Ministry Receives Report From Independent Facilitator

Archived Release

Ministry Receives Report From Independent Facilitator

Ministry of Education

Report Finds Simcoe County DSB Acted In Good Faith Regarding School Review BARRIE, ON, Sept. 13 - The Ministry of Education accepts the report of the independent facilitator regarding King Edward Public School, Education Minister Sandra Pupatello announced today. Parents and residents of Barrie requested an independent review of the process undertaken by Simcoe County District School Board in deciding to close King Edward Public School. In response to this request, the Ministry of Education appointed Dave Cooke as independent facilitator to lead the review. Cooke determined that the board did follow its board-approved accommodation review policy as well as the intent of the McGuinty government's Good Places to Learn initiative. Cooke made recommendations for the board to improve its accommodation review process, but also determined that the outcome of the review of King Edward would not have changed under a different process. "Our government recognizes that the debate about the future of King Edward School has been a challenging one for the Allandale community," said Minister Pupatello. "Even though disagreements remain and recommendations have been made, I accept Mr. Cooke's findings that the board did consult with the public to consider the best interests of the students and the school's value to the community." In his report, Cooke found that several factors related to the learning environment for students led to the decision to close the school. These factors included: the school's poor condition; the cost of renovating the school to today's standards; its lack of accessibility to disabled students, staff and parents; available space in schools within walking distance; and the better conditions at neighbouring schools. King Edward was built in 1906, with additions in 1952 and 1959. "While timelines, communication and consultation methods will need to be revised, I believe that the board did act in good faith," said Cooke. "An improved review process would have led to the same decision, but with better community support and understanding." The McGuinty government's Good Places to Learn initiative, announced in February 2005, encourages school boards to consult with their local communities on school accommodation plans and to focus consultation on the value of the school to students and the community. Cooke made several recommendations for the board to modify its accommodation review process to better reflect Good Places to Learn. The recommendations are intended to improve the clarity and transparency of roles and procedures, and to create a debate based on trust and understanding. Both the board and the Ministry will consider the recommendations in the development of future accommodation review guidelines and procedures. "I want to thank everyone for co-operating with Mr. Cooke in this review," said Pupatello. "Your impassioned commitment is a tremendous foundation for improved achievement for students in Allandale and the city of Barrie." Cooke, a former Minister of Education, interviewed school board officials, trustees, members of the task force, including teaching staff and school leadership, union leadership, parents and community members. Cooke also visited the school and examined the documents related to the accommodation review. To access the facilitator's full report, visit the ministry's website at www.edu.gov.on.ca and click on News. Disponible en français www.edu.gov.on.ca www.ontario.ca/progress Contact Info For further information: Valérie Poulin, Minister's Office, (416) 325-2632; Tanya Blazina, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2746; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892 HELP | CONTACT US | PRIVACY | IMPORTANT NOTICES © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008-2009 — Last Modified: February 15, 2009 For further information: Valérie Poulin, Minister's Office, (416) 325-2632; Tanya Blazina, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2746; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892