Read MPP Hillier's open letter to UCDSB and LDSB regarding the student accommodation review process and elements of his previous discussions with the Board Chair and Director of both Boards.
An Open Letter to the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) and the Limestone District School Board (LDSB)
3 October 2016
Recently I have had conversations with either the Board Chair or Director of each of your organizations, regarding the student accommodation review processes you are both compelled to undergo by mandate of the Ontario Government.
I’d like to take this opportunity to review and make public some elements of our discussions, so that no question may remain of my interest and concerns around this crucial and consequential process, and the decisions that will come as a result. For the record, the following are what I feel, ‘key elements’ to ensuring the process provides the most beneficial outcome for all involved:
• 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 available as this review process was initiated.
• There needs to be a careful examination and consideration of the concentration of curriculum into a few schools that has resulted in the busing of students over long distances to ‘specialized’ schools, and a consideration towards the reallocation of programming to reduce travel and facilitate student retention in community schools.
• 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.
• 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 to do so.
Once again, I’d like to thank both UCDSB and LDSB for providing me the opportunity to express my concerns and offer my advice and recommendations. I look forward to working with both Boards and their Review Committees as we move through this critical and imperative process.