Liberal MPP visits area as part of tour regarding province’s rural education strategy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Declining enrollment, with a specific focus being on rural communities, was part of a meeting held last Tuesday night.

The meeting, held at the K of C Hall in Amherstburg, focused on the development of a rural education strategy with the meeting being run by Lou Rinaldi. Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland Quinte-West and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, is touring the province with some of his colleagues gathering input on the matter.

“We’re doing some consultation on school board accommodation,” said Rinaldi, noting they are talking to community leaders, trustees and parents. “We’ve done ten rural and northern communities.”

Rinaldi said there have been a lot of common themes mentioned at such sessions like the one in Amherstburg, including a lack of communication between school boards and municipal leaders to address the issues of low enrollment. Another theme Rinaldi said was common is a lack of communication with parents.

Lou Rinaldi. Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland Quinte-West  (Photo courtesy of Ontario Legislative Assembly)

Lou Rinaldi. Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland Quinte-West (Photo courtesy of Ontario Legislative Assembly)

There has been some feeling that the province should give boards more money to help school boards with declining enrollment but Rinaldi said there are other questions including “how do we fund them and what is the right mix?”

Rinaldi said there are “way too many” schools with too few students and the tour is to address issues and hear others from people and communities experiencing such issues.

“How do we address this?” said Rinaldi, with the province looking for suggestions to answer that question.

The province is also seeking input through an online survey found at www.ontario.ca/form/survey-ontarios-rural-education-strategy. Rinaldi said a report should be coming out from the province by the end of June.

“People have an opportunity on the Ministry of Education’s website to give input,” he said.

Rinaldi said school closures are not easy decisions and acknowledged their importance to communities. He said the goal is to make schools accessible for every child in Ontario and get them ready for the 21st Century regardless of where they live.

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