More say in rural school advocacy campaign
BY TARA MACDONALD
Staff Local schools advocate Stephanie Jaworski and South Glengarry Councillor Trevor Bougie have been appointed to the Executive Committee of the Community Schools Alliance (CSA).
They were signed in at the CSA’s Annual General Meeting, held in conjunction with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario's (AMO) meetings in Ottawa which began August 19 and runs until today.
The CSA is a province-wide municipal advocacy group that works to build partnerships between school boards and municipal governments. CSA membership is open to all municipalities in Ontario as well as interested individuals and community organizations. Founded in 2009, the CSA currently boasts 38 member municipalities.
South Glengarry joined the CSA in 2017 during the Save Char-Lan campaign as a way to propel the influence of municipal governments to have more say in the fate of schools.
“The CSA has been a key voice in the efforts to have municipalities play a role in school infrastructure decisions and in advocating for the unique value of schools to rural and Northern communities,” said Ms. Jaworski.
Sally Phypers, Chair of Save Char-Lan committee, agrees. “They are an effective advocacy group that have the ear of the Ministry of Education and have the set-up that they can help make policy change recommendations which is effectively what we need to do,” she said.
Ms. Phypers along with Ms. Jaworski who is Vice Chair of the Save Char-Lan Committee approached the Township of South Glengarry and connected with CSA Vice Chair Marcus Ryan early on in the campaign to save rural schools.
“At the time, the CSA had very little representation in rural Ontario which is where most of the negative changes and school closures were taking place,” said Ms. Phypers. “One of the things we noticed when we looked at the Pupil Accommodation Review, was that there was absolutely no dialogue between the township and the school board,” she continued. “Obviously it’s important that we have dialogue there because schools are an integral part of communities, so the townships and the school boards need to be talking to each other and respecting each other’s needs.”
As a testament to the CSA’s input and commitment to protecting and enhancing rural education, they were invited by the Minister of Education to be part of a reference group to provide feedback on the most recent revisions to the Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines as well as the Community Partnership and Planning Guidelines announced in late 2017.
These guidelines will play a crucial role in determining the status of the current school closure moratorium. The CSA will also continue to advocate for increases in the $20 million Rural and Northern Education Fund. Looking further ahead, the CSA has also sponsored research into the impact of school closures in Ontario and expects progress reports on that over this next term.
While Char-Lan High School escaped the chopping block for the next five years, its continuance is dependent on maintaining enrolment. Schools must also meet the demands of submitting a Pupil Accommodation Review which addresses the impact on student programming, student well-being, school board resources, the community and economy.
While there is no date set for the next Pupil Accommodation Review, it’s important for area schools to remain vigilant in collecting relevant data and preparing for the review process. “This is why I want to be on the CSA,” said Ms. Jaworski. “I want the funding and policy model around this to change to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. Our schools need to be protected.”
“It’s great news for the CSA to have Stephanie as a new Executive Member,” said CSA Vice Chair Marcus Ryan. “When you can add someone who has first-hand local experience, and is willing to try to turn that into better policy, and most of all when they’re willing to do the hard work, it’s a big advantage for the work the CSA is doing fighting for rural schools.”
“I’m very excited to have been appointed to the Community Schools Alliance Executive Committee,” said Ms. Jaworski. “The Executive Committee is the driving force behind the CSA’s work and I want to contribute to that work as well as advocate for the unique needs of Eastern Ontario, and our township in par-
ticular. Our rural and agricultural setting, coupled with a high proportion of bilingualism, is unique.”
South Glengarry Councillor Trevor Bougie, who was also elected as a CSA committee member, knows the value of protecting local schools. A teacher at Bishop Macdonell primary school in Cornwall, Mr. Bougie was in- volved at the council level to ensure that the Save Char-Lan committee obtained the funding and support it needed to launch a successful campaign.
Some of the best
“I feel strongly about being part of the CSA and working as a team to ensure our local schools are looked after,” said Mr. Bougie. “Our local schools are some of the strongest in the province and the statistics speak for themselves. I look forward to working with the members of the CSA and our local MPPs to ensure our community can continue to thrive.”
Ms. Jaworski was vice-chair of the Save Char-Lan campaign and remains an active participant in the Williamstown Public and Char-Lan District High School councils. A member of the Upper Canada District Parent Involvement Committee, she is seeking election as councillor in the October 22 South Glengarry municipal election.
For more information about the CSA and South Glengarry’s involvement, contact Ms. Jaworski at (613) 361-2232.
Two South Glengarry representatives on provincial coalition
for the Art group, ping-pong and euchre card nights as soon as they are established for September.
CSA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Left to Right: Alan Barfoot, Mayor Georgian Bluffs; Jim Collard, (CSA Secretary-Treasurer) Councillor Niagara-on-the-Lake; Stephen Harvey, Councillor Middlesex Centre; Doug Reycraft (CSA Chair), Southwest Middlesex; Marcus Ryan (CSA Vice Chair), Councillor Zorra; Stephanie Jaworski, South Glengarry; Denis Doyle, Mayor Frontenac Islands; Carol Lowery, Councillor Temagami; Absent: Patricia Greig, Deputy Mayor Northern Bruce Peninsula and Trevor Bougie, Councillor South Glengarry