March 9th, 2017

Documents show Wynne government closing schools based on bad numbers

An internal Liberal government document obtained by the NDP shows that the Wynne government knows it's closing schools based on skewed utilization numbers. 

'The Liberal government’s own internal notes are clear: they’re closing schools based on incorrect utilization numbers, and they know it,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

The concern is revealed in a ministerial briefing note the NDP obtained through access to information laws. In part, it reads: 

“Utilization does not typically recognize all programs/pupils currently using school space, such as: adult day school, fee-paying pupils, classroom space used for supplementary programs like ESL, alternative and continuing education programs, and programs offered through community partnerships (e.g. child-care programs). Buildings used for these programs/pupils appear as underutilized/empty in current utilization calculations even if they are all full capacity. If these buildings are closed/sold, there may not be accessible space available to support those programs.”

“Premier Wynne is choosing to ignore things like childcare centres and ESL programs when it comes to making decisions about schools on the chopping block,” said Horwath. “She has closed 277 schools just since 2011 at a time when communities all over the province are fighting to keep their schools open. The government is ignoring the valuable programs and classes being delivered to communities.” 

The briefing note also points out that this Wynne government policy is at odds with the community hubs initiative – a program meant to use schools for precisely those things Wynne is ignoring.

“She’s saying one thing, and doing another,” said Horwath. “She talks the talk when it comes to using schools to offer so much more to communities – from English classes to adult education and child care – but, in reality, her policy is to completely dismiss those very important things.” 

Horwath has been calling for an immediate end to all school closures.