MPP shut out of SD&G rural education working group

The United Counties of SD&G administration building at 26 Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – As the United Counties of SD&G comes up with a plan to protect rural education, county councillors believe MPP Jim McDonell should not be directly part of the working group.

The county has hired Monica Ferenczy of Horizon Educational Consultants for $45,000 to come up with a local plan to “ensure that rural children are educated as close to their local communities as possible.”

While having good things to say about Jim McDonell, some councillors are concerned the MPP had initially been named a member of the working group.

“It’s not an acrimonious thing but, he does represent us, but he also represents the province. I don’t think you explain to the people you’re going to be dealing with, how it is you’re putting together what you’re putting together. He shouldn’t be there,” Coun. Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) said.

Coun. Jamie MacDonald (North Glengarry) agreed and felt McDonell would be a liaison with the consultant but not sit on the committee.

Coun. Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) concurred considering the plan was to “challenge the provincial government into thinking something different” about rural education. “When you have the person you’re going to negotiate with later on across the table and he’s doing a lot of talking then, who’s doing the directing here?”

County council passed a resolution to appoint the working group members by name – without Jim McDonell.

The members of the working group are: North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser, South Dundas Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner, North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald, South Glengarry Coun. Stephanie Jaworski, South Stormont Coun. Jennifer MacIsaac, SD&G CAO Tim Simpson, North Stormont CAO Craig Calder, South Glengarry CAO Tim Mills, North Glengarry resident David Filion, South Dundas resident Joyce Latulippe.

A draft report on the education review is expected in late July or early August.