NDP Education Critic and Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky was in Milton Wednesday lending her support to those rallying to keep Trillium Demonstration School open.
The protest drew a crowd of about two dozen supporters of the Ontario Street school for students with severe learning disabilities. Those in attendance had a message for Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Liz Sandals — demonstration and provincial schools cannot close their doors.
“The minister and premier say it (potential school closures) is not about money, but it’s all about money,” alleged Gretzky. “Based on the success of the schools, I don’t understand why they would consider closing them.”
Recently the Province held consultations addressing the future of five deaf and demonstration schools, including Milton’s Trillium Demonstration School — a process that left many fearing the facilities for severely dyslexic or deaf children will close for good in the name of budget savings.
The ministry is also eyeing Sagonaska Demonstration School in Belleville, Amethyst Demonstration School in London, Robarts School for the Deaf in London and Centre Jules-Leger in Ottawa, which serves French students who are deaf, deafblind and/or have severe learning disabilities.
The consultations concluded this spring, but the outcome has yet to be announced. In the interim, Gretzky put forth a motion at Queen’s Park to keep the demonstration schools open and expand their services. Despite full support from the NDP and PC representatives, the motion was defeated, with all Liberal MPPs voting it down.
Gretzky said since then, she has sent Sandals a letter reminding her that families are waiting for an answer on the future of the schools. She has yet to receive a response.
“My hope is she will recognize the value of all the schools and keep them open,” said Gretzky.
The three English demonstration schools across the province provide educational programs for approximately 120 students, who come to the programs significantly underachieving in some or all academic areas, and with immature social skills, states the Ministry of Education’s website. The students reside at the school for one to two years and return home on weekends.