QUEEN’S PARK – Local MPP Jim McDonell hopes to flex the muscle of the Ontario Legislature to save local schools.
In a motion introduced at Queen’s Park today (Nov. 1), the member for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry calls on the Minister of Education to suspend all Pupil Accommodation Reviews taking place across the province, and to sit down with communities and school boards to hammer out a long-term funding and infrastructure management strategy for rural schools, to help preserve rural students’ right to access local public education in their home communities.
“The government’s current approach forces school boards into a pattern of over-crowding and closures, which is totally unacceptable as it doesn’t just encourage, it imposes reckless decision-making on cash-strapped boards” said McDonell. “Funding for rural school boards has been cut while they face increasing challenges due to maintenance, escalating hydro costs, enrolment and competition. Moreover, boards such as the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) have to fulfil their mandate to provide public education to all students, regardless of the cost — the only Board with an obligation to do so. The Ministry of Education must stop off-loading the government’s mismanagement and waste on our children. They should instead take charge by engaging all rural school boards, school communities and municipalities in the development of a sustainable rural education strategy. While this happens, any accommodation reviews being conducted under today’s flawed guidelines must be put on hold.”
The Upper Canada District has launched a Pupil Accommodation Review that could lead to the closure of 16 Eastern Ontario schools this spring, and an additional 13 schools after that. The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario also has a PAR underway involving several Cornwall schools.
McDonell advises concerned residents to sign his petition to save rural Eastern Ontario schools available at www.jimmcdonellmpp.ca/petitions and in hard copy at his constituency office, 120 Second St West, Cornwall.
The MPP’s motion reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should place a moratorium on rural school closures and suspend Pupil Accommodation Reviews until it has developed a long term plan for rural education by consulting with all local rural school boards, school communities, students, and municipalities and that it considers the value of local education, ensures students receive a quality education that includes access to important extra-curricular activities and after school employment, and that it establishes a stable, sustainable funding formula for rural areas.