Administrative Review Completed About Two Simcoe School Closures
McGuinty Government Accepts Independent Facilitator's Report
Independent facilitator Dave Cooke's report states that Simcoe Country District School Board did follow its locally developed accommodation review processes in closing Prince of Wales Public School in Barrie and Tecumseth North Elementary School in Cookstown.
The Ministry of Education approved the community's requests for administrative reviews of the board's processes in September 2009 and now accepts the facilitator's report.
Cooke, a former Ontario Education Minister, consulted with the local accommodation review committees, the school board and people who participated in the process.
Decisions about student accommodations -- including school closures -- are the responsibility of locally elected school boards. Boards were required to develop accommodation review processes that comply with the government's Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline, which emphasizes consultation, transparency and local accountability. Administrative reviews help communities and boards fulfill those core principles.
- The ministry's Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline mandates minimum timelines for consultation and an evaluation process based on the value of a school to its students and the community.
- The guideline helps direct boards during pupil accommodation reviews, which are required in most circumstances when a school closure is considered.
- All boards were asked to update their policies to reflect the ministry's June 2009 revised guideline.
- The ministry has no authority to overturn school closure decisions or delay their implementation.
- Dave Cooke has performed other independent reviews of school closure processes, providing valuable feedback to school boards, communities and the ministry.
“I want to thank everyone who co-operated with Mr. Cooke in this review. Public education is a partnership between parents and the community. This partnership must be taken seriously and responsibly to ensure the best possible accommodations and programs for its students.”
“I have concluded that the board followed its board-approved accommodation review policy, but the policy needs to be reviewed to make the process more open and transparent. Thanks to the input of everyone who participated in this review, I believe the board will review and make the necessary changes to its policy to better support the school, its students and the community.”