There is no conversation to be had with the BWDSB, it’s a one-way street: they are the dictators and we are the dictated to. I realize we still vote for our school trustee, but our representative is so easily voted down by the remaining board members that there is no effective representation. Instead, we see trustees protecting their turf, trying to save the schools in their area while voting to close schools in other ridings.
The Save OSCVI group had asked for a public meeting to better understand the changes happening in Owen Sound. As a parent of two school-aged children, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask what the future holds. Our area trustee, Marg Gaviller when speaking with a member of our group, said that such a meeting would be “useful”, but at that point [Chairman Ron] Motz had already declined the meeting without the courtesy of consulting our representative or gaining her approval.
As described in the Sun Times, Ron Motz, Chair of the board, felt, “…it would not have been practical and there would have been no advantage to doing so.” No advantage to whom? It’s clear and always has been, how little concern Mr. Motz shows for the Owen Sound community: its students and citizens. We’ve been told to ask our questions directly to trustees, yet response back is limited to non-existent.
I can only commiserate with Grey Highlands Mayor McQueen as reported in the Sun Times on Monday. We too have found Mr. Motz’s comments “inappropriate and condescending”. We were also shocked how little time and consideration is given to municipalities and how they’re expected to know the detailed workings of the board. What are our trustees doing when they should be working with municipalities before these decisions become done deals? Mayor McQueen was told to read the Watson report. Of course, this didn’t help us in Owen Sound as consolidating OSCVI and West Hill was not part of the plan. Surprise!
School closings are difficult decisions and cut right at the heart of communities. A little “bedside manner” would go a long way to healing those wounds. Instead, this board continues to pour salt. As everyone was excited for the first day of school and the year ahead, three schools heard they would be closed. The first day of school; could you pick a worse time to make that announcement? Does this board have no empathy for the people it affects?
I was more than a little shocked to read in the Hanover Post that the board has called a public meeting in Hanover, to discuss the design of the new school. So it is practical, when it suits the board. Is this because it’s in Ron Motz’s riding? Or because there’s an advantage for the Board to do so?
This Board is so disconnected from the very people it serves, it should be done away with. If there is no democracy in school boards, if we’re going to be dictated to by the province, why are we still pretending? Afterall, look at the money we could save.
Published in the Owen Sound Sun Times September 27, 2016
Dear Trustees, Owen Sound City Council; BWDSB; Larry Miller, MP; Bill Walker, MPP
The decision being made Tuesday April 19th, will change the face of education in the Owen Sound area for at least the next 20 years. The board has recognized the minimum times necessary for an ARC review, but the final proposal has only been on the table since March 1st. That is less than two months to co-ordinate with municipalities and communicate with partners.
The final plan is to have one high school at West Hill over-capacity with a plan to build a new high school, site yet to be determined. The second part of that plan is to make OSCVI an elementary school and renovate it as such.
There are many points of the plan that I don’t believe have been discussed in full with the community or with municipal partners as per board policies.
As published in the Owen Sound Sun Times, April 14, 2016
I must admit to being new to this whole process of ARC reviews, like most parents. The original proposal that came out was for West Hill and OSCVI to become grade 7 to 12 schools. I have one daughter going into grade 7 and one going into grade 9 and the proposal sounded good to me, so I didn’t get involved because, like most parents, I was busy. We did our school tours and I was excited that my daughter chose OSCVI which has so much to offer her in this jewel of a school!
Then the party took a turn, the decision was made to propose one high school, West Hill, and remodel OSCVI for a super-elementary school. This still seemed an unlikely proposal, and like most parents, December is a crazy busy month so I didn’t have time to read further. In the New Year it became clearer that the BWDSB would only be recommending one option, not two. They would no longer recommend the 7-12 option which would keep both high schools open.
I want to take a moment to thank the board and everyone involved in this process. I realize how difficult these choices are and we all want the best for our children. I’m also a chartered accountant, so I definitely understand the pressure of budgets and timetables and deadlines. But we have to remember that it’s not all about the numbers.
Our family moved to this area over 10 years ago for quality of life. We wanted to spend time with our kids, not spend it paying off a million-dollar mortgage in Toronto.
We have two daughters, one finishing grade 6 and the other set to graduate grade 8. We’ve just been through the process of deciding which high school she should attend. Also, we are out of area as we are on the west side of highway 6, instead of the east side.
For the most part, I’ve been happy with their elementary school. I understand how parents are reluctant to send their young kids to high school too early. A few years ago, I probably would’ve had the same response. Now I have a different viewpoint.