Miller asks Wynne for moratorium on rural school closures after Honey Harbour closure
QUEEN’S PARK — Norm Miller has joined his leader in calling for a moratorium on rural school closures.
This morning, the Parry Sound – Muskoka MPP asked the premier directly if she would agree to the moratorium, while also speaking and voting in support of a motion calling for the moratorium, according to news release from him Tuesday.
His question came the same day as his Progressive Conservative party leader Patrick Brown called for a moratorium on all school closures. Six-hundred schools province-wide face closures.
And it comes after the announced closure of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, in Honey Harbour, by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
The closure would take effect when classed end this June, with students being transferred to St. Antoine Daniel in Victoria Harbour in September, facing a longer bus ride to and from school.
Miller added that the public school board is also currently considering closing the Honey Harbour Public School as well.
A final decision on that move is expected in April.
Miller urged the government to find a way to help communities, like Honey Harbour, keep at least one school open for the local rural students.
In his question, Miller highlighted the critical role local schools play in small rural communities.
“Without a local school, communities like Honey Harbour are unable to attract families and business
that keep the community thriving,” said Miller.
Later in the day Miller again told the Legislature about the situation in Honey Harbour as well as the planned review of Gravenhurst High School (delayed last week to fall 2019) during debate on a motion calling for a moratorium on rural school closures and review of the Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines.
In response, Kathleen Wynne cited a letter that the Minister of Education (Mitzie Hunter) sent to school boards (Monday) asking the boards to work together to keep a school open in smaller communities.
“I first asked the Premier to help keep a school in Honey Harbour in the fall and she told me then that boards should consider co-locating small schools,” said Miller. “I’m not sure why the Minister (of Education) didn’t communicate this directive to boards until yesterday, one day before today’s debate on school closures and too late to help the students of Our Lady of Mercy,” said Miller.
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