The following is an open letter to Jeff McMillan, Chair of the Board and Board Trustees Upper Canada District School Board from Benson Public School parent Donna Gladstone.
As a parent of a child affected by the recent decision to close rural schools as set out in the Building for the Future Pupil Accommodation Review, and the Board’s approval to begin the review at the September 28th Board Meeting I have a question!
I would like to ask you, as the Chair of the Board and all the Trustees, when and if you have scheduled a bus trip to visit each of the 29 schools listed on the closure list and, the communities in which the schools are located. If you have not done your due diligence as Elected Trustees, in scheduling these visits I would as a constituent, parent and community member encourage you to do so.
Taking the time to travel on a school bus from school to school and community to community would give each of you a better idea of the distance our children would potentially be travelling each day to school, based on the recommendations set out in the staff report.
A tour of each school that has been recommended for closure and the communities in which they are home to would also enable each trustee to understand the dynamics of the communities the school buildings and the atmosphere of the students and the pride they have in “their” school. The bus trip and tour may also give each Trustee time to ask their own questions and be open minded to the concerns of each community.
As elected members – and many of you parents – I am sure you would want to ensure you are making an informed decision when it comes to the future of our most vulnerable our children! Decision making is easy when decisions are made from pages of a report.
Decision making is most effective when you take the time to represent the constituents you committed to- representing and by doing that means taking the time to travel, to observe and to ask new questions.
Is is very sad to think that we as a society have put the almighty dollar ahead of what is really important, Our Children’s Education. Everything comes down to dollars and cents – schools are no longer based on education. Schools are now looked at as money pits and when no money is put into them you cannot expect them to stay strong!
These children are our future doctors, lawyers, educators, Prime Ministers and yes, our school board trustees.
Instead of closing schools it is time to stand up and think outside the box, demand the province come up with a better system of funding education. Please take MPP Steve Clark up on his offer to take it to the provincial legislature.
This is only the beginning — If we allow rural schools to be closed down we are setting ourselves up for no public school system. Is that what we really want?
Schools were built to educate our children! It is time for you to set the example show our children their education matters and so do they!
I look forward to your response to this letter.
Benson Public School Parent