A rally of about 30 people of all ages was held on Wednesday, February 8 in front of the Limestone District School Board offices on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston. It was a protest against the board’s proposal to close all the public schools in Stone Mills Township and the school Selby, starting with the Yarker Family School.
The Yarker Family School educates children from 3 years 8 months in Junior Kindergarten up to 8-9 years old in Grade 3.
“Closing this school would increase bus ride times for our youngest students to more than an hour each way. The possibility of being bullying and witnessing inappropriate behaviour by these very young children goes up the longer the bus ride.,” said Gail Knowles, one of the protestors.
Students from Yarker and Selby achieve the highest standardized test scores, #1 and #2 respectively, of all the schools in the Limestone board.
“The board has proposed that students from Yarker be sent to Odessa Public School where the test scores are #39th. This means more than half the Odessa students failed to meet provincial standards. Since the board rarely mentions scholastic achievement it would appear that school closures have more to do with balancing the financial books than anything else,” Knowles added.
According to Knowles, the provincial funding model has serious flaws, giving school boards money to build new schools but providing only limited funds to maintain schools that are already here.
“They are forcing students from their a rural school where they learn well, feel safe, and are fully supported by their parents, and sending them away from their home community to a large penitentiary sized school doesn’t seem to work certainly when the standardized test scores are compared.” she said.
Supporters of the Yarker School and other schools slate for closure in the near future are encouraged to express their opinion about possible school closures by writing to the Minister of Education and elected representatives.
Robin Hutcheon, chair of the group called Rural Schools Matter, holds her sign outside the Limestone District School Board offices on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston on November 8, 2017. She, along with about 30 others, are protesting the possible closure of all of the public schools in Stone Mills Township and the school in Selby.