People for Education conducted a study of Ontario accommodation reviews this spring and has produced an interactive map of schools to be closed in the province’s 72 school boards.
School Closings 2017
More than 100 schools recommended to close
There are a number of steps in the school closing process, including recommendations from school board staff, recommendations from an Accommodation Review Committee and a final vote by the board of trustees.
People for Education’s analysis shows that of the 34 school boards with school closings planned:
- school board staff have recommended that 121 schools close – most of them between June 2017 and June 2020;
- as of April 30, 2017, trustees have voted to close 58 of the recommended schools;
- school board votes are pending for a further 52 of the schools that staff have recommended to close;
- there are approximately 33,000 students in schools recommended to close; and
- 25 new schools are proposed; most consolidating student populations from two or more closing schools.
Map highlights geographic divide
The map shows that the vast majority of recommended school closings are in rural areas, mainly in Southern Ontario.
School boards affected by declining enrolment and changes to the funding formula
The majority of funding provided to school boards by the province is based on numbers of students; and in the last 15 years, enrolment has declined by 71,364 students in the boards with schools that are closing. This has resulted in funding cuts.
Recent changes to the provincial funding formula, including cuts to declining enrolment grants and “top-up” funding for school operations, have also had a significant impact on funding, particularly for those boards with a high number of small and/or under-enrolled schools.
Changes to school closing guidelines
In March 2015, the province released a new Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline, which outlines the minimum standards required for school boards in developing their pupil accommodation review strategies. Among other things, the new guidelines reduced the minimum number of meetings and the amount of time for the school closing process.
This report would not have been possible without our amazing team of volunteer researchers. Thank you to Shirin Abdmolaei, Heather Clark, Norah Dillon-Cheetham, Nadia Ghanny, Mike Gill, Puja Patel, and Cathlin Sullivan. A special thank you to Midhat Aqeel for conducting the data analysis and creating the interactive map.