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Ontario: School boards call on Ford government to end ban on merging and closing schools

by The Canadian Parvasi

Centre Court Developments

After nearly six years of a ban prohibiting school boards from merging or closing schools, school boards across the province are calling on the Ford Government to lift the ban instated by the then-premier Kathleen Wynne of the liberal provincial government.

“We believe this isn’t fiscally responsible if you have a school that should have 600 kids in it, and it has 100 kids in it…I don’t believe it was ever intended to last for six years…As a result of it going on for so long, all of the problems that we had in 2017 with low-enrolment schools have only been exacerbated,” stated Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association, which represents 31 English-language public school boards with more than 1.3 million students across the province of Ontario.

School board trustees are often subjected to the decisions of closing and/or merging schools due to the drop in enrollment numbers attributed to the changing demographics.

“We need an opportunity to have those conversations…This is our role as the locally elected school board trustees,” the Ontario Public School Boards Association stated further.

As of now, the Ford-led progressive government has shown no signs of wishing to lift the ban instated by the previous Ontario government.

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“We are not closing schools…Our government is delivering $14 billion to upgrade existing schools and build new state-of-the-art schools across Ontario with a focus on STEM learning, improved accessibility, and technology,” detailed a statement shared to media outlets by Grace Lee, Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s press secretary.

At present, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has put forth the request for mergers of 27 schools under the district school board, 17 of which are elementary and 10 of which are secondary schools, due to them being at or over capacity.

According to Rachel Chernos Lin, the president of the school board, the merger can’t begin unless the ban instated by the province is lifted.

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