Former School Board trustee urges Council to become more involved in education

Former Bluewater School Board trustee, Kevin Larson, came before Saugeen Shores Council recently with suggestions regarding the proposed move by the Board to have Grades 7 and 8 students transferred from local elementary schools to Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS).

Larson said that the Board has taken the position that the decision in this matter is theirs and that, according to the Board, because it is a relocation of less than 50 per cent of students, no accommodation review was required.

He said that it’s the politicians who are closest to the community and suggested that a committee of Council be struck to perform a “… community wide consultation on student accommodation”. He pointed out that under the Education Act “… A school council shall consult with parents of pupils enrolled in the school about matters under consideration by the council. [O. Reg. 612/00, s. 23].  “It is vitally important that each school council be represented in any community wide consultation. They have the authority to consult with parents, said Larson.

“I suggest that the Committee be made up of: 1 or 2 council members.1 former council member, 1 town employee/representative, 4 parent reps, 1 from each of the 4 school councils (EPESCS, Northport, GC Huston, and SDSS), 1 or 2 former educators (current employees could quite quickly get into a compromising position with their employer), 1 (or 2?) BIA or Chamber rep and 1 Student rep from SDSS.

Larson also suggested in his deputation that the Committee invite the Board’s representative from the Ministry of Education as part of the process, to explain how procuring a new school or expansion of an existing one is funded and the explain the Board’s role and to identify the time line. “It’s the Ministry that makes the rules,” said Larson, “therefore, they need to come to the Committee and explain them.”

“Charge the committee to come back to council with community ideas for accommodating
student growth,” he added, “and then proudly share this with the school board. We are partners. It is vitally important that each school council be represented in any community wide consultation. They have the authority to consult with parents.”

According to Larson, local education has been distanced form local elected government.  “You, Council, have a chance to help your community through this important time. You all know – that having great schools and programs are intimately linked to the continued success of this community.”