Coming together to talk about enrollment decline and possible solutions
Published Friday, October 6, 2017 5:25PM EDT
Ontario's educational infrastructure dates back to the days of the baby boom, when school desks doubled as protection from possible nuclear blasts.
Flash forward 50 years and boards are struggling to keep schools open.
"Many of our schools were built in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and so they are getting quite old, and the second factor of course is declining enrolment. All of us have degrees of declining enrolment," said Doug Shearer, District School Board Ontario North East, board of trustees chair.
It's a province wide issue that has Ontario's Ministry of Education looking for rural school boards to co-operate.
All four boards in the Timmins region gathered this week to talk about how to work together.
"Certainly, the ministry is hoping that we see a few more partnerships in northern and rural communities, but our conversation hasn't gotten that far just yet," said Tricia Weltz, Northeastern Catholic District School Board director of education.
The boards are cautiously wading into the concept of joining forces and possibly sharing spaces.
"This is really just an opportunity to see if there are some possibilities for shared space or partnership agreements among the boards," Weltz explained.
All boards said the main goal is to put children first.
"Studies in the past have shown that newer facilities do in fact, create improved student marks," said Shearer.
"Plus, in some cases students will have access to facilities they don't have right now, such as auto shops, computer rooms or labs, so those kinds of things, expanded libraries are all possible."
This conversation is still just beginning, and not just here in the Timmins region; boards across the province will be reaching out to assess the potential that future cooperation could have on a new generation of students.