Myth - Closing and consolidating schools saves money
Fact - Studies show that there are no real savings by closing or consolidating
schools. Increased busing and increased administrative costs quickly offset any savings. There is also both a community and economic impact from school closures that offset savings.
Myth - Schools must be closed due to declining enrolment
Fact – Statistics Canada show that the number of youth in many communities is increasing. Even in communities where there has been a decline, the Drummond report states that the decline in enrolment will end in 2014 and that enrolment will begin to increase around 2015. Drummond cautions that this increase must be considered when planning for controlled growth in the education sector.
Myth - Programming and extra curricular are better in larger schools
Fact – This position ignores other factors impacting whether a program can run. Even the largest schools can’t offer every course in every semester and if there are not enough students enrolled in a program it won’t be offered. Class schedules are determined by the student interest and teacher availability. These are also the primary factors in extra curricular activities. A large school does not guarantee any program or activity can or will be offered.
Myth - The ARC process provides community consultation and input into school closures
Fact - There have been very few successful ARCs in Ontario. The requirement that multiple schools be reviewed often results in pitting one school community against another, dividing communities as they fight for their home school. The high number of facilitator review requests demonstrates that this is a process that is broken. Wounds from the ARC process may take years to heal in some communities.
Myth - Large schools are better able to meet diverse student needs.
Fact – Studies have shown that special needs and other groups of students may be more apt to fall through the cracks in large schools. Small community schools provide opportunity for greater student /school interaction and more one-on-one attention resulting in faster identification of issues and therefore faster solutions. Bigger is not better.
Myth – It makes more economic sense to build large regional schools and bus students from surrounding areas to it than to maintain smaller community schools.
Fact – This myth fails to take into account macro issues like Peak Oil and our carbon footprint. We know we must become less dependent on fossil fuels if we are to reduce our carbon footprint and improve air quality. We also know that the cost of gas and diesel is going to continue to rise as supplies dwindle. This means replacing walking with busing is not only contrary to “green” thinking, it is also going to get more costly in future.
Myth - School Closure is a “ local” board decision.
Fact - The local boards are not very local. Since amalgamation, boards cover wide geographic areas with different demographics and needs. Trustee representation is spread across these large boards so only a few trustees are voted in by any one community. Part of the funding formula states that boards can’t build a new school in one area if they have excess capacity in another. This sets up a competitive environment for schools and resources even within the same board. The funding formula must be changed to better reflect the reality of amalgamated boards.
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