Editorial: Safe for now. Now what?

As reported last week in The Leader, Upper Canada District School Board schools in South Dundas are safe from closure, for now. The ‘for now’ comes from the recommendations in the final report from UCDSB administration that more time is needed to determine what to do with the schools. This does not mean the schools will be kept status quo forever, or for long. It means there will be more consultation and planning.

While there were nearly 10 years between the “Boundary 20/20” process and the most recent pupil accommodation review, it does not mean we have a 10 year grace period this time around. Our UCDSB schools could be on the chopping block again sooner than we’d like to think.

What does it all mean? It means the groundswell of support of our schools cannot die off just because this battle is over. In the past six months we have seen residents unite in support of our schools, we need that to continue and grow. The Municipality of South Dundas proposed the development of a business incubator and support for developing a high skills major program at Seaway in information technology. There needs to be movement on these proposals immediately.

Throughout the past six months, the community has heard about the planned expansion at Ross Video. Everyone hopes this will be announced soon, and that ground will break on the project. It supports our local economy and businesses, and provides employment opportunities for future graduates of the high skills major program.

There needs to be drive in the community to take the support that has formed for our schools, and channel it into action. That action means more interest in our parent councils, advocacy for programming in our schools, and increased volunteerism in our schools. We must not let the support ebb away.

There will be another round as the board has only cut one quarter of its 10,000 empty spaces. Unless there are changes in provincial funding, there will be more cuts. R-O has been on the block three times. Seaway and Morrisburg cannot have the same fate. Returning to status quo must not be an option for this community. There are more challenges ahead and we need to prepare to keep our South Dundas schools, and make them better.