The ARC Committee or Accommodation Review Committee from Renfrew County has been busy over the past several months meeting with the Public at various venues attempting to get feedback from concerned citizens about the possible closures of Rural Schools whose enrollment is considered to be too low to be accommodated any more!
In other words, if your little Rural School has a drop of enrolment below the Ontario “average” then it should just be forced to become vacant and closed. The students that will be forced from those schools will then be transported to nearby schools that may have vacancies and need additional students to make them more viable and deliver education services in a more efficient way.
Sounds reasonable? Maybe a bit too simplistic to be reasonable? Questionable?
One single voice has emerged from the citizenry during this exercise in the “destruction of Rural Ontario”!………..NO!
When this little can of worms is pried open a whole host of missing issues emerge and it “ain’t pretty”!
First off, the terms of reference under which this Committee was formed is not even close to being fair or complete. With faulty “terms of reference” a Committee can’t even legally be formed let alone function. But that hasn’t stopped this exercise in futility for concerned parents and citizens.
These terms of reference are solely interested into weighing the financial viability of small rural schools and don’t address the social and long term damage to the “units” (children) by uprooting them from their local schools where their friends, neighbours and families attend. Sound familiar? They were called RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS and we are still apologizing for that disaster!
To be fair, the “front men/women” for this Ontario Provincial Ministry of Education initiative are just “doing their job” and hosting meetings where civil discussion takes place and are not the ones who will make the final decision on closures.
That task is supposed to fall into the hands of the elected Trustees who are as follows:
Mr. Bob Michaud
336 Witt Road
Mr. David Howard
86 Oak Avenue
Mrs. Marlene Borutski
53 Byers Creek Road
Mr. Andrew Bray
P.O. Box 38
104 Burns Drive
Mrs. Judy Ellis
109 Islandview Drive
Golden Lake, Ontario
Mrs. Anne Haley
236 Marjorie Road
Mr. Bob Schreader
408 Broadview Dr.
These people will have the final “say” about which schools survive this ARC agenda and which ones are closed permanently.
Being an election year, I would suggest that each and every one of the above consider their actions in this decision-making process because their political careers will depend on which way their thumb goes on these closures.
The Sad Thing is……………..
The Madawaska Valley graduation rate at the Secondary level is well above the Ontario average of 80% and rings in at an incredible 95%!!!!
So these small schools that “feed” the Secondary system are obviously very successful and should be cherished, not dismantled. Ontario is admittedly experiencing a very serious problem of even maintaining a status quo, let alone improving it’s curriculum.
The following recent story should be a wake up call for school boards across Ontario but then why let the truth get in the way of a good LIE!
Kathleen Wynne styles herself as the education premier. Live by test scores, die by test scores?
STEVE RUSSELL / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Premier Kathleen Wynne, at a kindergarten in 2010, could face a difficult time positioning herself as the education premier in the upcoming election battle, Martin Regg Cohn says.
Martin Regg Cohn Provincial Politics, Published on Sat Jan 25 2014
Kathleen Wynne has more than a math problem. She has a political problem.
The fallout from falling math test scores is undermining the premier’s claims that Ontario classrooms are world class: Opposition parties are belittling her boasts, business is fretting and parents are grumbling about the province’s poor grades.
Like Dalton McGuinty before her, Wynne styles herself as the education premier, having served a long apprenticeship as education minister. But the debate over math pedagogy has complicated the premier’s political calculus.
With a potential spring election looming, Wynne had been counting on her education reputation to show voters she can deliver results. The premier badly needs an upbeat counterweight to heavy-duty campaign proposals (new transit taxes and pension premiums) that will hit voters in the pocketbook.
Until recently, the Liberals could claim they were on the right path. After investing massively to lower class sizes and raise teachers’ salaries over the past decade (up 25 per cent cumulatively until a public sector freeze), they could point to improved test results.
But Ontario has gone off course, losing ground to other provinces and countries in the latest PISA (Program for International Students Assessment) rankings. The province tumbled from 11th place in 2003 (when the Tories lost power) to 19th place in 2012 (under Liberal rule). Panicked parents started circulating petitions over perceived gaps in the math curriculum, and one prominent business leader warned of a “crisis” in math scores.
WHY would the Provincial Government use a program that was last used by Mike Harris and company to close schools in Ontario back in the late 90’s even though this present Government “slagged” the issue in order to get elected into Ontario back in 2003?
Could it be in the background there is a much “larger elephant in the room” such as “SUPER SCHOOLS“?
Could this be the end game being pulled on small Rural towns that seem so “marginal” in the big scheme of things that nobody can even believe they would be looking in that direction?
Well, here’s an interesting action that took place back in 2009 that could be the sign of things to come. In other words would you agree that your young 5 year old should go to a one stop school many miles from home from Kindergarten right through to Grade 12 without ever having to travel elsewhere? After all imagine the learning experience they would get in the playground surrounded by teens who are awakening to the issues of “sex, drugs and rock and roll”!
Wouldn’t that save you long hours of “birds and bees” discussions at home?
Wouldn’t that allow you a longer day without your children under your feet because they spend an hour and a half on the bus daily coming and going from that centrally located Super School some 6o kilometers away. What’s next? Dorm rooms for that live in feeling and complete separation of family life so the two don’t get mixed up?
One other thing that should be brought up here is that maybe the Provincial Government is so broke and unable to give teachers their huge pay raises because all the taxes generated under education is going on school upkeep and infrastructure maintenance that would be so unnecessary if those damn schools would just disappear. THEN, in place of those lost schools the Province would build huge bigger and newer schools but guess where that money comes from? GENERAL REVENUE!. Yep………right out of every tax payers pockets in addition to their regular taxation inside education charges. So in effect, the School Boards end up with additional cash that doesn’t have to be used on pesky upkeep on existing schools but could be offered to teachers and Board executives in the form of raises and expenses.
Would the teachers prop up a Government that offered this great deal specially in an election year.
To hell with the kids and the families and little towns that are literally ripped apart but keep that army of teachers happy and guided in the right politically correct direction so that Provincial mandarins are guaranteed their parasitic culture of living off tax payers hard earned dollars at any cost!
July 2, 2009 Stew Slater -for the News-Record
Trustees of the Avon Maitland District School Board – one in tears – unanimously approved the consolidation of four elementary schools into one to-be-constructed facility in the Wingham region, at a regular meeting on June. 23.
Effective September, 2011, Kindergarten to Grade 6 students from East Wawanosh Public School, Turnberry Central Public School and Wingham Public School will attend a new facility with estimated construction costs of $11.6 million. Students from Blyth Public School, which will also close, will attend either the new school or Hullett Central Public School in Londesboro.
The decision is in keeping with a recommendation from administrative staff, and comes following a public-consultation process that began last September. But that doesn’t mean the entire public is on side with the decision; three members of the public delivered official delegations to the board at the beginning of the June 23 meeting, about 15 concerned citizens sat in the normally empty audience section of the Seaforth-based board’s meeting room, and the meeting itself devolved into a short shouting match immediately after the decision.
“They said the kids in Blyth have two choices for where they’ll go,” commented one woman, who refused to give her name, to reporters as a group of audience members got up and left the meeting. “Well, they have four choices. They also have the Clinton
Christian School and the Catholic school in Clinton.”
One man, who was shouting at trustees, abruptly left after being spoken to by Mark Beaven, a community member who served on the board-mandated public-consultation committee. Beaven has been consistently critical of the board’s insistence on following through with the Grades 7 and 8 relocation. And he maintained that level of criticism after the vote.
“All they’ve done now is increase the animosity between the community and board,” he said to reporters, outside the building.
In his delegation to the board, Beaven called on trustees to defer the decision until September 2009, in order to gather further information about funding possibilities for a Kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school. This is the option being promoted by what’s known as the “Hot Stove Group,” consisting largely of community-based members of the now-disbanded public consultation committee.
He brought with him a photo-opportunity-ready, oversized cheque for $250,000 from the Township of North Huron and the Municipality of North Huron. Citing motions passed by the councils of each municipality, he explained the funds would only flow to the school board if a K-8 school is built.
Ontario school boards are neglecting repairs, which they have to pay for, and forcing the province to spend billions on new schools.
Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute, founded in 1792, is under threat of closure.
After the Liberals came to power in 2003 they changed how new school constructions would be funded. Under the old rules, local school boards had to pay for new builds out of their own budgets. The new rules changed this so that new school constructions would now be paid out of provincial coffers. The new regime creates what economists call a “moral hazard,” where school boards neglect renovation costs at existing schools, then request new school funds from the province because they know their own budgets will be unaffected, even though Ontario taxpayers bear the cost nonetheless.
These construction projects are contributing to soaring education costs: a year ago the Ontario government, as part of what has become an annual ritual, trumpeted an additional $711 million for new construction, retrofits or additions for schools. Astonishingly, the total cost for new construction exceeds $12 billion since the Liberals came into power back in 2003. Despite opposition from parents and students in cities like Hamilton and Peterborough, hundreds of schools have been closed to pave way for new schools. And all these costs were incurred while the Liberals were blaming our teachers for their fiscal woes.
Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (KCVI), another downtown high school under threat of closure, provides a stark example of the incentives provided to school boards to make an annual grab from the giant pot of taxpayer cash. After a lengthy school closure process, a majority of the trustees of the Limestone District School Board recommended that KCVI and another Kingston high school be shut down, but only if the Ontario Ministry of Education agrees to provide more than $30 million to build a new school.
The decision to close this tremendously successful high school has shaken the Kingston community. Founded in 1792, KCVI is Ontario’s oldest public high school and is the leading academic high school in southeastern Ontario. Former students include Sir John A. Macdonald, the first premier of Ontario, Oliver Mowat, two Nobel Laureates, members of the Tragically Hip, Don Cherry, Simon Whitfield, and on and on. The high school continues to attract students from throughout the Kingston area and is at full capacity.
Why close down this academically successful school? From the Limestone school board’s perspective, it makes (perverse) financial sense. The board is in financial trouble and needed repairs to fix up KCVI’s building would normally come out of the board’s own budget. Funding for a new school, however, comes from the province. In other words, the board knows it can neglect repairs and download its financial problems onto the taxpayers of Ontario by getting provincial money for a new school. It would be far cheaper to fix KCVI’s building, which has been named by Heritage Canada as one of the top 10 endangered heritage places in Canada.
A related problem for taxpayers surrounds how these new schools are being built. Since 2006, the Toronto Star, in a series of investigative stories, has tracked the egregious cost overruns for new schools in the Toronto area: $3,000 to install a simple electrical outlet, $143 to screw in a pencil sharpener and so on. The problems are so serious that last October the province put a halt to new school construction for the Toronto District School Board. The only difference between Toronto and other areas of the province, however, is that nobody has looked carefully at the money pits being built elsewhere.
The Liberals were not always so fiscally reckless. Their first budget in 2004 contained a number of new initiatives for students, but nary a word on new school constructions. Pushed by powerful development and construction interests, the Liberals eventually began announcing massive new investments in school construction; in 2012 it was $650 million, in 2013 it was $711 million.
The current system provides incentives for local school boards, as in the KCVI scenario, to act in a fiscally reckless manner as well as against the best interests of students. Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal party should declare a moratorium on all new school construction, then design a different funding system that will not bankrupt our province and will preserve good schools that serve their communities.
Arthur Cockfield is chair of the Save KCVI committee and a professor at Queen’s University Faculty of Law.
So here is Wynne and Trudeau stating that Investing In Education Means Jobs in Niagara YET wants to eliminate small Rural Schools to save money…………for what?
To pay for her “investing in URBAN schools” and to hell with the small communities who centre their Economic Development around their little “jewels of education” which feed students into the Secondary sector where in Madawaska Valley the graduation rate is a startlingly 95%, well beyond the Ontario average of 80%??????
Maybe an immediate MORATORIUM should be enforced on the present closure debate in our little corner of Ontario until some legitimate research is carried out before a disastrous decision is tabled!
Premier hits campaign trail with Morocco and Justin Trudeau in Niagara Falls
Jan 17, 2014 Niagara This Week – Niagara Falls Richard Hutton
RICHARD HUTTON/STAFF PHOTO
NIAGARA FALLS — Work going on at a city high school is a prime example of why governments need to keep investing in education, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday.
“It is a fantastic, fantastic place,” Wynne said after touring Saint Michael Catholic High School with Niagara Falls Liberal candidate Joyce Morocco and federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. “It’s a reminder of why it’s so important that we invest in high quality education for young people. That investment in publicly funded education is critical to our democracy, it’s critical to our economy and it’s critical to our future.”
The $6-million renovation and expansion at the school will result in the addition of eight new classrooms, creating 210 student spaces inside the building.
Education is also a key to growing the economy, she said.
“This is how you actually do it. You actually work with young people and make sure they have the skills that they need.”
Afterward, Wynne face questions from a throng of media and was adamant in her response to a question concerning recent funding announcements made in Niagara on the eve of a byelection being called — namely the $26.2-million planning grant for a new south Niagara Hospital and $75 million for the grape and wine industry — and whether or note voters may be cynical when it comes to her party when they head to the polls on Feb. 13.