Interest in the Catholic School Board is increasing as the ongoing labour strife between the Province of Ontario and the teachers’ unions continues. Current job actions, the possibility of the withdrawal of volunteer work before and after school, and a lack of extracurricular activities has parents looking towards a Catholic education to make up for lost services at the public board.
While parents may want to opt out of the public board and switch to the Catholic one, Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) Public Relations Officer Scott Scantlebury explained that such a course of action may prove difficult because “we have more or less a principle between ourselves and our coterminous board that we only accept and discourage generally transfers during the school year.”
“One of the most difficult things for a child is school transition, so we want to limit transitions wherever possible, and whenever possible,” stated Scantlebury.
While at the beginning of any school year transfers are rarely questioned, Scantlebury explained that unless a student is moving or relocating to another area, both boards discourage the practice.
Financially, each student is worth approximately $10,000 per year to the Board through provincial funding is concerned and Scantlebury explained that while schools are funded based on the number of students that you have, declining enrollment “impacts your overall ability to offer some programs, and it impacts your ability to fund your level of enrollment … fewer students means fewer staff.”
“It is a very serious matter [which] we take very seriously,” stated Scantlebury, “most of us believe very deeply in public education [and a lack of funding], impacts the Board’s ability to deliver the level of excellence that we demand and expect in our board. When you have funding decreases…something has to give.”
Scantlebury explained that the board has tried to communicate a message to the community that they’re hopeful that the current situation will be resolved soon and that “it won’t be a two-year drought for extracurricular [activities], at either our elementary and secondary schools…and we remain hopeful.”
With the majority of extracurricular activities – sports, musicals and plays, and even student government at some schools – having been cancelled, Scantlebury explained that whether appropriate staff supervision is available is what dictates whether or not an activity can occur.
Students graduating this year need not fear their proms being cancelled because according to Scantlebury “the supervision of those activities has been taken over in most of our high schools by administration … that guarantees that those proms will happen this spring.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.