CORNWALL – Citing many years of inaction by the provincial government on the rural education file, SDG County officials have requested a meeting with Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
“Rural education and access to quality learning is a clear priority for our Council, which is why we are requesting a meeting with Minister Lecce so that he can hear our concerns directly,” said Warden Allan Armstrong. “This is an issue that is not specific to SDG, but all of rural Ontario, and we want to ensure our young people, who live in a rural setting, have the same opportunities as those from an urban centre.”
A delegation from SDG County, including Armstrong, made the request at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference.
“What we did do is point out that this is the seventh time that county council has been before a Minister of Education,” he said explaining that the county delegation “strongly” requested a meeting with Lecce to present the county’s education plan.
“We are seeking a solution, or some improvements, to rural education for all of Ontario and not just ourselves and we are just tired of waiting and need to be heard.”
Armstrong told council members that the delegation was not given an “ironclad promise” for a meeting.
“But I do believe we were heard and there was as close to an offer to have a meeting as you would get [at AMO].”
Earlier this year the county hired consultant Monika Ferenczy to develop an education plan for local education in SDG. That plan has hit a stumbling block as Armstrong updated his fellow council members at their August 23 council meeting.
“Council hasn’t seen that report, it’s not complete,” Armstrong told council. “Councillor [Kirsten] Gardner also pointed out the difficulties that the committee is having getting information from some of the school boards. [The Ministry] did say that they would look into it once we provide the specific questions that [school boards] are not answering.”
Education statistics including enrolment, facility information, and population demographics, from the Upper Canada District School Board are available through that board’s online School Information Profile website.
Similar statistics requested have not been released by the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario nor either of the two French school boards.
A draft of the SDG education report was set to be presented at the August 23 County Council meeting. No timeline for when the report will be finished has been given.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader