March 11, 2011                                                                                      

 

Independent Facilitator Concludes Welland ARC was “Thorough and Transparent”  

In her final report submitted to the Ministry of Education, provincial facilitator Joan Green concluded that the District School Board of Niagara conducted a thorough, inclusive and transparent accommodation review of schools in Welland.

In October, Ms. Green was appointed by Education Minister Leona Dombrowski to conduct an administrative review of the DSBN’s accommodation review process which took place during the course of the 2009-2010 school year. Ms. Green’s appointment was the result of an appeal made by residents of Welland. As part of the review, Ms. Green consulted with the ARC, DSBN Trustees, board staff and community members.

In her examination of the DSBN’s process, Ms. Green stated that she was confident that “the DSBN has conducted this review in good faith and with careful attention to the requirements of its policy and the needs and views of the communities affected.” Green went on to say that “there is no doubt that this Accommodation Review was thorough and substantial efforts were made to answer questions and to create a forum for discussion.”

Green also acknowledged that the ARC process had gone beyond simply asking members to provide feedback. “It also encouraged members to engage each other at a higher level by sharing interests, issues and ideas. Dialogue was focused on working through the information and issues as a group in the context of the committee’s common interest in best serving the needs of students while addressing the variables and issues at hand. As competing needs, values and priorities arose, the group sought information, developed in-depth understanding of the five school communities and made compromises in order to complete its challenging work,” wrote Green.

Noting that discussions around the future of school buildings are very difficult, DSBN Chair Kevin Maves expressed his gratitude to members of the ARC and the community for their time, expertise and thoughtful input. “By working with parents, the community and our partners, the Accommodation Review process becomes an opportunity to revitalize public education in a sustainable way that provides students with exceptional facilities and enhanced learning opportunities,” said Maves.

The report contained some constructive suggestions to improve the Accommodation Review process. Ms. Green suggests that schools have all the appropriate resources to keep their websites current with ARC meeting information and that the DSBN clarify the minimum number of meetings that a representative must attend in order to vote.  She also suggested alternate avenues the Accommodation Review Committee could explore to recruit a business representative. DSBN policy has since been updated to state that either a business or municipal representative is required to sit on the committee.

“We are pleased to receive this report which validates the dedication of staff and the committee to ensuring a positive outcome for students in Welland,” said Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education.

Ms. Green concluded her report by expressing that she believes “the DSBN will continue to work with its communities to conduct open and transparent processes that ensure students have the best learning environments possible.”

Click here to view the Ministry release and read the Provincial Facilitator’s report.