

What better way to get re-elected than fight to keep your community schools open and make the board and MOE the bad boys.

The town council of my town pays token attention to education matters when it suits them. Trustees have had to attend council meetings to prompt their involvement and attention sometimes.

Avon Maitland annually hosts a meeting between the board and municipal representatives. They're doing their part to meet the council halfway.

I bet you this coming election not one question will come up for candidates re: education or school reviews, and you can rest assured that it will not be a plank for any candidate either.

Will be interesting in London to see if the candidates for that municipality include their own plan for education in that city.