Thursday, August 4, 2011

More misunderstandings

It's always interesting to read how different accommodation review processes are interpreted across the province. The latest example comes from the Orillia Packet & Times where the local trustee is adamant a review in the area conducted by the Simcoe County DSB should not go forward as planned.
Peter Beacock, representing Oro-Medonte and Springwater townships with the Simcoe County District School Board, will give notice at the August board meeting that he intends to ask that the accommodation review for Moonstone Elementary School, scheduled to take place this fall, be abandoned.
Beacock joins Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop and a group of concerned parents calling on the board to leave the little school alone.
"Hold the train for a bit," Beacock said Thursday. "Get the (capital priorities) list dwindled down some and then have a look at it."
Board staff previously recommended the school be closed. As a result, the board plans to strike an accommodation review committee (ARC) to look at the school's value to the community, businesses and school board, and consider all options.
Right away this gets confusing for the reader because it gives the impression the review has already begun. Well, it hasn't according to the list of active reviews on the SCDSB site. So announcing that you're going to bring something to a stop that hasn't started yet is a bit redundant-- the same as Beacock's eventual notice of motion and motion. Most boards don't vote on negatives, meaning they vote to do things, they shouldn't really be asked to vote to "not do" something.
Beacock wins the political game (maybe) by coming out and announcing this plan now. Even if he loses the procedural logic and any eventual vote, he can play the hero to his constituents. Despite having an elementary school under 200 FTE, likely of a certain vintage, with other accommodation options nearby (well, maybe not in southern Ontario terms) whose population is dropping by a classful of students every two years.
Really, one could ask if the effort would be better placed in lobbying his fellow trustees to defeat the recommendation, should it come forward in the fall as expected, to strike the review for Moonstone.
The reporter also missed a step in the last sentence of what I quoted above-- should have noted the committee makes recommendations. That goes back to my consistent pleas with fellow reporters to adequately explain the process that a review committee makes recommendations to trustees. Not decisions.


banderblog said...

Hugo, do you have any stats on the any predicted growth in enrollment over the next decade? I'd love to see what is being predicted province-wide. I have hear rumours of an upswing.

Education Reporter said...


I don't have detailed info, but any good demographer would. They would be keeping an eye on live birth records for the area and noting the numbers of newborns in each given year. After all, today's newborn registers for school in four (or five, or six) years.

Looking to the 2006 census, it told us there were 670,770 children in Ontario aged 0-4 (at the time-- they'd now be 5-9yo, already registered in schools). That number was down from the next age category, kids who would now be 10-14 years old.

The enrolment declines had always been predicted to fall off. The rumours you're hearing are true. FDK has complicated matters, but many boards are now seeing senior kindergarten enrolments that are larger than Grade 1 enrolments. Not by the number of students needed to make up for about 12 years of decline, but up. The StatsCan chart is here.

As to predictions beyond the five-year time line? They're entirely based on economic forecasts that predict dwelling counts based on job growth / commuting patterns / migration. Dwellings do not directly correlate to school-aged children. Those have to be continually refined. Not to mention our only population growth right now comes from immigration, so attracting and retaining these immigrants will largely dictate where significant population growth could occur. Given fertility rates in Ontario (even among immigrant populations past the first generation), it'll be a long-term challenge.

But some growth, any growth, in school age populations does change the dynamics.

None of which, as mentioned above, fills the already vacant pupil places in many schools. It also doesn't alone change the difficulties faced by smaller schools in any geographic area when it comes to programming and scheduling. Nor does it do anything to address the large number of schools approaching some pretty critical facility needs as they enter the 50-60-year age.