Arran-Elderslie Mayor Worried Paisley School Will Close Its Doors

The inclusion of Paisley and Chesley schools in an accommodation review is coming as no surprise to the mayor of Arran-Elderslie.

Paul Eagleson says the community has known for a while that the Bluewater District School Board would eventually include its schools in an ARC review, though he had no idea or warning it would happen this quickly.

Board trustees voted earlier this week at a Committee of the Whole meeting to begin ARC reviews, including one in Arran-Elderslie and Saugeen Shores that could potentially see the closure of Paisley Central School, while ending secondary school programming at Chesley District Community School, reducing it to a kindergarten to Grade 8 school.

Eagleson says it would be a particularly devastating blow to Paisley.

"You know, we're trying to move Paisley ahead, I've been working for six years, five-and-a-half years to get natural gas here to move [Paisley] ahead, and boom, they're going to take the public school," says Eagleson. "It's a tough one to just openly accept."

Eagleson says they have known for some time that the Paisley school would be on the chopping block, adding they came up with a proposal to move their OPP office into the school to boost revenues, but were told that would not be allowed.

He's confident the community will be heavily involved in the ARC process, but Eagleson says his fear is that trustees already know what they're going to do.

"We have to sit down through that ARC process, I hope we got lots of input through that ARC process to see what other options there are to keep [Paisley Central] open," says Eagleson. "At the end of the day, I'm pretty worried [trustees] have already made up their mind."

Eagleson says he has not had any contact with board staff or trustees and did not learn of the accommodation review until hearing the story on Blackburn News.

Trustees will vote at the regular board meeting on September 20th as to whether or not to proceed with the proposed accommodation reviews.

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