An eye on education
With less than two months to go until the municipal election, things are about to heat up, but I want to bring more attention to a forgotten campaign, and that is the campaign for school trustees.
I had written previously that all trustees in Cornwall were running unopposed, this was before the nomination period had ended, but not that nominations are closed, we still unfortunately will see all of our local trustees acclaimed.
This is not to see that all of our incumbent trustees are unworthy of re- election, but given the seismic changes that took place in the Catholic and public school boards this past term, and looking ahead at what is to come, it is surprising that this trustee election has been so quiet.
The past term saw schools slated for closure, other schools were amalgamated and some properties were traded between the boards. This coming term will see the oldest high school in Ontario, CCVS, close and be merged with St. Lawrence Secondary School into a new superschool that will be completed by 2022.
All of the vigorous public engagement that was seen in 2016 seems to have just evaporated two years later in Cornwall. In the United Counties there are at least three people running for Wendy Macpherson’s old trustee seat. In the Counties we have seen people who were deeply involved in the public boards 2016 restructuring process stay involved to ensure that the voters can weigh- in on their issues.
With such big decisions being made in Cornwall and with more still to come I encourage voters to not forget about their trustee elections. For the public board David Macdonald is running unopposed for reelection, voters should make him aware of the issues that matter to them because after all, it is their tax money.
Four years ago, I was volunteering for a candidate in Ottawa at a polling station as an observer, I was surprised to see how many voters had no idea which school board they paid taxes to and I’m sure that many of them did not know how much they paid every year.
Having covered City Hall in Cornwall for two years, I get the impression that taxes being low and being spent wisely is something that is important to the citizens of this city. My question is however, do most people in Cornwall know which school board they pay taxes to? And, do they know how much they pay in taxes?
The amount that the average homeowner pays every year in taxes is easy to find out, the City of Cornwall has a handy calculator on their website. The average home in Cornwall is valued at roughly $ 166,000 and there for the average taxpayer who owns that home will pay just shy of $ 300 a year to their school board. This education rate is set by the province every year. Currently, 10.5 percent of the total municipal property tax paid in a year goes to the school board.
Readers, what do you think of your local trustees? What would you change about education in Cornwall? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nicholas. seebruch@ tc. tc