Councillors have thrown their backing behind a motion asking Chatham-Kent to play a more active role concerning local school closures.
East Kent Coun. David VanDamme entered the successful motion during Monday’s combined regular/planning meeting.
“Our job is to make communities better and move them forward,” he said.
The motion was voted on as separate questions. A request to assess the financial impact of closures or accommodation reviews was rejected.
However, council did approve providing a liaison through the mayor’s office with municipal departments and Lambton Kent District School Board and local school committees to share information and provide non-financial support working together towards a solution for rural school closings.
Mayor and council will also lobby Premier Kathleen Wynne, as well as Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter and local MPPs, and raise the issue at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
VanDamme said there are economic repercussions whenever a school is closed in a community. He believes the municipality needs to be proactive.
He said having a school nearby is a significant asset.
“We run the risk of losing residents who want to call Chatham-Kent their home,” he said.
Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor, who asked to separate the questions, said she sympathized with the concern, but that it doesn’t fall within the municipality’s jurisdiction.
She added that as a former trustee she’s aware of how difficult the issue is for school boards.
“I sat on accommodation review committees that have studied many communities and many schools,” she said. “I will assure you right now this is not an…
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