The notion of having no trustee representation past grade eight does not appeal to the local separate school board.
In fact, Education Director Paul Jackson said continual lobbying will be done to the Education Improvement Committee in Toronto until it agrees to include a separate school trustee position for the new district public school board.
“I can say it is a concern of both the Fort Frances-Rainy River separate board and the Dryden separate board,” Jackson said yesterday from his office in Dryden.
Neither the local nor Dryden board are non-extended, meaning their education systems only go up to grade eight. Both boards have made arrangements to send their students to high schools in the public system—a fact that won’t change under the new district board that takes effect Jan. 1.
Linda Pruys, the current separate school trustee on the local public board, said the position was cut based on a population equation provided by the government.
“The numbers didn’t warrant it though it wasn’t very much short,” she said.
Her biggest worry, however, is representation. Removing the separate school trustee from the public school board effectively cuts some parents’ say in how their children are schooled.
“There just won’t be any voice looking after the concerns of Catholic high school kids,” she said.
“What we’re being told is we will have a say by being part of school councils,” Jackson added, questioning exactly how much authority a school council will have.
“I’m not sure if that answer suits our ratepayers.”
Even though separate school taxes would be redirected to pay for separate school students in the high school, a ratepayer’s designation would not switch over.
That means separate system ratepayers with children in a public high school could not run as a public school trustee.
“It’s a group of people paying tax with no representation,” Pruys remarked.
“They really only have a say in their children’s education at the elementary level,” Jackson said.
“We have our children attending those high schools. We need to have a say on the board,” he stressed.