- by Danielle Valiquette, Green Party candidate, BGOS

All of us belong to a community. On the outside, those who live in urban centres seem to have very different agendas from us here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. But city or country, all of us want a strong and effective school system that will give our children the best possible future.

The community of Markdale has led by example. Like us in the Green Party, they know that a community’s heart is its school. It shouldn’t come down to the strength of a local business to stand up to the Provincial Government’s policy around school closures. That is why the Greens will place a moratorium on closing schools until there are clear guidelines. It is also why we feel that 60% capacity is our starting position for declaring a school ‘viable’.

Because of our rural nature, boards of education have had to be creative here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. Currently there are seven cross-panal schools in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. By combining both panels (elementary and secondary) under one roof, these were able to remain open, supporting their communities by allowing families to have a strong local school. Unfortunately, because of the antiquated funding system, children are not treated equally — even within these schools. Teachers in the elementary panal (JK - 8) have significantly less preparation time, more duty, and (in the case of grades four to eight) larger classes. It certainly must lead to some interesting discussions around the staff room table! The Greens would raise the funding of an elementary child to match those of their secondary schoolmates; and ensure grade four to eight classes match the current average for secondary students.

I like compact and connected communities. The Greens want to build inclusive neighbourhoods where we live, work, and play with access to parks, services, and vibrant local businesses. Supporting families, within strong communities, is very important to us. This is why I feel the Greens approach to education is good for all of us here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.