QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario – MPP Jim McDonell introduced a motion in the Legislature today calling upon the Minister of Education to suspend all Pupil Accommodation Reviews taking place across the province, and to sit down with communities and school boards to hammer out a long-term funding and infrastructure management strategy for rural schools, to help preserve rural students’ right to access local public education in their home communities.
“The government’s current approach forces school boards into a pattern of over-crowding and closures, which is totally unacceptable as it doesn’t just encourage, it imposes reckless decision-making on cashstrapped boards” said MPP Jim McDonell. “Funding for rural school boards has been cut while they face increasing challenges due to maintenance, escalating hydro costs, enrolment and competition. Moreover, boards such as the UCDSB have to fulfil their mandate to provide public education to all students, regardless of the cost – the only Board with an obligation to do so. The Ministry of Education must stop offloading the Government’s mismanagement and waste on our children. They should instead take charge by engaging all rural school boards, school communities and municipalities in the development of a sustainable rural education strategy. While this happens, any accommodation reviews being conducted under today’s flawed guidelines must be put on hold”.
A petition to save rural schools in Eastern Ontario is available at www.jimmcdonellmpp.ca/petitions and at the constituency office at 120 Second St West, Cornwall, ON K6J 1G5.
The motion reads as follows: That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should place a moratorium on rural school closures and suspend Pupil Accommodation Reviews until it has developed a long term plan for rural education by consulting with all local rural school boards, school communities, students, and municipalities and that it considers the value of local education, ensures students receive a quality education that includes access to important extra-curricular activities and after school employment, and that it establishes a stable, sustainable funding formula for rural areas.