BROCKVILLE – Trustees at the Upper Canada District School Board voted to approve changes to its school closure policy.
The changes, adopted at its January 27 trustee meeting, stripped out many of the Pupil Accommodation Review guidelines from the school closure policy. These include holding public meetings, consultation with the community, and creating a final staff report.
Trustee Donald Cram, who chairs the UCDSB policy review committee, explained that much of what was removed is already covered by the Ministry of Education’s PAR guidelines. The provincial guidelines were updated in 2018 but the board’s were last updated in 2015.
He explained that each time the province updates its policy, the board would have to follow suit and update its policy. The UCDSB school closure policy now references the provincial policy for anything not covered by the board.
“Even though we have no intention to close schools right now, in any of our thoughts, we decided what we’d like to do is take out the accommodation review from the policy,” Cram explained. “And therefore refer [the policy] back to the accommodation review guidelines whenever the Ministry [of Education] publishes them. Anytime a school board reviews or modifies its school closure plan, the proposed changes are made available for public comment. That commenting period was in Fall 2020.
“We did not receive any objections or negative comments about the changes to the school policy,” Cram told the board.
Ontario has had a moratorium on school closures in place since the end of June 2017. The UCDSB last underwent a PAR process in the 2016-17 school year when 29 schools including Seaway District High School and Morrisburg Public School were proposed for closure.
In the end, nine schools were closed or planned to close once expansions or new construction are completed. Benson Public School in Cardinal and the secondary school portion of Rothwell-Osnabruck School in Ingleside were permanently closed in June 2017. North Stormont Public School in Berwick is slated to close once an addition is completed at Roxmore Public School in Avonmore. That move will take place later in 2021.