Written By: Wednesday, April 19th 2017

Education Minister Mitzie Hunter got a first hand look at the two schools that will remain open for at least another year, thanks to community support.

Hunter visited a Grade 1/2 class at Paisley Central and a Grade 7/8 split at Beavercrest Community, both of which have won a reprieve from closing at least for the short term.

Community partnerships has been encouraged by the Education Minister as a solution to school closures in rural areas.

Hunter also met with Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen, Chapman’s Ice Cream CEO Ashley Chapman and Parataxis officials to discuss their offer of $4 million towards a community hub, that would include a school.

The Bluewater School Board says they will be submitting a business case for a new school for Markdale and Hunter says she is looking forward to reviewing the proposal.

She adds she is very supportive of schools doing these types of innovative projects and this is the reason why she sent a letter to school boards and municipalities across the province encouraging them to think about areas where they can collaborate.

Despite a warm welcome for Hunter at Beavercrest Community School and Paisley Central, it was contrasted by a protest by secondary students from Chesley District.

Between chants of “Save Our School” and “Moratorium Now”, Hunter spoke with one of the students, Nicole Burrows and explained why the closures were necessary, but Burrows was not happy with her response.

She says the Ministry is the reason they can’t go to a school they want to attend.

MPP Bill Walker was also present for the tours, but remain critical of the Education Minister.

He says communities and municipalities shouldn’t have to bail out the school board and once again called a moratorium for school closures in order to address the issues with the funding formula as it relates to rural schools.

Despite this criticism that the provincial funding formula favours schools in cities over those in the country, Hunter says these decisions are up to local boards.

She says there is no one-size-fits-all solution and they have to continue to rely on school board’s to make the right decisions.

For more on the decision made Tuesday night, click here.