The following article by Bill Templeman ran in the Hamilton Spectator May 25, 2013.
Across Canada, public school enrolment is dropping. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has more than 11,000 extra spaces in its 113 schools; board officials believe that up to 30 schools may have to be closed. The board believes it has no choice. This scenario is playing out across the country, with the exception of areas experiencing high immigration, mainly large metropolitan areas like Toronto. Read more.
There is something very wrong about how school boards are governed in Ontario. The Education Act is letting communities down with Accommodation Reviews which vary widely in their structure and guidelines. The result? Closure of schools that are the focal points of our neighbourhoods. There is no appeal process. With huge school boards covering vast areas, local communities have little control via their elected trustees. Look what’s happened in Peterborough, Ontario. Peterborough has 2 local trustees out the 11 trustees on the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Peterborough Collegiate Vocational Institute (PCVS), a highly enrolled, low cost to maintain high school has been slated for closure, while the board provides dubious and fluctuating rationale for their decision. Who do school boards represent? Whose tax dollars do school boards spend? Whose communities are most affected by giant school boards who make decisions for communities and neighborhoods of which they know nothing?
The PCVS Story
Imagine a model school that provides a safe community for youth at risk, operates cost-effectively and at near capacity every year, delivers superior academic and arts achievement, has graduated leaders for more than 100 years, and provides a cornerstone for a vibrant downtown community. A school ranked by Maclean’s as one of Canada’s top five schools. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
This flagship school exists but has been slated for closure in a tragic failure of public process!
What’s Wrong and How do we Fix It?
The ARC process, as currently established in The Education Act in Ontario , has been designed to give communities an opportunity to respond to school board plans for community schools. Sounds very democratic. Or is it? Communities affected by a school board’s decision to close a school have no recourse to address their concerns. Even the Ministry of Education cannot overrule a school board decision. This is just the tip of the iceberg…
School Closures: Myths vs Facts
Myth - Closing and consolidating schools saves money
Fact - Studies show that there are no real savings by closing or consolidating
Schools. Increased busing and other costs quickly offset any savings . There is also both a community and economic impact from school closures that offsets savings.