SDG rural education conference set for February

SDG Counties council discussed the February 3, 2022 date for its planned rural education conference. (Supplied/SDG Counties via youtube.com)

CORNWALL – Looking to build on the momentum from releasing and endorsing its report on rural education in November, SDG Counties will hold a rural education conference February 3, 2022.

Hosting some form of a conference to discuss rural education was a next-step goal of the education committee formed by SDG when it commissioned a rural education report earlier this year.

“We need to get this information out and we need to start this conversation,” said Warden Allan Armstrong “We have to remember that it hasn’t been that long, relatively speaking, that education has been publicly funded. I think once every 30 years or so we should be allowed to have a conversation on how that works.”

The report released last month gave 10 recommendations for improving rural education. These include: streamlining the number of school systems in Ontario, harmonizing program options, improving transportation times and internet access, and increasing transparency and public engagement at school boards and with the Ministry of Education.

CAO Tim Simpson told council that SDG Counties, along with the Rural Education Task Force from the Thames Valley District School Board, and the Community Schools Alliance will each present ideas and plans at the symposium. Following a yet-to-be-announced keynote speaker, a discussion round-table with participants of the virtual conference will take place.

“There will be no cost [to attend],” Simpson explained to council. “We want to encourage maximum participation.”

Armstrong stressed that hosting such a conference was a priority considering the importance rural education has been to members of this term of council.

“We identified [education] as one of our top-five priorities back in 2019 and now we’re seeing it through,” he said. “We need to keep moving forward. There is a long conversation to be had and it is something that should go forward beyond this term of council.”

Details for registration for the event will be released after Christmas however Armstrong said he has already been in contact with the chair of the Upper Canada District School Board John McAllister and also members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus about the report and the event.

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