Editorial – A plan for all SDG?

The pandemic is already stressing out parents of school-aged children beyond what anyone imagined. If parents needed something more to be concerned about, we have something for you. How about bringing back the school closure issue?

While Upper Canada District School Board chair John McAllister often repeats that the board has no plan to close schools, SDG Counties has a committee working on its plan for schools, and there are many issues. These issues boiled to the surface at the November 16th Counties Council meeting, when the gulf between the two halves of council widened.

There is a committee for SDG but there is also a committee for North Glengarry and South Glengarry, which have a plan called the “Glengarry Plan.” No one outside of select representatives from Glengarry, and the Ministry of Education, know what is in that plan. Why? Good question. But this plan has already been presented to the Ministry of Education before the SDG plan is ready.

Councillor Jamie MacDonald (North Glengarry) alluded to not wanting to alarm residents at what schools were being looked at. But when one council or group of councils within SDG are already working on their own plan, while also spearheading a County plan, how do we know whose interests are being looked after? We don’t, and that is worrying.

Adding confusion into the education plan debacle is we don’t know what direction is being taken and who is privy to said plan. Was it asked for by the local MPP or the Minister of Education? Is this SDG plan suppose to fix our rural issues, or be a pilot project for the Ministry of Education? According to MacDonald, the answer is yes to all of the above.

Clearly there are competing interests and protectionism involved here. Just as clear, there is a lack of cooperation, sharing information, and guidance. Simply put, leadership at Counties Council is sorely lacking on the education front.

The worrying part for parents is being left to twist in the wind again. Now, instead of it being the province dictating policy, SDG is sticking its oar in and proving themselves unable to work together to create a cohesive plan.

We commend SDG for trying to steer the rural education file into something that keeps all our schools open. But that only works when everyone in the boat is rowing in the same direction. Unless the split council can start rowing together, the education file will be sunk.

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