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Mayor Bancroft won't give-up the fight for R-O

Open Letter from Jim Bancroft, Mayor of South Stormont

Published on July 11, 2017

South Stormont Mayor Jim Bancroft assumed the office of Warden of SD&G on Friday, December 16, 2016 (Marc Benoit/ Seaway News).

We are addressing this letter to the Trustees of the Upper Canada District Board.

Our hope and wish is for all trustees supported by the Chair and senior staff to provide the opportunity to revisit the closure of Rothwell Osnabruck (RO), Ingleside, Ontario and Benson Public School in Cardinal, Ontario.

Both of these communities will face a serious loss not having the ability to provide a High School in the case of RO and a public school in Cardinal. In preparing this letter the writer is fully aware of similar correspondence being prepared by the Mayor of Edwardsburgh Cardinal for delivery to the media surrounding his municipality. Anyone following the results of the PAR review by the UCDSB is probably asking why continue the fight while still attempting to save our schools. The easy answer is the parents and students do not want to have their children taken from their home community. Closing schools located in a community hub tears away a piece of the social fabric and an important pillar of any Community.

In the case of Rothwell Osnabruck the following is a few details that flies in the face of the Boards decision to reduce costs:

- RO is on full municipal services for wastewater and water. Similar to Benson Public in Cardinal.
- Utility costs are approximately $75,000 at RO vs $375,000 at the new designated school.
- Closing RO based on the Final Board report reflects an expense of $430,619.
- From 2011 to 2016 South Stormont has had the most students age 0-14.
- Trustees you are aware South Stormont was prepared to assist with Capital improvements at RO to cover construction and equipment for programming such as shops to the upper limit of $700,000.

Minister Hunter’s announcement on June 28, 2017 clearly stated a new funding formula is coming in September. Surely Trustees you would want to hear what impact it will have on your ability to provide services, as well as new programming including French Immersion. Trustees, we have the time to stop the process in closing our schools. Some Trustees are satisfied the decision to close is responsible. Trustees, we all have second and third sober thoughts. We know you may not want to hear our concerns. However our parents, families continue to reach out hoping for all of us to find a solution where our schools remain open in September 2017. Our position and the community of Cardinal know if we really wish to hear the voices of these communities a positive solution will be reached in time for the new school year 2017-2018.

The Ontario Government announcement on June 28, 2017 did indicate school boards were not obligated to review the current PAR review. Trustees this same communique outlined how important our schools located in these small villages are vital and need to be preserved. Trustees reach out to our municipalities and find common interest to save these schools. Trustees our students will be forever grateful.

In closing Trustees of the Upper Canada District Board, please hear the voices of our communities and let’s find a partnership favourable to all parties.

Jim Bancroft, Mayor
Township of South Stormont