Kitchener CVI


It is important to begin this discussion by clarifying the roles played by schools. Schools educate our children; they are also an important part of the community’s fabric – schools are often considered a public good. They are major contributors to a community’s quality of life. Schools are important meeting places for communities, and they can be major contributors to social cohesion, health, wellbeing, and sense of place. They also have high symbolic value as the heart of the community. The presence of a school suggests a community with a future; conversely, the loss of a community school can symbolize a community in decline.

School closure can be very difficult for students, families, communities and municipal government. This is especially the case for inner city communities that are often transitional in nature and are delicately balanced in social and economic terms. When inner city schools close, these communities become less attractive to families that have school-age children; their residents can lose their sense of identity and confidence in neighbourhood viability.

We need to acknowledge that school boards across Canada and the United States have struggled for years with fiscal constraints and declining enrolments. They are under intense pressure from senior government to rationalize their services and resources; this can be the catalyst for accommodation review processes. However, the accommodation review process that is mandated by senior government often makes a very difficult situation a lot worse. School closure decision-making processes are highly contested, conflict-ridden, and often harshly criticized by school and community stakeholders.

We believe there is a pressing need to design and implement enlightened and comprehensive accommodation review processes that will produce understandable, fair and equitable outcomes for communities and school boards. Our hope is that this research project will contribute to a much-needed discussion of this complex issue and lead to the design of enlightened accommodation review processes in this province.

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