School boards do cooperate
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