“I will go for the best education for students”

Trustee Randy Wagler has unenviable task of deciding schools’ fate

Randy Wagler is one of nine trustees who will make the final decision about which school(s) to close. He is a chemical engineer and product manager for Honeywell, and his five children attended Exeter PS and South Huron DHS.

As told to Casey Lessard

I haven’t made up my mind. It’s early. We’re hearing the concerns, and there’s lots of time for more input.
In the end, the goal is to provide the best education we can for students. The best thing for communities is to have the best education for students. Sometimes, it may not be to have it in the particular setting people would like.
There are a number of criteria we consider. The first thing we look at is the impact on students. That has to do with the resources they have. If teachers can collaborate, that will affect their education. We do look at the financial implications because if we don’t have the right finances, that costs students as well. It’s not one or the other. They’re linked.
It makes a community strong when kids get the best education. I realize it’s a challenge, but I will go for the best education for students. If money were not an issue, we might not be doing this. But even then, it’s better when we can put more teachers grouped together to collaborate to improve education.

I think people are now at the point where they’re ready to give some input. It is a difficult process because it may mean some change, which is always a challenge for people. Some of the municipal councils have tried to stop the process or delay it, but the trustees believe the time frame for getting input is reasonable. The committee will be finished its work in March, and they’re ready to start sifting through the information and analyze and give input about the different scenarios.
Some solutions will result in more savings or less savings. There are lots of empty spaces, so that costs us money to keep those spaces open. We don’t have any indication that the ministry will give us any money for capital changes. There’s no influx of money. Given that, the lowest capital options are probably favoured, but we have to look at how it affects students.
I would like a long-term solution so we don’t have to review this within the next 10 years, and one that results in improving education for the students in our area.

We have strong communities. There are lots of communities around that are strong but don’t necessarily have a school in their town, Bayfield as one example. I don’t think it’s the only prerequisite for a strong town. Hopefully people see that, and rally around the quality of education for their students.