Premier suggests more cross-board talk on school closures

In this Tuesday, March 7, 2017 screen grab from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario webcast, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark asks Premier Kathleen Wynne if the government will allow communities with alternative solutions to school closures more time. The premier was non-committal on a moratorium while suggesting there should be more talk between school boards to come up with solutions. (OLA via Newswatch Group)

QUEEN’S PARK – Premier Kathleen Wynne says school board trustees should be spending more time talking with their counterparts of other boards while dealing with possible school closures.

Wynne floated the idea Tuesday as her government faced demands from Progressive Conservative MPPs, lead by leader Patrick Brown, for a one year moratorium on school closures.

“I believe the school boards are fundamental in making decisions locally,” Wynne said during Question Period.

Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark asked the premier about the alternative solutions proposed by parents and municipalities and to give “these great ideas a chance to work” – again, asking for more time.

Wynne referenced a letter sent Monday by Education Minister Mitzie Hunter to Ontario school boards.

“There are other situations where there hasn’t been the kind of consultation between boards or with the municipality that should have happened. That the ministry has for some time expressed a preference for,” she said, while not singling any one school board out by name.

“Where those conversations haven’t happened. Where the school boards haven’t had a conversation either with each other, because as you know we have four systems in the province Mr. Speaker, or where the municipalities and the boards have not spoken we need to allow for opportunity for that to happen,” Wynne said.

But the premier didn’t promise any extra time to make that happen.

The Upper Canada District School Board is slated to make its final decision on March 23, which will see up to 12 schools in Eastern Ontario closed or consolidated.

The Catholic District School Board is looking at making a final decision on May 2 on consolidating its Cornwall family of schools, which has four sites identified for possible closure.

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