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Read all about it in the recent headlines; ĎMcGuinty slams faith school plan.í He believes that Ďonly the Catholic Schools should be funded. Tory leader of the opposition, Progressive Conservatives wants to fund all faith-based schools in Ontario.

For many years the province covered Roman Catholic studentís education costs to the end of grade ten. The parents picked up the tab for grades 11-13. Conservative leader Bill Davis changed the formula in 1985 for Catholic students to have their entire secondary school education fully funded.

The Catholic Board of Education in the London area is in financial difficulty with their costs, $3.3 million, budget shortfall then their grants structure from the Ontario Department of Education. Last year as my memory serves me the R C board was doing well. The Thames Valley School Board was faced with the reality of closing schools, cutting back on bussing & programs The TVDSB continues to face the pressure of more than 11,000 excess classroom spaces based on the Ministry of Educationís calculations.

The R C board is presently facing a slight decline in itís elementary school enrollment while at the same time itís secondary school space allotment is 1.5 schools short of the need.

Folks I have a very simple solution to the monetary/enrollment problems faced by our two boards of education in the area. How about we think about the unthinkable and amalgamate the two boards into one entity.

I know some of you will want to quote the British North America Act that guaranteed funding for Catholic Education. The province of Quebec at one time had four autonomous boards of education. They now have only two, English and French. Newfoundland had a total of seven religious boards of education to administer the education of their declining population; that has now been cut to one.

Recently the London Board of education was able to blend the three counties of Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford into the present, ELMO, into the Thames Valley School Board.

Think about the savings that twinning the boards would bring. One Director of Education instead of the present two.

One set of trustees instead of the two meeting in one education centre. Trustees Paul Whitehead and Terry Roberts sitting at the same table to solve the present concerns of declining enrollments regardless of religion.

Take a drive on Viscount Road west of Wonderland and you will discover Saunderís Secondary with itís feeder school Westmount (TVDSB) right next door to Jean Vanier( R C) with two staffs under the auspices of two boards of education.

We donít have to have two bus systems, two sets of board of education personal duplicating each others efforts to provide a viable education for our youth. A blending of religions under one beautiful umbrella would do wonders in breaking down negative stereotypes. Jews, Moslems, Catholics, Christians, students appreciating each others faiths as classmates should be the norm.

I believe that we need one well publicly funded responsible public school system for all of our students regardless of diversity.

Take a moment of your time mom/dad and ask your children if they are concerned about their classmates religious beliefs. Perhaps the imminent threat of closing of schools in the community is more important. Heck, the students have enough problems trying to cope with the new university rigorous Math/Physics curriculum.

To affect positive change we need your input. Please contact your area trustee, M P P and discuss the matter. Remember itís your hard earned taxes that fund our education system.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com