(continued)
A last hurrah for two local schools
by Sandy Lindsay

March 2, 2017
www.saugeentimes.com

Education

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Excerpts by speakers >>>



Concerned citizens crowd into Chesley's Board of Education meeting room

As one speaker said, "This is the last hurrah for these schools."  She was referring to Paisley Public School and Chesley High School that are both slated for closure.

More than 100 concerned parents and residents of both communities crowded into the meeting room at the Board of Education in Chesley on Tuesday evening, February 28th in a last ditch effort to stop or delay the closures.

Some 14 delegations, including County staff and the local Mayor, came forward to speak and it was more than obvious that each of them had done their homework. 

The schools are slated for closure and the Board of Education appears to have based its decision on the now 'infamous' Watson Report of 2013, which many contend is now obsolete in its school enrolment projections, given the recent (2016) announcement by Bruce Power of its intended refurbishments that will bring almost 3,000 workers (and families) into the area, of which Paisley is a part.

When it comes to data, it appears that numbers in Bruce County are on the rise ... births are up, kindergarten-aged children are up, minor sports registrations are up, population in Paisley is up .. how many ups does it take to keep a school open ... especially, when those numbers are expected to keep on rising?

Among the issues raised and that are deemed unfair in treatment by the Board and/or the Provincial Ministry of Education are:

  • flawed, erroneous funding formula (top of the list)

  • geographic area not being considered

  • school boundaries established are wrong

  • decisions are being based on incorrect and obsolete data (Watson Report)

  • renovation costs to schools are over-inflated based on Toronto pricing

  • provincial 'assault' on the agricultural community

  • extra costs involved in busing students

  • loss of the student voice

  • loss of schools that are rural 'community hubs' of activities

  • future population growth limited as no local schooling will be available

  • loss of community by students

  • loss in the economy of student-created individual employment

  • loss of extra-curricular activities in sports and arts for students due to travel time

  • detrimental affects on mental health

Given the issues, it appears that the decision to close the schools is a no-win situation.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

These school closures are not about the buildings, they are about the communities as most rural schools are community hubs.

 

Parent Laurie Stanyer

Despite public meetings and public input by individuals and organizations, such as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the County of Bruce, there seems to have been little impact on the decision and recommendation by the Board of Education staff to close the schools ... even though it is really up to the Trustees to make final decisions.

The Tuesday night meeting was emotional for many and cynical for others but a decision will be made in April regardless.


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Thursday, March 02, 2017