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District School Board Ontario North East clashes with Education Ministry over capital funding

The District School Board Ontario North East (DSBONE) has had it with Ministry of Education, and what it sees a complete lack of communication or consistency when it comes to getting money for building enhancements.

The problem has become so bad, that the school board trustees decided on Wednesday to suspend their five-year capital plan, which lays out all the building improvements, closures and new construction the board wanted to do from 2015 until 2020. The plan won’t be reinstated until the board is given a meeting with Education Minister Mitzie Hunter.

The day after the trustees’ decision to scuttle the capital plan, school board chairman Doug Shearer released a scathing statement that accused Ministry of using school board trustees as political scapegoats to avoid backlash from its spending cuts on education.

“The failure of the Ministry to actually communicate with either Board administration or trustees demonstrates an incredible ignorance of the challenges trustees and senior administration face,” fumed Shearer. “Trustees and staff face ongoing demands that boards cut costs. The Ministry seems quite happy to leave trustees wedged between their communities and an insensitive bureaucracy.”

DSBONE’s capital plan had been created in consultation with the Education Ministry’s financial services branch to make sure it fell in line with the government’s priorities. But that didn’t stop the ministry from rejecting funding applications for the first two projects on the list: an extension to Timmins Centennial Public School for a French immersion day care program, and the construction of a new Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Temiskaming Shores.

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