Well, the DSBN went ahead and voted to continue funding and readying the new school for “poor” kids in Welland. Called the DSBN Academy (District School Board of Niagara), there are a growing number of voices that are angry about this decision. And, they are angry for a variety of well-founded reasons. Here, for example, are some links to letters to the editor in local Niagara papers.
- Parent Blair Cowan asks why the same types of programs to be offered at the DSBN Academy are not offered in every Niagara school.
- Don MacDougall on why Niagara taxpayers and voters did not know about this school before and during the October 2010 municipal election.
- Barbara and Ed McCarthy on why all the incumbent DSBN trustees who were re-elected should resign for misleading the electorate.
- C. R. Dunton writes that, in spite of the DSBN now claiming that the school was public knowledge, it was not known by most of those running in the Welland municipal election campaign last October — even though the school is to be located in that community.
- A former local trustee candidate, Paulo Miele (but not elected) expressed outrage that the DSBN assumes anyone who doesn’t have a college or university degree “is a loser” — the rationale the board gave for changing the emphasis from “poor” children to children “where no one in the family graduated from college or university.”
- Pat Cusack, of Port Colborne on whether or not anyone thought to ask the children where they might prefer to go to school.
Perhaps, however, the most important letter to the editor is in this week’s Niagara Advance (February 24, 2011, page 7). Not yet available online, it is by Linda Crouch, a DSBN trustee candidate who I got to know during the municipal campaign via e-mail and our blogs. The irony is that had she won (and she came very close), she would not have been able to be so open given Premier Dalton McGuinty’s new rules that trustees cannot speak out against any motion school boards make, once a motion is passed by the board. She writes:
“To quote the June 22, 2010 DSBN Minutes: Trustee [Dalton] Clark reminded the Board that $2.6 million was transferred from the general operating reserves to balance the 2010-2011 budget…and the Board will only be able to transfer funds out of the general operating reserves for another one or one-half years.”
Further, she reminds us what was in a DSBN press release at budget time:
“‘Although Trustees were able to use funds from our reserves to largely offset the costs of the funding shortfall, this practice is not sustainable. Unless a more permanent solution can be found, the Board’s reserves will soon be depleted and Trustees will have to consider even more significant cuts,’ says Finance Committee Chair Dalton Clark.”
So, why on earth is this Ontario school board going to open an alternative school when” (1) they clearly can’t afford it as they are already using general operating reserve funds; and (2) the building where they are going to put it was previously scheduled to be shut down — with current cost estimates for upgrades just under $700,000?
Suggesting , to me at least, that it is long past time that the McGuinty government step in and, if nothing else, put the DSBN Academy decision on hold for a year.