School boards do co­op­er­ate

The Glengarry News - - News - The Glen­garry News

The Ed­i­tor, I am as­sum­ing and hop­ing that the head­line “Ru­ral schools are no longer vi­able” in last week’s edi­tion of was taken out of con­text be­cause such an as­sump­tion is nei­ther help­ful nor fac­tual. How­ever, smaller schools are a re­al­ity in many re­gions of ru­ral On­tario and it is true that a ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion strat­egy is de­sir­able and would be help­ful to as­sist lo­cal boards im­prove stu­dent achieve­ment.

So, what would a suc­cess­ful strat­egy look like? Here are a few con­sid­er­a­tions:

Re­vis­ing the Com­mu­nity Plan­ning and Part­ner­ship Guide­lines (CPPG) would be one good step, with a key role be­ing played at the Coun­ties level for re­gional plan­ning sum­mits.

There is a need for all lo­cal lead­ers in this cor­ner of ru­ral On­tario to de­velop and nur­ture cross-sec­toral re­la­tion­ships among busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion, and mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers. The an­nual Leeds & Grenville Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum is a per­fect model for other com­mu­ni­ties to adopt in this re­gard. This will en­able part­ner­ships, spon­sor­ships, and col­lab­o­ra­tive ven­tures and move us closer to the di­a­logue that we need at this time. I am re­minded of the adage: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go to­gether.”

A re­view of the provin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Fund­ing For­mula to ad­dress long-term multi-year fund­ing to sus­tain such crit­i­cal ar­eas as stu­dent trans­porta­tion and Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion, and to fur­ther en­able col­lab­o­ra­tive ven­tures in th­ese key ar­eas be­tween dif­fer­ent school Boards.

On-go­ing shar­ing of phys­i­cal as­sets be­tween boards so to main­tain pres­ence of school pro­grams in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to the great­est ex­tent pos­si­ble.

I have had fruit­ful dis­cus­sions with you, Mr. Ed­i­tor, War­den Jamie McDon­ald, Coun­cil­lor Jeff Man­ley, Trustee Dana­her, var­i­ous stake­hold­ers, our MPP Jim McDon­nell and Min­is­ter Steve Clark and var­i­ous other lo­cal May­ors, Deputy-May­ors and Coun­cil­lors to dis­cuss the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion in the Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board and in On­tario. I am com­mit­ted to fur­ther­ing those ex­changes of ideas.

There is a false im­pli­ca­tion that the Boards of Ed­u­ca­tion do not co­op­er­ate. I can as­sure you that such is not the case. The UCDSB and the CDSBEO have worked har­mo­niously and co­op­er­a­tively in such ar­eas as the sale and ex­change of prop­er­ties in the Corn­wall area and stu­dent trans­porta­tion (STEO – the Stu­dent Trans­porta­tion Con­sor­tium of Eastern On­tario). In­creas­ing ef­fi­cien­cies will only strengthen that bond. Could more be done with other boards? Most as­suredly, the UCDSB is open to any and all dis­cus­sions.

What ex­cites me the most is that peo­ple are talk­ing about ed­u­ca­tion. If there are si­los at var­i­ous lev­els, let’s tear them down. If there are in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties: let’s build on them. Let us not be dis­tracted from our main task: to serve our stu­dents.

John McAl­lis­ter Trustee and Chair, Up­per Canada

Dis­trict School Board

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