By Stew Slater
The public is invited to a meeting tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 6) at Chalmers United Church in Kintore to hear about plans to fight the proposed closure of the village’s A.J. Baker Public School by the Thames Valley District School Board.
A resolution passed in late January by Thames Valley trustees approved the creation of an Accommodation Review Committee (ARC). Its role will be to make recommendations regarding an administration plan to close A.J. Baker effective September, 2015, and send students to Embro or Thamesford.
Less than a week after walking out of the meeting in London at which the decision was made, Uniondale-area parent Marcus Ryan invited neighbours to his home to discuss next steps. “People were very keen,” he said of the informal gathering, which attracted about a dozen concerned parents. “They came with ideas and ready to take action.”
The first action taken was to book the Chalmers church for what Ryan says will be an opportunity to present “to the larger community” how the group of parents wants to proceed, as well as gather input and suggestions. Invited guests include Township of Zorra Mayor Margaret Lupton and Ward Councillor Jim Verwer.
Ryan’s most glaring concern is a suggestion by Thames Valley administrators that funding provided by the province for the implementation of full-day Kindergarten be directed toward an addition at Thamesford Public School. He asserts that a portion of this funding was provided based on the changes necessary to provide full-day K at A.J. Baker, and shouldn’t be used elsewhere.
It would be one thing, he says, if the Kintore school closed before September, 2014, the date the ministry will require all-day K in each and every school. But, given the timelines of the recently-approved ARC and the regulations surrounding the closure of schools, it’s impossible for that to happen.