Ministry of Education Must Step Up for Rural Schools

February 16, 2017

CORNWALL – Following an outpouring of community support for rural education, the Upper Canada District School Board amended its proposals for pupil accommodation to preserve a number of the schools previous slated for closure.  The revised plan still recommends the closure of the secondary component of Rothwell-Osnabruck.  The loss of South Stormont’s only secondary school is a huge impact on the township, with a consultant report projecting an annual economic loss of over $7 million.

 

“Rothwell-Osnabruck provides excellent education, development and growth opportunities to the Township of South Stormont, as well as great youth quality of life, youth engagement opportunities and community pride” MPP Jim McDonell commented. “Without the ability to raise children from elementary through to the completion of secondary school, parents will find it more difficult to choose to settle in South Stormont or remain in the township when their children attain high school age. While I am pleased to see the Board listened to community advice and feedback on many of its proposed closures, there is still a lot of work to be done to preserve education opportunities for South Stormont students. The latest census data reveals that the township is experiencing the highest growth in the counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, including the city of Cornwall”.

 

The final Board decision is due March 23rd.

 

“I encourage the Board to listen to residents of South Stormont and preserve the schools that the local communities rely on to survive”. MPP Jim McDonell stated.

 

Debate in the Legislature on the school closure issue highlighted the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to ensure appropriate rural education funding.

 

“The Minister of Education is trying to dodge the issue by pointing her finger at the local school boards, but it is this government’s legislation and budget cuts that they are legally required to deal with” MPP McDonell stated.  “Discussions during a community meeting on February 15th laid bare the frustration of all stakeholders whose Ministry can’t be relied on for consistent messaging and policy-making. The Minister of Education must still take the necessary actions to ensure this situation does not arise again. Six hundred schools across the province were on the chopping block, and most regions still face seeing most of the proposed cuts happen in the next academic year. It is time the Ministry of Education stepped up and acted on my motion to impose a moratorium on closures and sit down with communities, rural boards and municipalities to chart a new funding formula focused on delivering excellent public education to rural and northern students close to home.”