London News & Search
County council threw its hat into the mix on Tuesday when it supported a resolution that asked for a retroactive moratorium on school closures in Elgin County.
Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter’s announcement on June 28 that there is now a moratorium on future Pupil Accommodation Review has some parents hopeful that the imminent closures of Sparta Public School, Springfield Public School and New Sarum Public School can be reversed.
Heather Derks, Johnny Wilson and Kate Hurst went before council at its Tuesday meeting to ask for support in their efforts to reverse the decision made in May to close their schools.
“We are here today to call on the council to join with our friends at the Chamber of Commerce, who have issued a statement calling for Thames Valley to overturn the closures of the three rural Elgin County Schools that we represent. And we are here today to ask this council to make a similar resolution asking Thames Valley to overturn the closures of Sparta, New Sarum and Springfield public schools,” Derks said.
Derks said she sees a commitment on the part of the Minister of Education to collaborate better with municipal councils and communities, longer timelines, an overhaul of the funding formula and more impactful communication with parents.
“We feel that the new changes that are coming out, according to the Ministry of Education’s letter, give us the opportunity to do exactly what we wanted to do, which is put our time and energy, in a proactive way, into working together as a community to come up with alternative, viable solutions for our local schools if they’re not functioning in the way that they need to function to be financially responsible,” Derks said.
David Marr, Central Elgin’s mayor, said the timing of the minister’s announcement was “unprecedented.” He said he questions the timing only weeks following the closure of three Elgin County schools.
Dave Mennill, mayor of the Township of Malahide, said he’s trying to get a meeting with the minister to talk about Springfield Public School. He said if the process was flawed going forward then it only makes sense to look back at decisions that were made in the past.
Council’s resolution on Tuesday was in support of MPP Jeff Yurek’s letter urging the Thames Valley District School Board to revisit its decision to close Sparta, Springfield and New Sarum schools. This resolution was similar to one council passed in February calling for a stop to school closures in Elgin County.
London News & Search