Province announces $20 million to support rural schools

In an announcement on Wednesday Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter said rural and northern schools would be given funding to address the unique needs of those areas.

Review process, which recommends school closures, to be revamped

Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter announced the province will put more money into rural and northern schools to enhance programming which includes e-learning, transportation and special needs education. (MEDU)

The province is investing $20 million to support schools in rural and northern Ontario.

Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter made the announcement Wednesday morning at Chemong Public School in Bridgenorth, Ont. approximately 10 kilometres northwest of Peterborough.

Along with the additional funding Hunter said the review process by which schools determine whether to stay open will be overhauled.

"We understand that the decisions to close schools are some of the most difficult we have to make," said Hunter.

Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown gave a statement following the announcement saying this will do "nothing for schools in cities throughout the province that remain on the chopping block."

In May, the People for Education estimated 121 schools will close over the next three years, most of which are in rural areas.

Hunter said the funding will help offset some of the unique challenges students in rural areas come up against including transportation. There will also be a focus on e-learning and programming for students with special needs.

"Schools are often the heart of a community," said Hunter. "We heard that we must do more to support rural and northern schools and communities."

Feedback was given through surveys and in-person consultations with the affected communities.