El­gin County to look at form­ing county school board

Tillsonburg News - - NATIONAL NEWS - Laura BroadLey

el­gin County coun­cil is ask­ing staff to re­port on the cre­ation of a county or re­gional board of ed­u­ca­tion.

heather derks, for­mer chair of the pupil ac­com­mo­da­tion re­view com­mit­tee for sparta el­e­men­tary school, asked county coun­cil­lors Tues­day to have staff look into cre­at­ing a new el­gin County board or re­gional school board.

“i was very pleased with coun­cil’s sup­port, they’ve been ex­tremely sup­port­ive through­out,” derks said in an in­ter­view.

she has been a vo­cal op­po­nent of a de­ci­sion last year by the Thames val­ley district school board to close sparta, spring­field, New sarum, south dorch­ester and west­min­ster el­e­men­tary schools. The plan also in­cluded build­ing new schools in bel­mont and st. Thomas.

el­gin County had its own school sys­tem un­til 1997 when amal­ga­ma­tion took place and the Thames val­ley board was cre­ated to man­age schools in ox­ford, el­gin and mid­dle­sex coun­ties and lon­don.

derks said she and her hus­band con­sid­ered ru­ral schools as a pri­or­ity when they moved to el­gin County in 2009.

derks con­tends the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment might be sup­port­ive of an el­gin County school board be­cause savings could be found in the salaries of school board ex­ec­u­tives, who she said are paid $20,000 to $40,000 more than their county and mu­nic­i­pal coun­ter­parts.

The clos­ing of the ru­ral schools puts pres­sure on the tax base on the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and county, derks said.

“The wide­spread re­moval of four of our com­mu­nity schools by the (el­e­men­tary pupil ac­com­mo­da­tion re­view) has neg­a­tively im­pacted the abil­ity of these oth­er­wise com­plete ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to at­tract the kind of res­i­dents that are will­ing to pay a lit­tle more in prop­erty taxes in re­turn for the ex­cel­lent qual­ity of life our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties of­fer,” derks told coun­cil.

Cen­tral el­gin mayor david marr said to coun­cil the cre­ation of an el­gin County board of ed­u­ca­tion would take a lot of work.

“i fully sup­port that we should at least look at the op­tion of go­ing back to an el­gin County board,” marr said. “i do re­mem­ber those days and i think it did work.”

Cen­tral el­gin deputy mayor sally mar­tyn, a re­tired teacher, told coun­cil she fully sup­ports the idea of an el­gin County board.

“The el­gin board was very fis­cally re­spon­si­ble,” mar­tyn said. “They had a li­brar­ian in ev­ery school, they had a vice-prin­ci­pal in ev­ery school – there are prac­ti­cally none now, they had a mu­sic teacher in ev­ery school and French be­gan in grade 1 for ev­ery stu­dent in el­gin County.”

mar­tyn has voiced her op­po­si­tion to the clos­ing of the el­gin County schools in the past and also of the pupil ac­com­mo­da­tion re­view process.

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