On Tuesday, when a dedicated group of about 50 Parry Sound area residents attended the Near North District School Board meeting in North Bay, or through video link in Parry Sound, they won a battle.
Community pressure resulted in a decision to push back moving area Grade 7/8 students into the high school by one year, to 2014. It also resulted in a decision to go through the community consultation process, with the creation of an Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) of teachers, parents and other stakeholders to lead the process.
That said, the board can easily just go through the motions, rather than truly and openly consulting with the community. Next month, the board will strike the ARC and give it its marching orders. Public pressure will help encourage them to make the ARC’s mandate an open one - that looks at all scenarios. As long as the province keeps funding rural schools through a city-made formula, there isn’t enough money to go around. Tough decisions will have to be made. The end result might still mean Grade 7/8 students in Parry Sound move to a new building - maybe even the high school. But area residents have the right to be part of that decision, and must apply continual pressure on North Bay trustees who, for the most part, don’t seem convinced local opinions really matter.