Re­lief, sad­ness

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

A full range of emo­tions was felt last Thursday when the Up­per Canada District School Board voted to close three area English-lan­guage public schools.

S.J. McLeod Public School in Bainsville will be shut and merged with an ex­panded Wil­liamstown P.S. North Stor­mont Public in Ber­wick will be con­sol­i­dated with Rox­more Public in Avon­more while Roth­wellOsnabruck School (se­condary grades 7-12) in In­gle­side will be closed and con­sol­i­dated with Tagwi S.S. in Avon­more.

Glen­garry District High School in Alexan­dria, Char-Lan District High School in Wil­liamstown and Maxville Public will re­main open.

The rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the mea­sures ended six months of un­cer­tainty. Com­mu­ni­ties have been ral­ly­ing to save their schools since a pre­lim­i­nary clo­sure list was ap­proved by the board in Septem­ber.

A staff re­port re­leased Fe­bru­ary 13 called for the re­ten­tion of four of five Glen­garry schools that had been ear­marked for clo­sure in Septem­ber.

Sal­vaging S.J. McLeod had been a long shot; 19 pupils at­tend the school that has space for 187.

At the same time, there is a sense that the school clo­sure de­bate is far from over.

The board un­der­took the study in an ef­fort to deal with 10,000 sur­plus spa­ces which are no longer funded by the prov­ince.

With the clo­sures and con­sol­i­da­tions, the board would fill 2,358 empty seats.

Area res­i­dents had be­come part of a prov­ince-wide cam­paign to save ru­ral schools.

Many point the fin­ger of blame at Queen’s Park.

Said Stor­mont-Dundas-South Glen­garry Con­ser­va­tive MPP Jim McDonell: “I was very dis­ap­pointed to see the de­ci­sion to close R-O se­condary, North Stor­mont Public and SJ McLeod schools. Like the hun­dreds of other clo­sures across the prov­ince, their demise was not a re­sult of poor per­for­mance, but to cuts in ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and changes in reg­u­la­tions put in place by this gov­ern­ment that gave school boards few op­tions. I want to com­mend the par­ents, com­mu­nity lead­ers and the public who stepped up and put in the count­less hours re­quired by this flawed process. This is the sec­ond round of school clo­sures in un­der ten years, and more will come if we don’t re­view how all gov­ern­ment ser­vices are de­liv­ered, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, out­side of the major cen­tres. We de­bated such a mo­tion just a few weeks ago, and while the gov­ern­ment talked of sup­port­ing ru­ral schools, at the end of the de­bate, they voted against them.”

WHEW!: Af­ter six months of angst, most Glen­gar­ri­ans were heav­ing sighs of re­lief last week.

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