The Upper Canada District School Board has replied to MPP Hillier's October 3rd Open Letter to the Board of Trustees on the student accommodation review process and the potential closure of schools.
You can view the UCDSB's letter below, followed by a copy of MPP Hillier's reply.
MPP Hillier's Response:
Upper Canada District School Board
225 Central Avenue West
Brockville, ON K6V 5X1
Dear Mr. McMillan,
Thank you for your October 12 response to my open letter to the Board of Trustees.
In your response, you request my assistance and support to address the perceived inadequacies of the per-pupil funding model. While a review of the funding model may be justified, from my perspective an examination of the revenue model is more appropriately undertaken after a thorough review and examination of program and operational expenditures. If, after an objective analysis of expenditures, there is a determination that statutory responsibilities cannot be executed under the existing funding formula, then I expect that would trigger a funding review. At this time I have not seen evidence that this has been undertaken.
I am, however, disappointed that your correspondence made no reference to my specific suggestions and advice, and that they remain unaddressed. In the absence of a response to my concerns, I only see that a revenue hand out is being sought. I trust this was inadvertent and an oversight that will be remedied shortly.
Let me reiterate and emphasize that from my discussions I am left to conclude that the Board appears to have transposed their responsibilities to those of their administrative employees. From my perspective it is imperative that the Board begin to provide direction and vision in the areas I outlined in my open letter, which included:
- It is necessary that the Boards and their respective Review Committees avail themselves of current short and medium term development plans of the affected municipalities. I am aware that a number of municipalities involved have growth and development plans and forecasts that likely are more current than the data that was reviewed.
- There needs to be a careful examination and consideration of the concentration of curriculum into fewer schools that has resulted in the busing of students over long distances to ‘specialized’ schools resulting in, and exasperating, the underutilization and occupancy of rural schools. Greater consideration towards the reallocation of programming to reduce travel and facilitate student retention in community schools need examination.
- The public and separate school board ought to be considering and negotiating space sharing arrangements that would allow small and rural communities to retain a local school within their community. I would add that it is imperative that space sharing agreements with community groups could provide an additional revenue stream for our community schools, including youth and/or seniors programs.
- The boards need to do a better job of ensuring that parents with children in their schools are aware that they have the ability and right to bring their concerns with this and any other education matters directly to the Board; what that process is, when those opportunities are available, and how to go about doing it. Further, they ought to be encouraged and welcomed to do so.
I remain optimistic that these efforts, if undertaken, would alleviate some of the pressures currently being felt by both our school boards and community schools.