Politician regrets seeking input on school closures

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After a surprise announcement this week that two local schools would be closing despite vocal opposition from local interest groups, one politician involved in the process believes the process could have handled better.

“We really dropped the ball on this one,” he admitted. “We were going to close the school no matter what anyone said. I think in hindsight opening it up for discussion was a mistake, and a bit of a dick move.”

Discussion around the closures has been heated, with many locals arguing strongly in defence of the schools and their communities. It appeared that the community was sending a clear message that they wanted to avoid closures, but that message was unknowingly being sent to deaf ears.

“What a waste of time,” lamented a community organizer. “We spent a lot of social energy here, collecting signatures, printing signs, organizing support, and in the end they weren’t even going to listen no matter what we did.”

When asked about how it should have been handled, the response came quickly. “Looking back now, I would have preferred it was quick and sharp, like pulling off a band-aid. Why stretch things out for so long when all you’re doing is building people up for more misery?”

Others were less mournful, having realized long ago that there was little hope that a closure could be avoided. They admitted that they had continued through the process as a “good exercise” in community organization, which can be drawn upon as valuable experience when an issue comes up which might actually be subject to discussion or persuasion.

Caught in the middle of it all, students were elated to hear that their school would be closing. The dream scenario of school being out “forever” spread through social media quickly. Once they were informed that they would continue to attend school, but in a different location, many resumed their traditional teen apathy and others rolled their eyes and were heard to remark “whatever…” before implanting earbuds and walking away.

The lasting effect of this closure would appear to be a deep mistrust of government bureaucracy and a disdain for decisions made by those with no real stake in the outcome, but other smaller issues may be proven by history to be the bigger burden. Things like the removal of the last blockade to relentless northward expansion of Queen’s University, or the potential use of the Memorial Centre grounds for a new larger school obstructing the future site of an XXLVEC, could be stumbling blocks in a future which will trace its woes to decisions made today.

While not quite the heart of a city, high schools are no doubt organic, on the level of a lung or kidney. The reorganization and redistribution of students, and the relocation of their school will create numerous changes and adjustments felt throughout the civic body on levels which are only just being considered. Being awake during the surgery will be trying, but the demeanour of the surgeon has come up lacking.

“It’s like they’re opening up our ribcage, and asking what we should keep,” fumed a local parent. “and when we say keep everything and make them healthy, they ignore us and cut it out instead.”

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