School board woes only a foreshadow of what is to come

First published: December 22, 2005

The school board is playing with parents and community leaders like a cat paws a mouse before killing it. The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board is about to make its decision over the future of L.B Powers and Central public schools shortly.

Port Hope school trustee Erin Brown held out a faint hope saying the next meeting of the board will not be the final decision. But, it is a mere technicality. Under the board’s policies, there is very little parents or the community can do once the wheels are set in motion.

Town council decided to get its lawyer to look at a possible argument to stop the closings. Yet, this have hearted attempt is nothing more than show. If councillors were truly stricken by these closures, it would have been an agenda item back in September, not at the 11th hour. And, it could have done plenty more than the sad effort it is making now.

These threatened closures are an example of why regionalizing services does not work in rural areas. While the province thinks it is gaining tighter controls on administrative spending, in fact, it has gutted any local control. There was a time when the school board would be able to raise taxes accordingly to keep schools open. And while there was grumbling, at least parents had far more input, and responsiveness at the local level.

There is a lesson to be learned from this, which must be applied to the province’s new plans for Local Integrated Health Networks. Like the school board, the Ontario government is going to strip power away from citizen-based decision-making only to place it at a regional level. Once more, Northumberland County residents will be puppets of those who live outside the community.

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