Letter to the Editor
To the Bluewater District School board members:
I hate paying property tax but I would like to support paying a bit more to keep more schools open in more communities.
Most ratepayers think a local school is essential to the survival of small communities.
A town without a school can not attract employers, trades, medical professionals, or population growth.
Your decisions could be responsible for the death of small town Ontario.
Can the board reconfigure strategy and use a model such as what Meaford is going to have?
Try and have a JK to high school in every feasible community.
Emerging data suggest that it is wrong, unhealthy and disturbing to bus kids 30 to 90 minutes from their homes.
Some students are too young for bus times added to their day and many students will lose the opportunity to experience after-school cultural, sporting, and extra help with problem subjects.
Busing costs are enormous and growing so this plan could reduce some of those costs.
The separate school board is also experiencing similar problems.
It is now the time for both boards to swallow their pride and cooperate with small-town JK to 12 schools with both curriculums.
This simple solution would allow many more towns to keep a school in their community.
Embrace the idea that Chapman Ice Cream proposed.
Seek out other employers, donations, or municipal cost-sharing to share costs for a community showcase.
A shared-cost facility could share libraries, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, gymnasiums, fitness rooms, arenas, playing fields, daycare centre, etc.
A major problem in rural areas is tax base.
Provincial funding is based on permanent population.
Local municipalities with high numbers of cottage and chalet homes are being penalized by provincial funding models.
These vacation home populations should be counted for funding.
The owners are already paying property tax for education so it is logical the government should use their numbers for education funding.
Municipalities would welcome this aid and this type of funding model would also give much needed relief for other community needs such as policing and emergency services.
All rural education boards must lobby the government to alter funding to recognize that urban and rural boards are very different and rural boards need assistance to maintain schools within small towns.
Please do the right thing before more irreparable damage is done.
Robert Gardner, Meaford