Ministry of Education reviewing school closures
Facilitator looking at how, why Oakwood school was closed
The Greater Essex School Board's accommodation review process is under investigation this week.
A facilitator from the Ministry of Education is in town to meet with administrators regarding the closure of Oakwood public school at the end of the school year. Students will be transferred to Glenwood school.
The board is also moving French immersion students at Bellewood to another building across town.
Parents say the board did not follow the ministry's procedures or its own policies during the decision-making process.
A review will be conducted of the program and accommodation review committee process that resulted in the closure and restructuring which change the boundaries for Bellewood, which is bursting at the seams.
"The data kept changing all the time. It was flawed because the numbers regarding the students, regarding the specifics of each school kept changing all the time with no explanation why," said Elly Blejdea, a spokesperson for the parents at Oakwood.
"We try to follow the procedures as much as we can," said Terry Lyons, the board's superintendent of education.
The facilitator also plans to meet with parents from the two schools.
Blejdea says a meeting is planned for Wednesday night at the Oakwood school gym.
"We base our optimism on the facts that are on our side and what we hope from this facilitator is that the line of communication will go both ways," Blejdea said.
However, the facilitator cannot change the board's decision. It can only review the process and not change the decision.
Lyons said the process is very emotional for all involved.
"If there are some mistakes, we welcome the advice in terms of how we can make the process easier and more clear," Lyons said.
In the meantime at Tuesday's regular board meeting, the administration will present an accommodations planning report dealing with aging schools, declining enrolment, changing demographics and the demand for certain programs.
It's estimated there are nearly 7,000 empty student spaces within the public school board system.
With files from Gino Conte and Steven Bull