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Trustee convinces school board to rethink ARC process


The schools in Clearview Township can breathe a little easier for the moment as the accommodation review process by the Simcoe County District School Board has been dropped.

Trustee Caroline Smith introduced the motion to drop the review process in October. The motion passed in a seven-to-five vote at last week's board meeting. Smith said she was thrilled with the outcome.

"It the first time in Ontario a board has stopped an ARC process," she said in a telephone interview. "It's pretty darn amazing and a very positive outcome."

The ARC process began early last June to "deal with facility and student accommodation issues, focusing on Byng, Duntroon, Clearview Meadows, Nottawasaga- Creemore, and Nottawa elementary schools," said Smith.

At that time, the group was organized under the 2006 Ontario Government Accommodation Review Guidelines, she explained, despite an outpouring of public criticism from around the province about the content of those guidelines.

On June 26 Smith said the Ministry of Education released new guidelines that focused on improvements in consultation and decision making processes within the ARC process.

"A clause within the new 2009 ARC guidelines allowed for a transition period, and required that ARC's convened after Sept. 30, 2009 were to use the new guidelines. ARC E found itself in an odd place and space in time; convened under the old guidelines, but yet not having any substantive business of the ARC completed, by Sept. 30, 2009," she said.

At it turned out, those new guidelines won't be prepared until the new year.

"After much discussion, ARC E weighed its options and passed a unanimous motion, to delegate the SCDSB Facilities Committee to voice their concerns," she said. "The deputation requested that ARC E be disbanded until the Board has developed its new policies and procedures for the revised guidelines that could be operational bases of the ARC."

The motion eventually passed at last week's meeting cancelled the entire process, said Smith. That doesn't mean the board can't convene another ARC group eventually, but any new committee struck will operate under the revised guidelines.

"That's a significant victory for transparency and public disclosure," she said. "This has been a tremendous example of how change can happen; that results are not all predestined and a positive example of what happens when people work as a team. I include the ARC E members, the wider public and the trustees in this grouping. It would not have been possible to have the ARC's wishes actioned without the support of the board; this is an example of good government inaction."

An Accommodation Policy Review Meeting will be held at Stayner Collegiate Institute on Tuesday at 7 p. m., Smith said.

"This is for all of Clearview Township and Collingwood."

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