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The December board report on the numbers shows that some schools numbers have declined over the past couple of years.

Montcalm Secondary School numbers have gone from 1332 in 2006 to 883 in 2007. Westminister 1155 down to 899, Clarke Roadís school has lost over two hundred students.

Ross Secondary School has gone from 711 to 400 and Thames numbers are down with the full time equivalent in 2007 of only 379. There is a distinct probability that Londonerís will have to close/amalgamate schools to meet the Ontario Ministry of Education funding formula. The trustees have a dilemma on their hands of how to please everyone without making the parentís unhappy.

I have a suggestion: The Ross student numbers will fit in well with the Montcalm Cougars. They are both in the North end and draw their students from a similar social/economic pool.

How about the Thames students finding a new home with the Clarke Road Secondary School campus.

It is not just about numbers and shuffling the deck to please the ministry. It is about time that the Ross/Thames special students have the opportunity to mix with the so-called regular kids. The special needs staff allotment would go along with their students to assure a successful implementation.

When I was Head of Guidance at Ross I discovered that the vast majority of the students came from poor/single parent families. For registration purposes I sent out applications to all of the feeder schools North of Oxford Street which was our designated area. Strange I never received one applicant from Masonville or the other more affluent ( rich) public elementary schools in the area.

I was ticked off and actually called the principals to ask why there was no applicants. To my surprise I was told that their parents didnít see Ross as a positive alternative for their youngsters. Lucas/Central standards were probably too high but Beal Secondary was a lot more acceptable then sending their child to a designated school for special needs students.

You didnít have to be a poor/single parent family to be acceptable to Ross or Thames but the majority fit the description. Give each of these kids a chance at main streaming in a regular school and I bet the majority will find success. Ask any youngster on the bus on his way to Ross or Thames which school they attend and my bet is they will not tell you the painful truth. Better to lie a little then to admit that you attend a school for slow learners.

The first special needs school in Ontario was Castle Franks in Toronto. Strange the school closed and the students were transferred to other schools. I wonder why?

Students who graduate from Ross/Thames have very slim chance at achieving a post secondary education at Fanshawe College.

Letís do the special kids at Ross and Thames a big favour. Transfer them to Montcalm or Clarke Road and give them a chance.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com