The Ontario Alliance Against School Closures (OAASC) has uncovered over 600 schools, including 96 in Toronto, with enrollments at or under the Ministry of Education's 65% utilization benchmark, are threatened with closure this year and in the coming few years.
"Our study examined documents readily available on board websites," said OAASC spokesperson Susan MacKenzie. "Based on available public information from thirty Ontario school boards, a minimum of 611 schools are threatened with closure. In addition,
there are 42 school boards that have not made their Long-Term Accommodation Plans readily available to the public, which means that the true number of schools facing closure is really much higher. It is important to know what is planned in all of the school boards in Ontario and which schools will be on the chopping block."
She states, "in the five years leading up to the release of the Ministry's revised pupil accommodation review guideline, 277 schools were closed. The Minister's number of 300 closures for 2016-17 would represent a five-fold annual increase." The OAASC also states that school boards will receive funding supports totaling $33.2 million to undertake capital planning activities that align with the phase out of top-up funding.
The OAASC believes that the 2015 rewriting of the Pupil Accommodation Review guideline demonstrates the Ministry's intent to further speed up the school closure process and to get it done without municipal and community input. "Just last week, four boards voted to close 18 schools," MacKenzie stated. "With the situation becoming increasingly urgent; we call on the government to declare an immediate moratorium on school closures."
Here is the full report on school closures including a summary of developing trends and board by-board inconsistencies.
MacKenzie, from Sarnia and, Judy Keeling from Owen Sound, two co-founders of the OAASC, will travel to Queen's Park on April 5th to meet with the Hon. Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter.