School Closures Being Politically Massaged in Eastern Ontario by Jamie Gilcig MAY 4, 2017

School Closures Being Politically Massaged in Eastern Ontario by Jamie Gilcig MAY 4, 2017

Cornwall Ontario – One of the biggest problems in managing the school system in Ontario are the multitude of school boards and weakness of politicians to make the right decisions.

Four year terms pass fast, and making a decision like closing a school or library can cost at election time as many have threatened on social media.

The cost of running and maintaining a building is prohibitive.   If you multiply that over a community like Cornwall and the area it’s huge.   While we can point fingers at the high cost of our teacher’s income; the bureaucratic overhead is pretty darn high as well.

Four school boards mean four sets of management and bureaucracy.  It means excess buildings, different union contracts and ultimately less dollars spent on actual education. Is it any wonder why we get such poor rankings from our regional schools?

Does it really make sense to have both English and French public and Catholic school boards in 2017?  Could not there be one school board with mandates to fulfill all while sharing buildings and overhead?

Does Ontario Need Four School Boards?

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Frankly the amount of schools being closed is not enough based on the numbers.    In the Cornwall area we are seeing more seniors moving into the community; not families with school aged children.   Even Syrian refugees have ducked our area.   We also have lost families, and ultimately that’s seen in our empty seats in expensive buildings across the region.

Class size is a large factor in cost as well.   Teachers are not paid by class size directly.   While nobody would suggest over sizing classes, under sized classes bloat our cost per student dramatically.

All of these excess buildings need to be sold off or reused in the community so that funds can be available for newer schools as needed.    While we’re seeing some solutions involving some schools moving their student body into other schools more could be done.

And having one school board instead of four would dramatically reduce duplication of service.

At the end of the day our tax dollars for education should go into educating kids instead of where far too much of our budgets are going.

Of course that’s not popular, and at the end of the day would cost some people their jobs.  That’s not how you win an election, and that of course not how you get re-elected.

It’s a slippery slope that at the end of the day we all pay for.  Mostly our future generations that are passing through the system simply lacking skills and knowledge because resources are being spent on empty seats.

For the rural communities facing the loss of their facilities empathy and even sympathy may be warranted, but the  Canary has been singing in the coal mine for decades now.   Instead of communities like South Stormont that behave in the oddest of manners, perhaps they should look at behaving in manners that attract young families rather than chase them away?

Culture, entrepreneurial opportunity, diversity, openness,  the arts, and inclusivity is what attract people, especially younger people.    Not Bun Fest, or petty corrupt politics.

The status quo has us where we are today.  The challenge for many rural communities is whether they can pull together and work towards improvement or simply watch more facilities close in their communities.

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comment below.

 

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