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Bob Hammersley President & CEO St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce
Chamber Joins Call for TVDSB Reconsideration

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Thames Valley District School Board to promptly revisit and reconsider their recent decision on local school closures.

The Chamber's action follows the decision by the Ontario Minister of Education to accept a position tabled to the government in early May. The Chamber's position noted flaws in the funding formula for rural schools and in what is known as an "accommodation review process".

The Minister of Education appears to agree with Chamber's findings and, on June 28, announced an overhaul of the process behind the earlier TVDSB decision.

Chamber President & CEO Bob Hammersley issued this request to all TVDSB trustees this morning: "On behalf of the businesses and employers in our service area, their employees and families, and those who might consider investing and locating in our area, I am writing to ask your prompt attention to suspend and reconsider the earlier decision to close 3 schools here in Elgin County; Sparta, Springfield and New Sarum.

We were extremely disappointed that the Board's earlier action did not support the logic of the request submitted within the Ontario Chamber's position noting flaws in the review and funding formula processes. Now that the Minister of Education has admitted and accepted the flaws we identified, we urge the TVDSB to do the same.

We completely agree with, and support, the statement issued by Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek on June 29 when he stated "The closures of these 3 schools should not go forward."

Until such time as the government corrects the funding formula for rural schools and a new accommodation review process is in place, it is imperative that the children and parents in our area not be subjected to burdens the government has admitted are unfair and unjust."

On May 6, at a Chamber convention in Sarnia, the Chamber network adopted a two-point resolution which was then presented to the province.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges the Government of Ontario to:

  • 1. Place an immediate Moratorium on school closures in Ontario until the provincial Accommodation Review Guidelines are revised to require consideration of the economic and social impact of planned and potential closures prior to final boards of education decisions;
  • 2. Ensure that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is consulted on the aggregate provincial impact of school closures and that local Chambers of Commerce/Boards of Trade are included in discussions with school boards on current and pending accommodations reviews.

Last Updated: Friday, 07 July 2017 12:45:17 PM EST

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