MPP CLARK CALLS FOR MORATORIUM ON SCHOOL CLOSURES
FAIR PROCESS NEEDED TO DETERMINE FUTURE OF RURAL EDUCATION
(QUEEN'S PARK) - In a Member's Statement today, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark called for a moratorium on school closures and the restoration of top-up funding eliminated by the Wynne government - a move that has put hundreds of rural schools across Ontario on the chopping block.
Clark's statement came after he formally made the requests in an open letter to Education Minister Mitzie Hunter last week.
"This is not just about saving individual schools," Clark told the Legislative Assembly. "It's a fight for the future of rural education and the ability for students to learn close to where they live."
Clark said there is a need for a discussion of the issue in an era of declining enrolment.
"But we demand a fair process. Let's take the target off schools and work with parents, boards, municipalities and MPPs from all parties to develop a long-term solution," stressed Clark.
"If this government chooses to sit back and allow these schools to close, it will be too late. Speaker, if they value rural education, they must act now. Thousands of parents and students await a response."
In addition to writing Hunter last week, Clark sent Upper Canada District School Board Chairman Jeff McMillan an open letter asking trustees to pass a resolution of support for a moratorium and restoration of funding.
"I've also asked the board to put its own accommodation review on hold while I, and my colleagues in the Ontario PC Caucus, put the pressure on the government to come up with answers that respect the future of our rural communities," said Clark.
"We can't make these important decisions based on initial reports that include no consultation with the communities affected and the only recommendations being widespread school closures."
Ten of the 29 schools identified for closure by the Upper Canada board are located in Leeds-Grenville.