Ministry of Education sets out where it wants to go with a review of how the decision to close a school is made by a school board.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2017



It is a little like closing the barn door with the horses already out and on the run but “better late than never” is perhaps an appropriate phrase to describe the provincial government decision to take another look at the way the decision to close schools are made.

In a media release the Ministry of Education said it was committed to revising its Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline (PARG) and Community Planning and Partnerships Guideline (CPPG).

“We heard that there is a need to strengthen the pupil accommodation review process for all school boards and to better encourage joint responsibility for integrated community planning across Ontario” said Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education..

“Through this process, we will make certain that:

Utilization levels high schools

The Halton District School Board set out utilization numbers in their initial report that many parents looked questioned. The Ministry wants to see better information made available to the public.

“We are placing an emphasis on open and effective communication and partnership between school boards and communities;

“Decisions about the future of our schools consider a range of community and student impacts; and that Boards work collaboratively to consider joint-use solutions where possible.”

The Ministry statement pertained to both Pupil Accommodation Review and Guideline Community Planning and Partnerships Guidelines; this report will focus on just the Pupil Accommodation Review and the decision-making around school closures.

The ministry’s proposed revisions to the PAR aim to create a stronger, more collaborative process that better promotes student achievement and well-being and better recognizes the impact of school closures. The ministry proposes to achieve this by considering the elements.

PARC public - Dec 8 - 16

Public meeting participants responding to questions that we put on on a screen – Many felt that the questions were skewed from the get go and they began to mistrust the Board from the very first meting.

Revising Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) timeframes:

Extending the current minimum PAR timeframe beyond five months;

Eliminating the minimum modified PAR timeframe of three months; and/or

Further extending time-frames under specific circumstances, such as if new closure recommendations are added mid-way through the accommodation review process.

Gerry Cullen

Superintendent of Facilities Gerry Cullen provided data that he admittedly found confusing – it was the best they could do at the time – the Ministry appears to be suggesting that school boards will have to do better.

Introducing minimum requirements for the initial staff report by requiring school boards to include:

At least three accommodation options (a recommended option, an alternative option and a status quo option).

Information on how accommodation options will impact:

School board budget;
Student programming /achievement;
Student well-being; and
Community and/or economic impact.

Promoting community input in the PAR processes by requiring:

School boards to invite elected municipal representatives and municipal staff to a meeting to discuss the initial staff report;

School boards to disclose municipal participation / non-participation in PAR and Community Planning and Partnership (CPP) processes;

A broader role for trustees throughout the PAR process, beyond ad hoc membership of Accommodation Review Committees, hearing public delegations and making the final decision; and

A participatory role for secondary student representatives in PARs involving secondary schools.

Reforming the PAR administrative review process by:

Extending the time frame to submit an administrative review petition from 30 to 60 calendar days; and
Reviewing the signature thresholds and requirements for launching an administrative review request.

Developing ministry supports, such as:

A PAR toolkit to standardize type and format of initial staff report information;

A template for use by community partners to engage boards with proposed alternatives to school closures or other proposals for community use of schools; and

New support for the review and validation of initial staff report information and community proposals by independent third parties.

The public consultation on revising the Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline will be conducted in two phases:

Phase 1: Discussion Questions

The first phase of the consultation will focus on collecting feedback on the areas of change listed above, as well as other proposed changes to the PARG.  This phase will run from October 12, to December 6, 2017.

Phase 2: Revisions and Editing

In January 2018, the ministry will post a draft of the revised pupil accommodation review guideline and community planning and partnerships guideline for further public feedback.

This draft will be informed by what we heard during Phase 1. The ministry will also post a summary of all Phase 1 feedback.

The Ministry is asking the public for input:

Do you think the ministry’s proposed revisions to the PARG will create a stronger, more collaborative process?

If not, why? Are there other elements the ministry should consider?

If yes, do you have suggested improvements or comments on the elements being proposed?

Do you think the above measures to support improved coordination of community infrastructure planning will work to promote sustainable use of school space in communities?

If not, why? Are there other elements the ministry should consider?

If yes, do you have suggested improvements or comments on the elements being proposed?

When making decisions about school infrastructure within communities, what measures could be conducive to fostering collaboration and cooperation between municipalities and school boards?

Pubmeet politicians BL-JT-PS

Several of the public meetings were packed – there were city council members at the meetings – there was a public that wanted information. They don’t feel they got what they were entitled to.

To submit your thoughts and ideas on revising the PARG please send your feedback with the subject line “Revising the PARG and CPPG” to

These are very wide ranging proposed changes.  Had they been place in October of 2016 when the Halton District School Board announced it was going to hold a PAR would the outcome have been  any different?

The public would certainly have had much better information.  The Gazette works from the assumption that an informed public can make informed decisions.

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1 comment to Ministry of Education sets out where it wants to go with a review of how the decision to close a school is made by a school board.

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Ontario Ministry of Education Survey can be found at:

    Please take the time to respond to the Ontario Ministry of Education survey questions prior to Dec 6th. The first question relates to the Program Accommodation Review Guidelines (school closures) and the other two questions are associated with Community Planning and Partnership Guidelines. I only responded to question 1 because I do not have sufficient experience to respond to questions 2 & 3.

    When responding to question 1, please consider our recent experience and consider whether any of the proposed elements might have changed the Burlington Secondary School PAR decisions. Please pay particular attention to those proposed elements which may either strengthen or hinder the role that our elected Trustees and/or third parties play in the PAR process.