A Socio-Spatial Analysis of Communities Affected by Public School Closures in Ontario
School closure , Ontario , Planning , Geography
The prevalence of public school closures in Ontario is growing. Though schools provide extensive social benefits for communities they, the current Ministry of Education (MOE) model for determining school closures called Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines (PARG), principally relies on economic efficiency as criteria. In response to growing concern surrounding the inequity of the current model – with apprehension that vulnerable communities are the disproportionate targets —a moratorium on school closures was declared in June 2017 to revamp the model. The proposed research aims to fill the existing gaps in data and research on Ontario school closures to inform the creation of a model that minimizes hardship on vulnerable communities. Specifically, this research will produce a comprehensive and publicly- available dataset of pending and completed school closure locations in Ontario since the establishment of PARG in 2006 and a subsequent analysis that identifies socio-spatial inequities in Ontario school closures. This research will consist of four phases (school closure dataset creation; acquisition of community socioeconomic profiles; data harmonization; and spatial analysis) and will draw from Ontario public school board website archives for data creation and the 2017 Ontario Marginalization Index (ON-Marg), for existing socioeconomic data. This research will make important contributions to research, policy, and practice in its production of data and analysis that are presently non existent and its tremendous potential to influence policy that can protect vulnerable communities from the permanent loss of public schools.