npiuuwh · 2021-11-10

Motion to close SCI back on the table

An item that contradicts recommendations regarding a review of area high schools has been added to the agenda of an upcoming Simcoe County District School Board meeting.

But trustee Caroline Smith says addition of the item is unusual and is in contravention of the board’s bylaws.

Orillia trustee Debra Edwards put forward a notice of motion at the end of an April 22 board meeting – the motion that is now on the agenda of the board’s June meeting.

The motion calls for the closure of Stayner Collegiate Institute, planning for improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Midland Secondary School and conducting an attendance review of the catchment areas of all schools included in the review.

"Rather than be a maverick and make motion at the June regular board meeting I am attempting to be very transparent and forthcoming and the notice of motion would publicize the intention," said Edwards told The Sun.

"The committee recommendations don’t mean you are out of the woods."

She said she will be bringing forward another notice of motion at this month’s board meeting to add the closure of Penetanguishene Secondary School. Edwards said she meant to bring it forward at the last meeting but it was overlooked.

She said she would have been in her right to put forward the motions at the June meeting but she wanted people to know that the closure of the three schools would be back on the table.

However, Smith, the trustee for Collingwood and Clearview, believes the tabling of the notice of motion at the last meeting contravened the board’s bylaws.

She said there’s no substance to the notice of motion and she is concerned people are trying to skirt the area high school accommodation review process that’s playing out.

At a special facility standing committee held April 14, trustees voted on recommendations regarding area high schools under review, made by school board staff.

Smith and other trustees took issue with voting at the meeting because originally the staff report was only to be received for information.

The accommodation review committee (ARC), a volunteer community committee struck to find solutions to enrolment issues in the area, also believed no voting would take place that night.

Staff said the timeline had been changed during the process.

Board staff have recommended closing Stayner Collegiate, Penetanguishene Secondary School and Elmvale District High School in favour of building a central school for Wasaga Beach and parts of Springwater Township, where Elmvale is located, transferring Penetanguishene students to Midland and expanding Collingwood Collegiate, to accommodate students who attend Stayner Collegiate. The scenario would see three schools serve the entire area.

"The end output was kind of a mixture of things," said Smith.

But trustees voted to keep Stayner Collegiate and Penetanguishene Secondary School open and voted in favour of closing Elmvale in favour of a central school that would also serve Wasaga Beach. They also voted for two of the recommendations made by the ARC. Trustees recommended renovating and removing excess capacity at Midland Secondary School.

"Some people walked away thinking they were out of the woods and that is not the case," said Edwards adding that the final decision is the one made by trustees on June 17.

Edwards’ motion reflects the recommendations made by school board staff.

Providing notice of motion allows the item to be placed on the next agenda. Severn, Ramara and Tay trustee Jodi Lloyd, who chairs the facility standing committee, seconded Edwards’ notice of motion.

"This is completely out of order if these motions are tied to the ARCs because the business of the ARC is going through a process which is in gear already," said Smith.

"In a way it’s usurping the whole process – that the ARC provides its recommendation, the staff provide its recommendation, the board makes its recommendation from that information, the public then knows where the board is going and can come and deputate and then the board makes its final decision."

Smith said the notice of motion was not disclosed before it was seconded, despite having asked what it contained.

She said Adjala-Tosorontio and Essa trustee Robert North asked that it be read aloud and it was.

Before she knew what was contained in the notice of motion, Smith gave notice of another motion that renovations be made to Stayner Collegiate Institute to replace the portable complex located at the school with a permanent addition.

Smith said she knew her motion was out of order, as she believes Edwards’ motion to be, but both passed.

"I object vehemently that this could be tied to any thought of giving notice. This is nothing other than one trustee giving her opinion as to a motion. And what’s even worse is that our bylaws say a motion has to go to the next meeting and in her motion she says she wants it to go to the June 17 meeting," said Smith.  

Smith said according to procedure, the motion will put the item at the top of the agenda and dealt with at the beginning of the meeting.

Trustees are still waiting to hear public input at the last round of delegations on May 14. Depending on how many people schedule a delegation, it is possible other meeting could be added.

Smith said procedure can be a dry topic but it’s not to be taken lightly.

"Because we are in a bigger process, we’re in a guideline process from the government and a guideline has the same value as a regulation so it’s a very powerful thing when you get a set of guidelines from any ministry," said Smith. "There is lot of legalese in here that people don’t actually recognize but things have to be done and markers have to be hit. And one of the things that has to be done is that once the ARC came in then we have this meeting and allow a certain amount of time for people to know where we were going so that they could deputate – its very hard to deputate when you haven’t got a clue where they are going."

Anyone to make a delegation regarding ARC B must provide a copy of his or her presentation outline by 1 p.m. on Thurs., May 7 for the May 14 special board meeting.

Delegations will also be accepted for the board decision meeting on June 17. Individuals requesting to make a delegation at the June 17 meeting must provide a copy of their presentation outline by 1 p.m. one week prior to the meeting.

Both meetings take place at the board’s administration centre in Midhurst, located at 1170 Hwy. 26.

Delegation requests should be directed to Lena Robyn at lrobyn@scdsb.on.ca or call (705) 734-6363 ext. 11231.

A delegation process brochure is available at www.scdsb.on.ca.