Potential School Closures Has Parents Organizing

The Downtown Residents Association holds a meeting in Windsor on October 6, 2016 regarding the possible closure of core area schools. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Parents with children at schools in Windsor’s core area are trying to get organized to fight back against potential closures.

The Downtown Residents Association put on a meeting Thursday night to help inform concerned parents after the proposed review of city centre schools at the Greater Essex County District School Board was put on hold in May.

Queen Victoria Public School parent Kelly Santoro feels the older city centre schools are being opened to possible closure because there hasn’t been enough money spent on upkeep.

“It’s a fight and a push to get it fixed, so they have that excuse of the school being in disrepair — but they should have been fixing it all along,” says Santoro.

Many of those in attendance — including core area resident and city councillor Rino Bortolin — argue it would be a shame for schools with heritage value to be abandoned or replaced in favour of new, consolidated schools.

Hugh Beaton Public School parent, Matt Earish says parents have been working on possible workarounds to school closures in the core area.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas,” says Earish. “They [the board] say come with solutions and we’ve spent some time, so we look forward to presenting that to the board in the next few weeks.”

Earish says it’s always going to be difficult to fight school closures as long as the funding formula in Ontario stays the same.

“I think that’s a real issue,” he says. “I think we all know the provincial government doesn’t download enough funds and I don’t envy the position of the trustees or the administration in the tough decisions that they have to make.”

Parents fear the recommended review that was put on hold could come back and possibly see one — or more — of the core area schools closed.

About 50 people attended the meeting at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall on Ottawa St. which included trustees Jessica Sartori and Alan Halberstadt, MPP Lisa Gretzky and ETFO representative Mario Spagnuolo.