Was the Upper Canada District School Board being facetious when it named its closure plan Building for the Future?
The board’s senior staff (its superintendents) are choosing to close Seaway District High School and shuffle its students off to other struggling high schools more than 30 kilometers away.
It is no longer important to ask why. What is important now is to find a way to convince the school board trustees that Seaway is the wrong choice and to argue that it’s more important to save Seaway than some other struggling high school.
Although we hate the idea of shifting this fate to some other school, there really isn’t another option, and the powers that be, know it.
While the trustees have been sitting at our school council meetings, looking us all in the eye and telling us that this is not a done deal, the evidence suggests otherwise.
They are all too happy to tell you that saving a school is possible, as it has been done in the past.
What they are not telling you is that board officials, who were part of that past experience, learned from it.
While we were happily getting our kids back into the school routine, they have been focused on the task at hand, which is paring down their budget to meet government constraints.
While we were worried about adjusting to new teachers, classmates and settling into routines, they knew that they were about to blow all of that to pieces.
Through the last round of school closures, they learned how to get undesirable, community-destroying closures completed through the path of least resistance.
While school families across much of rural eastern Ontario are trying to figure out how to effectively stand up for themselves, school board officials arrived at the conversation holding all the cards.
They know the rules. They know how to play the game, and they have stacked the deck in their favour.
They know how to get what they want done.
Although the process is provincially mandated, being governed by funding cuts, it is the UCDSB that has decided to play the game this way.
The board decided to move this process along, at this point in time, at breakneck speed.
The public feedback process is being highly managed from beginning to end.
We are being told to write letters and direct them to specific emails, thus avoiding the messiness of seeing the human cost of all of this face to face.
We are being told that we can only have limited and specific representation through accommodation review committees.
Our municipal officials are being directed to specific meetings and told their participation is as observers only.
When did we lose our right to have a say in our own future and our own existence?
Why are we taking this sitting down?
Stand up for Seaway.
Stand up for our community schools.
Stand up for rural Ontario.