We are addressing this letter to the trustees of the Upper Canada District Board. Our hope and wish is for all trustees supported by the Chair and senior staff to provide the opportunity to revisit the closure of Rothwell-Osnabruck (RO), Ingleside, Ont., and Benson Public School in Cardinal, Ont.
Both of these communities will face a serious loss not having the ability to provide a high school in the case of R-O and a public school in Cardinal. In preparing this letter, the writer is fully aware of similar correspondence being prepared by the Mayor of Edwardsburgh, Cardinal, for delivery to the media surrounding his municipality. Anyone following the results of the PAR review by the UCDSB is probably asking why continue the fight while still attempting to save our schools. The easy answer is the parents and students do not want to have their children taken from their home community. Closing schools located in a community hub tears away a piece of the social fabric and an important pillar of any Community.
In the case of R-O, the following are a few details that flies in the face of the Board’s decision to reduce costs:
- RO is on full municipal services for wastewater and water – similar to Benson Public in Cardinal.
- Utility costs are approximately $75,000 at R-O versus $375,000 at the new designated school.
- Closing R-O based on the final Board report reflects an expense of $430,619.
- From 2011 to 2016, South Stormont has had the most students age 0-14.
- Trustees – you are aware South Stormont was prepared to assist with Capital improvements at R-O to cover construction and equipment for programming such as shops to the upper limit of $700,000.
Minister Hunter’s announcement on June 28, 2017 clearly stated a new funding formula is coming in September. Surely, Trustees, you would want to hear what impact it will have on your ability to provide services, as well as new programming including French Immersion. Trustees, we have the time to stop the process in closing our schools. Some trustees are satisfied the decision to close is responsible. Trustees, we all have second and third sober thoughts. We know you may not want to hear our concerns. However, our parents and families continue to reach out hoping for all of us to find a solution where our schools remain open in September. Our position and the community of Cardinal know if we really wish to hear the voices of these communities a positive solution will be reached in time for the new school year 2017-2018.
The Ontario Government announcement on June 28 did indicate school boards were not obligated to review the current PAR review. Trustees, this same communique outlined how important our schools located in these small villages are vital and need to be preserved. Trustees, reach out to our municipalities and find common interest to save these schools. Trustees, our students will be forever grateful.
In closing, Trustees of the Upper Canada District Board, please hear the voices of our communities and let’s find a partnership favourable to all parties.
Mayor, Township of South Stormont