Sunday, June 28, 2009

Schools Out For ?

One of the more controversial issues affecting our area of late is the potential closing of some area high schools, notably Stayner and Elmvale. Earlier this year an accommodation review committee was struck by the Simcoe County School Board to determine the future needs regarding five area high schools with the two aforementioned facilities being called into question. Parents and students have anxiously been awaiting the final decision regarding the fate of the Elmvale and Stayner schools for some time. A decision, scheduled to have been reached a week or so ago was deferred until June 22nd, prolonging the agony of all concerned. Now, the Board has announced that a decision will not be made until late September which seems to be at the very least, insensitive to those persons being affected. Students, many of which dearly love these schools and are upset over their potential closure, have no idea as to their future. Parents, some of whom may be contemplating a change in address, may need to factor in the educational needs of their kids before making a move and are being held in limbo. Given this latest delay, one can only question the rationale of the entire process and the quality of thought that has gone in to assessing the area’s needs for education. To make rumblings about school closings without definitive plans would appear at the very least to have been premature. Forcing parents and students to wait, until beyond the start of yet another school year is quite inconsiderate.
As a parent that has lived in other areas and experienced other school boards, I quite frankly was always disenchanted with the operation of the Simcoe County Board. Don’t get me wrong, the schools themselves and the teachers are great, but I always called into question other aspects of the Board’s operation.
Through complications resulting from open heart surgery as an infant, my son was to some degree academically challenged. While living in the Kitchener – Waterloo area, my son’s educational needs were assessed and responded to accordingly. During his school years in Collingwood, additional help was always promised but never delivered and I was always told that “he was doing fine.” He wasn’t doing “fine,” at one point my son was so discouraged with his progress that he was resigned to the fact that he may have to be content with some menial job as an adult. Subsequently, he relocated to Aurora to live with his Mother. The York Region Board quickly assessed his needs and responded with some initiatives including furnishing him with a laptop computer to aid with his particular learning “style.” The result? Well upon graduating from grade 8 he was given an award as the most improved student. This past week, he graduated from high school with honours and he has ambitious career plans for the future. Would he have performed academically as well had he remained a student within the Simcoe County Board? Personally I do not believe so and it’s not because of the quality of teachers or facilities. It would be due to the top down management of the Simcoe Board and their ability to respond to the needs of their students, especially those that require added attention. Their inability to reach a timely decision on the fate of these two area high schools speaks to this and I am thankful that I am not the parent of an Elmvale or Stayner Collegiate student(s) that will now endure several more months of uncertainty before the future of these two schools is decided. I sympathize with their predicament and hope that whatever decision is reached, it will ultimately benefit the area’s youth in preparing them for the future in what is becoming an increasingly competitive world.

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.