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School board to hold second vote on closing Widdifield

The Board of Trustees will re-vote on the secondary school consolidation at the September 24, regular board meeting
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2019 0623 near north district school board logo on wall 1 turl
Near North District School Board head office.

It appears the battle over high school consolidation in North Bay isn't over yet after the Near North District School Board agreed to revisit the issue.

It comes on the heels of an Ombudsman's report that found the Board failed to follow a fair and transparent process in closing Widdifield.

See: Near North School Board failed to follow a fair and transparent process in closing Widdifield says Ontario Ombudsman

And: Ombudsman findings a 'victory for the Board and citizens' says Aspin

Now the Board has agreed to implement the recommendations contained in the Ombudsman’s Final Report

That includes one with respect to the secondary school consolidation:

“The Near North District School Board should prepare a new final staff report that explains the additional information received in the summer of 2017 and that was discussed in private in September 2017. It should present the report to trustees as part of a public meeting, afford community members an opportunity to comment on it, and then take a new vote on the secondary school consolidation.”

A news release from the Board this morning says "the new final staff report and attached documentation will be presented to the Board of Trustees at a Special Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, August 19 at 6 p.m.  Following this meeting the report and attached documentation will be posted to the NNNDSB website in order to provide the public with an opportunity to review and provide comments."

Any comments will be compiled and presented to the Board of Trustees at the September 10, Committee of the Whole meeting beginning at 6 p.m. 

Anyone wanting to speak about the issue will need to register with the Board Office by noon on Friday, September 6.

The Board of Trustees will re-vote on the secondary school consolidation at the September 24, regular board meeting beginning at 6 p.m.

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé, in his report, said his investigation revealed that meetings and details were never made public.

"My Office’s preliminary assessment of the situation identified that there were serious issues involving the transparency of the decision-making process, including concerns that the school board’s trustees had held several closed-door meetings to discuss the school consolidation and closure.

"Between March 8 and April 2, 2018, my Office received eight complaints about the decision to close Widdifield Secondary School, many of which focused on the lack of transparency in the trustees’ decision-making process. The decision and subsequent unrest also attracted considerable local media attention."

Board Chair Jay Aspin told BayToday the Board will comply with all 14 recommendations in the report.

"Our board will be following the recommendations of the Ombudsman's report in requesting our Director to provide us with a report that identifies the missteps of what actually happened, rectifying the steps and holding a public meeting to make this information public before we revisit and re-vote on the consolidation in a pubic meeting."




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Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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