We know this: no evidence has been provided to prove there’s any benefit to moving local Grade 7/8 students into the Parry Sound High School.
We know this: there are legitimate concerns about moving 12- and 13-year-olds into a building where older teenagers begin to face difficult decisions about drugs, sex and violence.
We know this: the Near North District School Board is trying to save money, as declining enrolment, and therefore per-pupil provincial funding, drops.
We can only come to one conclusion, the decision to move our elementary school students into the high school is a financial decision, with total disregard for the wellbeing of the affected kids – our community’s kids.
That’s why the decision was made surreptitiously, with no spot on a school board agenda, no public notice, catching even rural board members by surprise.
When decision-makers knowingly obscure a decision because it’s the wrong one, that’s all the more reason to react.
On Monday, the board chair will make a rare Parry Sound appearance. Kathey Hewitt and director of education Geof Botting will face the community their direction will impact – after the fact.
They may come armed with facts and figures.
They may insist the decision was made for reasons other than financial ones.
The board represents constituents, taxpayers, parents and grandparents in the Parry Sound area.
The board has made a decision; not only without consulting those it represents, but knowing the community completely disagrees with the decision.
Local trustee Jim Beatty, caught by surprise when the decision came up, has cast his voice of dissent on our behalf.
So has Almaguin area trustee Al Bottomley, who is always a staunch defender of small-town schools on a board dominated by North Bay trustees.
It’s time to turn up the volume and clearly demonstrate to Hewitt, Botting and any other school officials or board members who attend Monday’s meeting that the wrong decision was made here – a decision that should now be reversed.