Friday, March 5, 2010

ARCs a plenty

The way timing worked out this was a week for school-closure reviews. Several media across the province picked up on either final committee meetings, report consideration before trustees or other ARC-related processes.
Two of these -- Petrolia and Brantford -- were about final review committee reports.
Petrolia's reached consensus on what it wishes to recommend to the Lambton-Kent DSB. I'll note the Petrolia community asked for this review as it looked at its existing facilities and tried to meet the needs of growth programs, updating school facilities and sensing the declining enrolment challenge.
In Brantford, the committee recommended closure and consolidation of two existing onto the site of one of the schools. The committee is also scheduled to present a minority report to trustees, indicating there is another opinion from the committee aside the one in the report -- which in this case happens to be the location of where the consolidated school should be.
The District School Board of Niagara review in the City of Welland is winding down-- the committee held what appeared to be its final public meeting, putting its recommendations to date before the public. The Tribune's piece showed how some agreed and disagreed, but indicates the general tone is supportive of what the committee is set to recommend to trustees. That same review drew the attention of Peter Kormos (NDP--Welland) in the legislature before it was prorogued Thursday, which the Tribune also published an article on.
Crowland is a rural school and its closure is "going to leave a large area without service and force students to be bused into the urban area," Kormos said.
He asked whether (Education Minister Leona) Dombrowsky would intervene to protect Crowland, the rural community and the families and children who depend on the school.
Dombrowsky replied it would be "totally inappropriate" for anyone in government at the provincial level to become involved.
I don't find that response surprising. As I've opined in this space before, the province has been fairly consistent in giving boards the duty and responsibility for accommodation decisions, even if its funding and policies do provide significant guidance. An article from the Ottawa Citizen shows a parent group making a direct appeal to the minister to intervene-- one where the parents involved are asking for the same sort of review the petition allows. Well, with the exception that an administrative review doesn't overturn local decisions, which is what the parents are ultimately seeking.
The last I'll tie into this post comes out of Collingwood, where a boundary review is nearing completion. OK, yes, it's not a school-closure review. But I think some of the schools were to be part of a review canned by the Simcoe County District School Board last year so it could await implementation of the revised provincial guidelines. It also shows that sometimes accommodation doesn't mean the full ARC process, but can still involve the same public input and, potentially, the same level of conflict.


Anonymous said...

I think that important as reporting on ARCs and Accommodation Reviews should be, that when the outcomes end in closure, the reporting begins to be more about doom and gloom and less about possibilities.

Ontario is getting tired of the ride.