CORNWALL, Ontario – At their meeting on Monday, Dec. 21, the United Counties of SD&G agreed with a proposal from CAO Tim Simpson to hire a consultant to develop a report on rural education in the region.
This is the latest step taken by municipal governments in recent years to advocate for rural education. The United Counties has taken this advocacy to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA).
United Counties Council also made rural education a strategic priority in 2019.
Simpson explained that developing a comprehensive document outlining the state of rural education in the region would be key for further advocacy to municipal associations and the province.
“The big element I see is scoping what we’re looking for,” Simpson said. “I’d be looking for input from yourselves and folks in your community that are familiar in this area.”
Council was enthusiastic of the idea, and expressed interest in moving this file forward, which has been an issue for several years, coming to a head in 2016 with the Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) which saw several regional schools slated for closure.
“I think this is the best idea for us to go forward. Having somebody that is not politically involved but can bring us all together. It is one of our top priorities so I hope council supports it,” said Councillor Jamie MacDonald, Mayor of North Glengarry.
Councillor Allan Armstrong, Deputy Mayor of North Dundas, made the point that he did not want to see someone too closely tied to the political apparatus of local school boards.
“It would be nice to consider someone as well who is not a former educator or someone who is not a former sitting member of one of the school boards,” Armstrong said. “It kind of skirts the fine line of repetition. We are looking for a bit of innovation here. We have all indicated we are not happy with the education system we have, without directing that at any particular school board.”
Simpson told Council that should all proceed smoothly, that a report from the consultant should be completed by late spring, early summer.