Queen’s Park – MPP Jim McDonell demanded a commitment from the Minister of Education to ensure the community’s voices in the upcoming consultations on potential school closures in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry are taken into consideration. Under the current Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines, the Board must only consider the “value to the student” and the “value to the Board” in their decision to reassign pupils, because the Government removed “value to the community” and “value to the local economy” in 2015.
“This Government has a record of depriving communities of a voice when it comes to what their communities want and what is best for their future” MPP Jim McDonell stated. “They did it with the Green Energy Act and municipal zoning powers by ignoring people and municipalities and forcing industrial wind and solar plants on unwilling communities. They did it when they closed the Kemptville Agricultural College, without any consultation. Now they are doing it again with the Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines and local schools. How can this Government look rural Ontarians in the eye and tell them, with a straight face, that their concerns will be listened to when they’ve removed the Board’s obligation to do so?”
Previously, Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines mandated that Boards consider value to the student, to the Board, to the community and the local economy of closing local schools. In 2015, the latter two “values” were underhandedly removed
“Rural education isn’t just about a Board’s bottom line” MPP McDonell stated. “Local schools are vital to rural family values, community spirit and the pride of our youth. Many schools in our area score very well in published rankings which is an attracting factor for prospective residents. By reducing the Board’s tax base and removing local community voices from key decisions such as school closures, this Government is dealing a massive blow to the viability of rural Ontario communities.”
A staff report to Upper Canada District School Board recommended the closure of up to 30 schools across Eastern Ontario and was approved at the regular Board meeting on Wednesday last week.