Opinion – Harrow High School remains empty

Filed under: Opinion |

by Fred Groves

In just a few more weeks, doors will open and bells will ring as students return to the classroom.

For those students who live in Harrow, this marks the second-year anniversary of their forced exodus out of town.

And when I say ‘out of town,’ I mean that quite literally.

In October of 2016, the Greater Essex County District School Board announced after 112 years, there would be no need for a secondary school in Harrow.

I respect the school board’s decision on this because everything, no matter what the situation, ultimately it comes down to dollars and cents. Not enough students meant they could not in good faith afford to keep the lights on.

I respect it, but I don’t agree with it.

Students are now bused to Kingsville. That’s not even in the same town, which brings me to an interesting question.

Those who live in Harrow pay taxes, which keep schools operational. It would be quite interesting to see the book work by the bean counters on this. Do the taxes collected by ratepayers in this community now go to Kingsville?

When the decision to close Harrow High was being pondered, Essex District High School was in the midst of a rebuild. I guess those who make the decisions didn’t think about making that facility a little bigger so students from Harrow could attend and at least stay in their own town.

No one has a crystal ball they can look into in order to determine how many school-aged people will be living in any particular community. Estimates are made, but it’s still a roll of the dice.

I am a firm believer, like all those who protested against the closure, that a school is more than a place of education. It’s more than bricks and mortar. History (bye-bye Hawks) and a sense of belonging to your community are also important.

Those who fought so hard to keep their school open should be commended because they knew they were losing more than just a school. For some parents, it was a one-two punch to the gut as earlier the public school had been closed.

I keep hearing the buzz words ‘community hub’, when it comes to what should or could be done with the high school in Harrow, but so far nothing has happened other than town officials touring the building and saying that yes, there is still life, but it will take some big bucks and creative thinking to revitalize and get things operational.

Essex Council has said they want to buy it.

Perhaps if they wait long enough, maybe, just maybe, by then there will be more school-aged children living in town and they can return to their own school.