A Last Chance Reprieve for OSCVI; An Open Letter to the Bluewater Board of Education Trustees and the Mayor and Councilors of Owen Sound.

Please don't kill OSCVI. I use the word kill because OSCVI is a living thing that is at the heart of the city of Owen Sound and Grey/Bruce counties. To close this school is to destroy 160 years of Owen Sound culture and history. This is not a move to be taken lightly.

Provincial governments, city governments, an education board of directors and trustees come and go but schools with a history should remain. They anchor a community. They say we are here and we matter.

Local education budgets come and go too. Politics change, fund education, de-fund education. It often depends on who you vote for provincially. But the community and the students and their parents expect a quality education system, a place where their kids are safe and provided for in the best possible scenario. They look to a stable future. Closing OSCVI with such short notice is very disruptive for parents and students. Closing this fall is simply not good for many Bluewater students. And it's just not fair to the current students of OSCVI.

The Bluewater Board and many voices in the community have proposed many other options to closing OSCVI as a secondary school. The overwhelming response from the community and indeed alumni from around the world who are in full opposition to closing OSCVI is also overwhelming. To ignore the outcry, to not take a step back and re-think the closure would be irresponsible on the part of all involved.

This is bigger than the board of directors and the trustees. It's about Owen Sound and Grey/Bruce. How do we treat ourselves when it comes to our own history and culture? Do we fall into the trap of knowing the cost of everything and the value on nothing? Or do we do the right thing, save OSCVI and then figure out how to finance this great achievement. The province also needs to step up.

On Tuesday April 19th the Bluewater Trustees have the power to vote OSCVI out of existence. I want them to know and feel the weight of this decision. The people of Grey/ Bruce, students, parents and teachers, at all schools, are all hoping that they will not vote to close OSCVI as a secondary school.

Lets all take a deep breath; there is no hurry, take a time out, think outside the budget box. Closing OSCVI in September will be chaos. Trustees have the power to smooth the waters. A second sober thought. Give the community more time to consult with the board. At least one more year. No harm done.

Education trustees were elected to care for the rights and education of the students. They were not elected to follow the budget recommendations of the board of directors.

I want to remind the trustees that if they vote to close OSCVI they are changing the history of Owen Sound and Grey/Bruce. This is not about the current budget restraints it's about your culture and history. You as trustees will be remembered as the ones who killed OSCVI a great Canadian historical and cultural institution.

I implore the trustees to take a time out on closing OSCVI. One more year of consultation will fix this mess. Please back up Marg Gaviller Owen Sound trustee in stopping the closure of OSCVI.


James Sebesta

Photo credit: http://www.virtualreferencelibrary.ca/