Board merger supported by Windsor-Essex public trustees, reaction mixed
Published Wednesday, April 17, 2019 9:34AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 17, 2019 11:09PM EDT
Trustees with the Greater Essex County District School Board support the idea of one local school board.
Trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday night to support a motion from the Rainbow District School Board in the Sudbury that calls for one board with two languages.
That means a merger of the English speaking public and catholic school boards as well as the two French language boards in Windsor-Essex.
Trustee Alan Halberstadt put forward the motion Tuesday night, saying it could be the most fiscally responsible way forward for the Doug Ford government since it is proposing cuts to the education system in order to help save money.
“I’ve been advocating for this, for about 30 years,” admits Halberstadt.
Halberstadt campaigned during the municipal election to have only one school system in Windsor-Essex.
He said at the time of the election campaign, that the move to combine the school boards would save more than $6 million a year.
A letter of support for one board will now be sent by the Greater Essex County District School Board to local politicians and Ontario's Minister of Education Lisa Thompson.
But Fulvio Valentinis, the Chair of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, calls the idea “a distraction.”
“It really, really does target Catholic education, let’s not kid ourselves,” says Valentinis, who argues religion would get lost in the shuffle.
Valentinis also notes their board is in strong financial shape.
“We've created a board where we're now fiscally responsible, we've created a surplus,” says Valentinis. “We've gone through some hard times, in terms of difficult decisions in closing schools, so we now have less than 1,000 empty pupil spaces.”
Valentinis tells CTV Windsor they will discuss a merger with any school board, but not before the word comes down from the province.
“It’s going to be Ministry driven, it’s not going to be driven by one board or another board going after each other, I don't think that bares any fruit.”
Anne Gerson of the Association of French Public School Boards says at this moment, they are not concerned mergers as they are more concerned about a proposed increase in classroom sizes.
The French Catholic School Board did not respond to requests from CTV Windsor for a comment.