SDG – Trying to take a new look at rural education and come up with innovative solutions has been the challenge of the education consultant hired by SDG Counties.
Since April 2021 that consultant, Monika Ferenczy with Horizon Educational Consulting, has been working with a County Council committee to create an SDG-made solution. Now the group needs input from families about what they see as issues and priorities for local education in the county.
“The goal is always public engagement,” said SDG County Councillor Kirsten Gardner, who heads up the education committee. “The education of our children is always something that people consider a given and something that most people don’t really think about until there is a threat of a school closure.”
The County faced several prospective school closures during the Upper Canada District School Board accommodation review process in the 2016-17 school year. As a result of that review, North Stormont Public School was consolidated into Roxmore Public School in 2021, and Grade 7-12 students were relocated from Rothwell-Osnabruck School in 2017.
Spurred by the threat of future school closures, SDG council made rural education a priority during this term of council. Warden Allan Armstrong highlighted that priority in a recent interview with The Leader.
“The education issue is huge,” Armstrong said. “Rural schools should not have limitations on what is taught, or what programs are available. Our kids should have every opportunity available.”
As COVID-19 restrictions limit public gatherings that would normally be part of the consultation process, two online surveys have been set up to get feedback from families.
The first focuses on parents, guardians, grandparents and community members. The second is for students currently attending Grade 7-12 schools in SDG County, or recent graduates of a secondary school in SDG.
“This consultation is highlighting the inequities between rural and urban areas and the negative impacts on our children,” Gardner explained. “How education is delivered and the full experience should be consistent across the province of Ontario regardless of where you choose to live.”
Ferenczy is due to deliver a draft plan to council at the end of July, with the final plan to be delivered in August. That plan, if endorsed by council, will be used to lobby upper levels of government about education in SDG.
Adult survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9YD7JZ2
Student survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZD2WMN8