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Strategies to resist school closures

Strategies to resist school closures 
Including the broader community, building connections between schools threatened with closures, and developing actions to influence decision-makers are important components in any campaign to save neighbourhood schools. The following strategies may be helpful to parents, teachers, and communities resisting school closures.

  1. Make sure the community knows about the closure
    1. Contact all parents at the school. Consider hosting a meeting for parents and other community members.
    2. Use community space to advertise meetings, provide updates, post concerns, recommend actions, and encourage community involvement.
    3. Post large signs or billboards beside schools threatened with closure, alerting the community to the need for action.
    4. Distribute and post handbills drawing attention to the issues.
    5. Submit letters to the editor of the newspaper to generate debate and inform the community.
    6. Hold a forum at the school and include a tour of the school and its classrooms.
    7. Encourage key community figures for comment on the closures at public meetings, in print, and in the press.
    8. Provide updates to radio, TV, and print reporters.
  2. Generate community support and action
    1. Consider a door-to-door blitz in the neighbourhood surrounding the schools to talk about the impact of closing the school, leave a handout with ways to get involved and/or collect signatures on a petition.
    2. Make a presentation to the city council and/or regional district.
    3. Ask neighbourhood businesses to join in campaigning to save the school, post notices, promote petitions, write letters to trustees, and make presentations to the school board and city council.
    4. Invite seniors, young adults, and others without children in school, to join in supporting the campaign.
    5. Include others who will be affected by closures. For example, solicit comment from realtors who understand how important an accessible school is to property values in a community, healthcare and environmental professionals who know the benefits of walking rather than driving to school, child development professionals who can attest to the impact on children of long days and travelling long distances on the bus, social planning professionals who can speak on the role of a neighbourhood school and neighbourhood connections, etc.
    6. Develop an e-mail network of parents and other concerned community members to provide information and quick updates.
  3. Question the need to close schools
    1. Encourage trustee allegiance to the community rather than to outside consultants.
    2. Call on trustees to work with the community on strategies to keep schools open.
    3. Ask trustees to submit a brief, requesting the funding needed to keep schools open, to government.
    4. Ask for full disclosure of school board budget information, including the financial rationale for closing schools, estimated savings, projected increase in transportation costs, details of board budget surpluses that may exist, etc. Draw on expertise in the community.
    5. Catalogue the financial costs downloaded onto parents and potential financial impact on the community when a neighbourhood school is closed.
  4. Build/Reinforce links between schools threatened with closure
    1. Actively avoid being pitted against other schools. This diverts attention from the source of the problem and from the decision-makers responsible.
    2. Share information and build a bond for joint work on resisting closures together.
    3. Consider creating a district-wide coalition to save schools from closure.
    4. Work together to secure and analyze relevant financial information.
    5. Create an e-mail list to share information quickly and develop joint responses.
    6. Build a resource bank, sharing expertise and contacts in communications, financial analysis, community planning, political action, economic development, etc.
  5. Influence the decisions and hold the decision-makers accountable
    1. Invite school trustees and MLAs to travel the distance that students will have to travel every day if the school is closed.
    2. Insist that the trustees, MLA(s), and school board officials meet with the school community to hear firsthand the impact of potential closures.
    3. Ask each trustee and the MLA(s) to report on what they are doing to keep schools in the community open. Post responses publicly and support any genuine efforts.
    4. Lobby by phone, e-mail and in person. Request meetings with trustees and the MLA(s) with delegations representing the various community concerns. Keep track of all requests for meetings and responses. Follow up in writing after all meetings.
    5. Have representatives attend all school board meetings to raise questions, talk with the press, talk with trustees informally, report to contacts network.
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