Southeast Oakville parents welcome Administrative Review

    OAKVILLE, ON, Sept. 16 /CNW/ - Parents and residents in southeast
Oakville welcome news that the Ministry of Education will carry out an
Administrative Review focusing on the local school board's decision to close
four schools in the area.
    Trustees with the local board voted in July to close Brantwood Public
School, Linbrook Public School, Chisholm Public School and New Central School.
The goal is to use funds from the sale of the school sites to construct a new
school in a more recently settled area of Oakville. Program and grade
offerings will change at the two remaining elementary schools in southeast
Oakville: Maple Grove Public School and EJ James Public School.
    The Ministry of Education provides that an Administrative Review of the
accommodation review process may be requested within 30 days of the closure
decision. The parents from the schools targeted for closure along with those
from Maple Grove Public School and EJ James Public School initiated such a
request on the grounds that the board's process was flawed. The appeal claimed
the board did not properly follow its Program and Accommodation Review
Committee (PARC) process - the process it has mandated for use when a school
is to be closed.
    "The Board's decision to close four schools was never a model considered
in public discussion and debate," said Mark Caskenette with Oakville Residents
for Public Education, a non-profit group that helped coordinate the request
for an Administrative Review. "Southeast Oakville residents simply want a fair
and open process with complete and accurate information before any final
decisions are made."
    The Ministry of Education has appointed David Cooke as the independent
facilitator to conduct the Administrative Review. The mandate of the review is
to determine if the Halton board followed its locally developed accommodation
review process. It is not the mandate of the Ministry or the facilitator to
review or change the final decision of a school board through the
Administrative Review process. Rather, it is the Ministry's expectation that
boards and communities will use the reviews to strengthen the consultation and
decision making process.
    "It would be fundamentally difficult for any community to accept the
decision to close four schools if the facilitator deems the Board
significantly violated its policy", stressed Caskenette. "If the review
confirms the process was flawed then it is axiomatic that the decision is
flawed. The board then must review its decision exposed to the full light of
public consultation."
    While the Accommodation Review is most welcome, the parents and residents
hope the province doesn't turn a blind eye to the fact that more than just a
flawed process is involved said Caskenette.
    "We are a mature area of Oakville with no additional public land existing
to capture fresh green space," noted Caskenette. "These community schools and
their corresponding green space have been used for recreational purposes for
generations. Green space erased from our area is gone forever."
    Caskenette added: "Schools inject energy, activity and growth into
neighbourhoods. The residents of southeast Oakville face the prospect of
having long-established, mature neighbourhoods drastically altered. We are
seeking a solution that respects the character and history of our area."

For further information:

For further information: Mark Caskenette, Phone: (416) 673-5540

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