Premier’s call for shared schools welcomed by Rainbow Board official

SUDBURY—Premier Kathleen Wynne’s call for greater co-operation among school boards in regard to concerns about school closures in many rural and Northern communities is welcome news, says Norm Blaseg, the director of education for the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB).

“From a director of education perspective this is extremely welcome news,” stated Mr. Blaseg, last week. “If she is hinting at promoting the sharing of schools we are very pleased.”

Premier Wynne was quoted by the North Bay Nugget in its May 12 edition as saying there is no reason you can’t have  a public and Catholic school board sharing spaces. She said it’s something that is already happening in the province. She made her comments to delegates at the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference in North Bay.

Ms. Wynne also said the province is moving quickly toward denying boards that don’t co-operate capital funding that they would otherwise be eligible to receive and that the province is already there in some cases.

The premier said there are some people and boards in the province that want the government to do away with the Catholic school system, but said that the province is not looking at this. She told FONOM she sees the creation of hubs that would involve school boards, municipalities and health services to create better opportunities for children and their families. However, even without hubs she said there is no reason for boards to not share space.

“We (RDSB) have to make some difficult decisions, and have made some of them already,” said Mr. Blaseg. “As a board we are on record of being in favour of coterminous boards so we can share space with other boards. In some cases there are not enough students in one board’s school to maintain quality programs.”

“We (RDSB) want to work with other boards, to find mechanisms and work in harmony respecting all religious and linguistic rights,” continued Mr. Blaseg.