COMMENTARY: The silent city

Having attended many of the Upper Canada District School Board’s Accommodation Review Committee meetings across the board there has been one area that has been silent through it all – Cornwall.

Cornwall is the largest single municipality served by the UCDSB and subject to much of the changes proposed by the board. The proposed closure of Char-Lan District High School and Rothwell-Osnabruck Secondary School, along with the modification of Tagwi Secondary

School’s boundaries means hundreds of new students moving into Cornwall schools. Those students would be split between Cornwall Collegiate and St. Lawrence Secondary in the hopes that a n ew “super school” would be built.

At Monday night’s final ARC meeting, 10 presentations from the community brought forth the rural perspective. The issues facing rural students going to a city school. Busing, mental health, economic impact on rural communities. All from the rural perspective, all valid points, but what about Cornwall?

In every meeting, every presentation, there has been nothing from people in Cornwall asking if families here want an influx of hundreds of students. What is the impact on students in Cornwall? As rural students would miss out on opportunities going to larger schools in

the city, city students would also miss out with more competition for extra cirruculars. Same with scholarships, bursaries, job opportunities and co-op education to name a few. With more students in fewer schools, what about the students in the cities?

The ARC process is almost over and residents in Cornwall have been silent. Are families who attend St. Lawrence happy with the potential merger with CCVS? Are they happy with more students in their high schools? What is the impact for the city? All silent. Do people in Cornwall care?

We know from Brockville, the second largest municipality in the board, that the consolidations planned are drawing sharp criticism. That is from consolidating elementary schools. Cornwall is over double the size of Brockville, why the silence? If Cornwall schools are so great, it is worth gutting rural schools to fill them? Where are the cheerleaders from Cornwall?

The arguments for saving rural schools have been made by their communities and they are compelling arguments. No arguments for or against Cornwall schools have been made in Cornwall. It would be hard to make an informed decision when half the picture is missing.

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