School Bus in Chesley
It used to be that teachers taught for a reason and it definitely was
not because of the salaries they earned. Instead it was because ... they
loved to teach but, times have changed and, like many other fields, it
has become an issue revolving around today's values.
Here, in Bruce and Grey counties, education is not exempt from the
overwhelming desire to amalgamate so, here we go again ... another case
of amalgamation only, this time, it's school boards.
On January 1, 1993 the Bruce County Board of Education and the Grey
County Board of Education amalgamated to form the new Bluewater District
School Board. The new Board oversees 48 elementary schools, 11
secondary and the outdoor education facility (OEC).
Since amalgamation, programs have been cut and students are the ones who
On June 22, 2007, Jan Johnstone, a trustee with the Bluewater District
School Board presented a report at Queen's Park wherein he stated that
he was "representing the needs of students and their public education
Johnstone said at that time that, "Recently, our school board had to
make - again - difficult cuts to administration, plant operation,
secondary and elementary staffing, and to French immersion in our
budget. Children with special education needs have been hit really hard
with the cuts in elementary resource teacher staffing. The cut back in
provincial funding for special education and declining enrolment grants
have pushed the board to cut back on many valuable programs. With a
deficit of 3.2 million dollars, we are cutting back by over 5 million
dollars. In a small rural board, this is unbelievable!"
Unbelievable is right but, not so unbelievable when looking at the
recently released salaries for Board administrators, some of whom,
including the Executive Director, Mary Ann Alton, are making well over
$100,000 per year.
Johnstone, in his report, went on to say that, "Our Catholic school
partners are also in declining enrolment. Yet they are not in a deficit
nor are they cutting back programs or closing schools. In fact, they are
going to be building new additions on a couple of schools."
Big New Administration Building in Chesley
What then, is the difference between the 'public' school system and
the Catholic? Could it possibly be education? Could it possibly be
There is recent talk in Bruce County, and in particular Walkerton, of
schools closing because of a supposed decline in enrolment. There has
been talk of bussing students from proposed closed Walkerton schools to
Apparently, there has also been discussion about combining Brant
Central School and Walkerton Public into one building at Walkerton
District Secondary School. Ask parents how they feel and they are quick
to point out the disadvantages. Elementary school students, grade K to
8, would be going to a school located on a highway, they would lose
playground spaces and there would be young elementary school students
mixing with high school students.
Once again, the public is faced with a situation where economics are
overtaking values. Only this time the values are children.
Looking at the salaries of those in the administration of education, one
has to question where the money that is to go toward education is really
Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga, who has been in office for
decades, has said that, "Amalgamation is the worst thing ever to have
happened to municipalities."
Perhaps, it's also the worst thing to be happening to education.
The committee will make its recommendations to the board on the future
of the three schools at a public meeting on April 24 at WDSS at 7 p.m.
Board officials will get the recommendations by May 20 and the trustees
will make a final choice at a special meeting on Sept. 30
- likely at the Chesley community hall.
This isn't just about Walkerton schools ... this is about education
everywhere in Ontario. Sit up and take notice parents and grandparents
... this is the future.