Written By: Wednesday, April 19th 2017

Not a lot of surprises to come from Tuesday night’s Bluewater District School Board meeting but still some unhappy groups of people.

Trustees voted for a number of recommendations including keeping Paisley Central school open for another two years while the board works with the community on coming up with a more long term solution to keeping the school in town.

The board will enter into an agreement with Arran Elderslie to offset the school’s operating deficit and continue to look for new partnerships.

Beavercrest Community school in Markdale will also stay open for at least one more year.

Trustees shortened the original two year extension to one in order to speed things up and the keep the momentum going on a possible new school.

One of the concerns was that they wanted approvals from the current Liberal government before the 2018 provincial election.

Trustee Jim Dawson told Dock News if a new school isn’t approved, the board will make sure Beavercrest stays open another year.

“I have a lot of confidence that our business plan for a new school will be approved by the Ministry of Education. Its a very solid plan with a lot of municipal and corporate support as well as support from within the board”.

The plan involves working with Grey Highlands and Chapman’s Ice Cream to offset the school’s operation.

It also involves an investigation into the $4 million dollar offer made by Chapman’s and developer Parataxis to construct a new school next to the Markdale Arena.

The decision that still has many upset is the one to scatter secondary school students from Chesley District Community School to other schools in Saugeen Shores, Hanover, Walkerton and Owen Sound depending on boundaries.

The vote there had three trustees against the motion – Marilyn McComb, the Georgian Bluffs/Chatsworth representative: Fran Morgan representing Meaford/Blue Mountains and Cheree Urscheler representing First Nations.

The Ag program will remain in Chesley as a satellite program.

Board Chair Ron Motz defended the contraversial decision.

“Declining enrolment makes it increasingly difficult to offer specialized programming at the school. By closing Chesley’s high school, we strengthen the other schools in the area by putting more students in those schools and enhancing the potential for more programming for everybody.”

Many at the meeting and on social media afterwards question why the board invested $4 million dollars in the school only a few years ago.

The board also approved accepting financial offers from Arran Elderslie and Grey Highlands to offset deficits at both elementary schools while working with Chapman’s Ice Cream and a local developer who’ve offered 4 million dollars to build a new school in Markdale.

Meanwhile Education Minister Mitzie Hunter will be in the region Wednesday afternoon for tours of Paisley Central and Beavercrest in Markdale.

Dock News will be joining her on those tours.