At an interesting Oxford council meeting this morning where councillors reviewed a request from the Community Schools Alliance, a group of municipal politicians lobbying the province to change the way school boards close schools. Related S-R article here once published. The letter is here, and the draft letter to MPPs is here.
Oxford has a few municipalities, at least, who’ve voted to formally become members of the alliance, and many of the county pols at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference attended its ‘inaugural’ meeting in Ottawa in mid-August. The alliance itself has met with Education Minister Kathleen Wynne once or twice to present its requests, and walked away with a draft policy on ‘encouraging facility partnerships.’
Council, rather than just rubber stamp the alliance’s request and fill in the attached form letter for MPP Ernie Hardeman, has chosen to invite alliance chair and Southwest Middlesex Mayor Doug Reycraft to come to a future meeting and make a presentation.
Kudos to council for doing this— the alliance’s request for a “smart” moratorium is one deserving of a fulsome explanation as is the way municipalities have been involved in our local school accommodation reviews.
The Township of Norwich was involved in the Norwich District High School review, but other than assisting a school-based group opposed to closure with information, it didn’t come to the table with tangible assets or offers.
The Township of Blandford-Blenheim didn’t contribute much of anything to the review that will see Blenheim District Public School open in January in Drumbo.
The Township of South-West Oxford was quite active in the Sweaburg Public School review, coming in at the 10th hour with a community survey and willingness to dedicate property tax dollars to keep the school open. The decision wasn’t in its favour, but residents are now asking the township to purchase the school building and property for community use.
There are two reviews currently underway in Woodstock and Ingersoll / Beachville and another about to begin in Norwich. There are municipal reps on both reviews— it would be great if they were present when Reycraft comes to speak at Oxford council, since their municipalities were the ones who built many of the schools now being considered for closure.