Re-ex­am­ine process - Aspin

Trustee can­di­date calls for new board to re­visit school clos­ing de­ci­sion

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - Jen­nifer Hamil­ton-mc­cha­rles

The Near North Dis­trict School Board’s de­ci­sion to close Wid­di­field Sec­ondary School lacks trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity and it needs to be brought to the ta­ble for re­con­sid­er­a­tion, says Jay Aspin.

Aspin, a can­di­date run­ning for a trustee po­si­tion with the Near North Dis­trict School Board, is­sued a me­dia state­ment Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment from the board that Wid­di­field will re­main open for at least an­other year.

The board is blam­ing the de­lays on the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

“As a prospec­tive trustee for the Near North Dis­trict School Board, I in­tend to ad­vo­cate that the newly elected board for the com­ing term re­visit the de­ci­sion to close Wid­di­field Sec­ondary School,” Aspin said.

The Near North Dis­trict School Board de­cided not to agree with the Ac­com­mo­da­tion Re­view Com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion to close Chippewa Sec­ondary School and keep Wid­di­field and West Fer­ris In­ter­me­di­ate and Sec­ondary Schools open. In­stead, they agreed to close Wid­di­field.

Wid­di­field was slated to close in June, how­ever the Near North board said Tues­day no de­ci­sions are com­ing out of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion on this mat­ter.

Aspin said there are two fun­da­men­tal facts rel­e­vant to this is­sue which af­fect his po­si­tion.

“The re­cently elected pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion are on record propos­ing re­con­sid­er­a­tion of cur­rent poli­cies rel­a­tive to school clo­sure poli­cies in On­tario,” he said.

“As well, the cur­rent board’s three-to-two de­ci­sion lacks con­fi­dence by both our ed­u­ca­tion com­mu­nity and the pub­lic due to a lack of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity with the process.”

Aspin said re­vis­it­ing this de­ci­sion would go fur­ther than just a “halt” as it would re-ex­am­ine both the process and the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion in its en­tirety.

“I am aware that this po­si­tion is at odds with the rec­om­men­da­tion of the ex­ist­ing board. I am aware and ap­pre­ci­ate how hard they have worked un­der dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances to deal with this chal­lenge,” he said.

“But let’s be to­tally open and hon­est. Un­for­tu­nately, there is a dark cloud hang­ing over this mat­ter which must be di­rectly ad­dressed so that both the pub­lic and the em­ploy­ees of the board have full con­fi­dence in the process and can re­gain the nec­es­sary good will from all in­volved to move for­ward.”

Jay Aspin

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