CORNWALL, Ontario – Students, parents and community members from Char-Lan and Glengarry District High School gathered outside of the old General Vanier School on Friday, Oct. 21 to protest a Upper Canada School Board (UCDSB) report that called for their schools to close.
The protest occurred during a meeting that was taking place at General Vanier between the UCDSB and representatives from local municipalities.
The meeting was however, closed to the media, and not all community representatives were allowed in either.
Martin Lang of the Glengarry Federation of Agriculture felt that groups like his should have been included in the Board’s community consultation.
“We are a community partner,” he said. “We represent close to 500 farm families. We have kids in these schools, we went to these schools, we have friends who teach at these schools, now they’re being asked to go to the city.”
Lang went on to explain that closing rural schools will do damage to their local economies.
“Being further away means more travel time,” he said. “More travel time for these kids means less time they can help their families on the farm in the mornings and at night, and less time for them to do their homework.”
Many parents and students at the protest from Glengarry District High School were carrying signs from the Glengarry SOS group, which says its takes a boarder approach to these proposed school closures.
“Alexandria is a town and if you start taking away central pieces of infrastructure like schools, pretty soon you start losing other things like hospitals,” Scott Campbell, one of the members of Glengarry SOS. “Losing places like schools means that you start losing the vitality of these rural towns and eventually, the town dies.”
Seaway News attempted to enter the meeting to ask the school board and municipal leaders questions on the topics they were covering, but were not allowed entry.
“This is a private meeting between staffs,” said a UCDSB representative.