Local parents joined MPP Steve Clark at a provincial rally Monday at Queen’s Park, where, despite an onslaught of winter weather, hundreds gathered to protest against looming school closures across the province.
Around 250 students and parents gathered at the provincial legislature in Toronto to protest against the ongoing accommodation reviews that could see up to 600 schools close across the province, with 29 of those in the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB).
“The fact parents have travelled hours in terrible weather to be here … is a testament to how hard they’re working to save these schools and ensure their children can continue to learn close to home,” said Clark.
The protesters urged the government to reconsider the way it funds schools – a formula that provides money on a per-pupil basis – because rural schools are automatically at a disadvantage because their enrolment levels will inevitably be lower than schools in urban centres.
According to the Ministry of Education (MOE), per-pupil funding increased in 2016–17 to $11,709 – an increase of 1.4 per cent from 2015–16 and 63 per cent since 2002–03.
But despite this, Clark said the funding model itself is flawed, and is forcing rural communities to lose their community hubs.