Ontario’s education minister says school boards and municipalities are being reminded they need to consult with each other when it comes to making the decision to close schools.
Mitzie Hunter and her Queen’s Park colleague Bob Chiarelli, the province’s infrastructure minister and MPP for Ottawa West–Nepean, recently sent a letter to Ontario’s “municipal leaders and school board leaders” to reiterate that they should be working together when it comes to making that “difficult” decision.
“That conversation needs to be happening,” Hunter told Alan Neal, host of CBC Ottawa’s All In A Day.
“At the same time, we know that school boards are always thinking about what [they] need to do to provide the best opportunity for our students. Because that’s their responsibility.”
Hunter’s comments come one day after CBC News reported on the situation facing Yarker Family School, a junior kindergarten to Grade 3 school in Yarker, Ont., a small town about 30 kilometres northwest of Kingston.
The school’s student population has shrunk to just 26 children, approximately one-third of the of the school’s capacity. That’s led people throughout Stone Mills Township to worry that shutting down Yarker Family School could trigger a wave of rural school closures.
Yarker’s school is the only one in the township currently under review, but the Limestone District School Board’s long-term pupil accommodation plan recommends reviewing the other four — all of which are under capacity — next year.
“This school has been the heart of our community for over 150 years,” said Jill Kilgour, who moved back home to Yarker three years ago so her children could attend the same schools he did.
“It would really be a shame to see our heart stop beating here.”
‘Shifting demographics’ the new reality
The township’s council hired a consultant to add up what school closures would cost the local economy and its report estimated losses…