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Ministry providing incentives for school boards to downsize; build newer, modern facilities

Big changes are imminent for many of the publicly-funded English school boards across Ontario, including those that service Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton.

But any changes will be made with the goal of enhanced learning opportunities for students while making better use of taxpayer dollars.

Both the Lambton-Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board have completed long-term capital plans — mandated by the Ministry of Education — that take into consideration the need to close, consolidate and, in some cases, build new schools to combat the impact of continuing enrolment decline and the millions of dollars needed to maintain and upgrade aging school facilities.

Some pupil accommodations reviews are underway and others will soon be starting as the process begins to deal with several schools that are well under capacity within the jurisdictions of the two school boards.

The changes are being driven by the Ministry of Education, which is eliminating extra funding it once provided school boards with declining enrolment.

Since school boards are also funded based on the number students they have, declining enrolment also impacts the bottom line.

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