Monday, 7 November 2011

Making a Farce out of ARC: summing it all up

It’s time to sum up the facts presented in the past few posts, which analyze KPR’s Accommodation Review policy.

It seems that the policy was designed to:

• allow administrators to unilaterally close any city of Peterborough secondary school on short notice
• portray the programming at those schools as inadequate, contrary to the evidence, and
• specifically to facilitate the closing of PCVS.

Let’s go over the main points:

1. The policy does not meet the minimum expectations of the Ministry guidelines.

2. Although the most recent revisions were made following the new 2009 Ministry guidelines, the majority of the changes actually made either have nothing whatsoever to do with the guidelines or are mere nominal changes without changes in substance.

3. The chair of the committee which made the changes, Steven Cooke, is young, inexperienced, and was later removed from his position for failing to submit his own campaign financial report.

4. The only evidence of serious thought having been put into the revision lies in the areas which serve the interests of facilities management.

5. The policy attempts to apply standards originally meant for small elementary schools to secondary schools with the effect of making smaller-than-average secondary schools appear to be unviable.

6. An artificial and arbitrary threshold of 85% was established as a de facto “minimum facility occupancy level,” a figure unmotivated by Ministry policy and not used by other school boards. The fact that any school or group of schools falling below this level or expected to fall below it can be put under review by KPR administration allows a tiny minority of powerful people to force any school to close, contravening both the spirit of provincial policy and basic democratic principles.

7. The policy changes regarding secondary schools, which were made after an internal decision had already been reached to forcibly close one city school, specifically make it impossible to consider the very factors which have made PCVS successful.

Given this outrageous example of administrative abuse of policy which was intended to provide community influence over responses to declining enrolment, I have arrived at one concrete suggestion for the Working Group on Declining Enrolment, for new Education Minister Laurel Broten, and for whoever is working on the 2012 revision of the Ministry guidelines on accommodation review:

a stipulation that the Accommodation Review Process may not be used to force highly-enroled, perfectly healthy schools in fine operating condition to close in order to boost enrolment at other schools in the system.

Wouldn’t everyone agree that such a provision would be entirely sensible and rational? Is this not what has become known in common parlance as a “no-brainer?” Why would we even need to specify this?

It’s safe to say that the Working Group on Declining Enrolment, had they been witness to the atrocity of Hick’s and Lloyd’s abuse of process to sucker-punch PCVS this past year, would have seen fit to make this specific recommendation when they wrote Planning and Possibilities.

Let’s make sure someone is thinking about this at Queen’s Park right now.  

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