Moratorium comes after final bell has rung for local schools

   Eight months after he stood in the Legislative Assembly and called for a moratorium on school closures, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark expressed mixed emotions today that the Wynne government has finally taken action.
“The Minister of Education today admitted that parents, municipal leaders and I were right – the existing accommodation review process is a disaster that ignored school communities,” said Clark. “While I welcome the moratorium on future school closures until a review is complete, we’ve paid a heavy price for her failure to show leadership earlier. It’s too late for the communities in Leeds-Grenville devastated when Upper Canada District School Board trustees voted to shutter seven schools in the riding.”
Although, Ministry of Education staff indicated the moratorium does not apply to decisions previously made by boards, Clark urged the Upper Canada board to review the fate of at least some schools targeted for closure.
“Many closures won’t happen for a year or more from now, so I believe this provides an opportunity to reconsider them under whatever new guidelines are developed during the ministry’s review process,” stressed Clark.
Clark praised those who fought valiantly to keep their schools open and preserve an opportunity for future generations of students to learn closer to where they live.
“I can’t say enough about the passion they have for the value of rural education and the innovative ideas they presented to the board,” said Clark. “However, as I warned the minister from the start of the Accommodation Review process, the deck was stacked against them. I’m just so disheartened that the outcome could have been different if the minister had only listened to me eight months ago.”
Clark pledged to continue holding the Wynne government to account by ensuring the review leads to the reinstatement of funding for rural schools cut by the government and ensuring community impact is considered before a board can shut down schools.
“I’m skeptical we’ve actually seen a change of heart today from a government that has closed over 700 schools since 2004,” said Clark. “Their actions clearly demonstrate that rural Ontario is just an afterthought to them and I suspect today’s announcement is motivated by next June’s election rather than a true commitment to rural education.”

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