Local municipalities have made it clear to Ontario’s Premier and Education Minister that they want to be involved in the process when it comes to deciding the future of schools in the the Quinte region.
On Monday, Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher, Hastings County Warden Rodney Cooney, Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff and Sophiasburgh councillor Bill Roberts met with Education Minister Mitzie Hunter at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference to discuss the Accommodation Review Process.
The ARP could see 600 school closures and consolidations province-wide. Across the Hastings and Prince Edward School Board, recommendations include changes to 19 schools as the board grapples with capital renewal needs of $250 million over the next decade and low enrolment numbers.
Quaiff said councillor Roberts who recently tabled a successful motion requesting the province stay the execution of ARP, took the lead on the issue explaining to Minister Hunter that they want an independent review completed first on the social and economic impacts to rural communities.
Mayor Quaiff said Minister Hunter seemed very receptive to their concerns. Quaiff said following the meeting he also had a discussion with Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Quaiff said he used the closure of North Marysburgh Public School in 2001 to explain the impact school closures can have on rural communities.
Meanwhile, a public meeting is planned for Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute as the ARP could affect six of the County’s eight schools. Another one is scheduled for February 8 for Belleville schools at Quinte Secondary at 6:30 p.m. in the gymnasium.
Also Hastings Prince Edward MPP Todd Smith has released a petition. It can be viewed by clicking here.