MacDon­ald pushes for­ward with school board merger vi­sion

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff two pub­lic boards, each ded­i­cated to one of the of­fi­cial lan­guages. Both Mr. Dana­her and Mr.

Stor­mont- Dun­das- Glen­garry War­den Jamie MacDon­ald hopes to meet with On­tario’s Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion next month to dis­cuss a new vi­sion for ed­u­ca­tion in East­ern On­tario.

Dur­ing his in­au­gu­ra­tion speech as war­den late last year, Mr. MacDon­ald lam­basted the sta­tus quo, where four dif­fer­ent school boards op­er­ate in the area, de­cry­ing it as im­prac­ti­cal and un­sus­tain­able. He has since put to­gether a fo­cus group – which also con­sists of South Glen­garry Coun­cil­lor Stephanie Ja­worski, North Glen­garry Coun­cil­lor Jeff Man­ley, South Stor­mont Coun­cil­lor Jen­nifer MacIs­sac, and for­mer Save Our Schools mem­ber David Fil­ion – to dis­cuss the mat­ter and, in the words of Mr. MacDon­ald, “pro­vide a road map for a dif­fer­ent style of what ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion would look like.”

The war­den wants one all-en­com­pass­ing school board with English and French streams or

School board per­spec­tive

Todd Lalonde, Chair­man of the Catholic Dis­trict School Board of East­ern On­tario, says it’s dis­ap­point­ing that the war­den would make com­ments on ed­u­ca­tion and that he should have reached out to stake­hold­ers, like his board, to get some in­put.

“The sys­tem right now works,” in­sists Mr. Lalonde, who rep­re­sents Glen­garry and Corn­wall. “I hope there’s no false in­for­ma­tion put out to the pub­lic re­gard­ing big time sav­ings if you merge school boards be­cause it’s been proven that’s not the case.”

Mr. Lalonde points out that the Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board has 25,000 stu­dents while his board has 15,000.

“Even if you merge the boards, you still need to house them, pay for trans­porta­tion and pay the teach­ers.”

But John Dana­her, Glen­garry’s trustee with the Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board, wasn’t nearly as crit­i­cal as Mr. Lalonde.

“I be­lieve Mr. MacDon­ald has ev­ery right as a com­mu­nity mem­ber, mayor, and war­den to look at this sit­u­a­tion to see if there’s enough mo­men­tum to bring it to the min­istry,” said Mr. Dana­her, a re­tired ed­u­ca­tor who served, at times, as prin­ci­pal of Glen­garry Dis­trict and Char-Lan high schools. “He will likely get some sup­port in the com­mu­nity. There’s a lot of peo­ple who sup­port how he feels.”

Not enough

School board chairs have dif­fer­ent takes on amal­ga­ma­tion pro­posal.

Lalonde say they’re will­ing to work to­gether to stream­line ef­fi­cien­cies. One ex­am­ple is Stu­dent Trans­porta­tion of East­ern On­tario (STEO) – a con­sor­tium put to­gether by the two boards to trans­port stu­dents to and from school.

But Mr. MacDon­ald doesn’t be­lieve that find­ing ef­fi­cien­cies is enough to solve the prob­lem. When asked about a po­ten­tial com­pro­mise, a forced amal­ga­ma­tion be­tween STEO and its fran­co­phone coun­ter­part, he says that doesn’t take things far enough.

“Fix­ing the bus­ing sit­u­a­tion is a big part of the fi­nan­cial pack­age but we still have half-full schools,” he says. “Right now, with larger class sizes, we’re not go­ing to get the pro­gram­ming we can get. It’s just more nails in the cof­fin un­less we do some­thing now.”

The con­sti­tu­tion

Mr. Lalonde, who says that part of his man­date is to pro­tect Catholic ed­u­ca­tion, points out that the con­sti­tu­tion pro­tects Catholic schools. In­deed, sec­tion 93 of the Con­sti­tu­tion Act, states, “Nothing in any such Law shall prej­u­di­cially af­fect any Right or Priv­i­lege with re­spect to De­nom­i­na­tional Schools which any Class of Per­sons have by Law in the Province at the Union” and that “All the Pow­ers, Priv­i­leges, and Du­ties at the Union by Law con­ferred and im­posed in Up­per Canada on the Sep­a­rate Schools and School Trustees of the Queen’s Ro­man Catholic Sub­jects shall be and the same are hereby ex­tended to the Dis­sentient Schools of the Queen’s Protes­tant and Ro­man Catholic Sub­jects in Que­bec.”

How­ever, Mr. MacDon­ald seemed rel­a­tively un­fazed by this. He pointed out that Catholic boards have been chal­lenged in other prov­inces (New­found­land, for ex­am­ple) and that “I would think the same would hap­pen here.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.