Chapman’s Ice Cream is coming to the rescue of an elementary school in rural Ontario.
And no – it’s not to deliver a pick-me-up sugar rush to the children.
After the only school in the community of Markdale, Ontario faced the threat of shutting down, the ice cream company offered to spend about $1 million to buy the building and lease it back to the board.
They would invest in repairs and upgrades to modernize Beavercrest Community School.
The move is a generous and sentimental one, but also a little self-serving as well.
“Simply put, for the first time in literally decades, we have people wanting to invest in this area, this community and this town,” said vice-president Ashley Chapman, according to the Toronto Star. He said that Chapman’s has started the first phase of a major expansion and plans to employ about 1000 people within the next five years.
Chapman himself attended the school.
The community is also seeing “several proposals for subdivisions” and plans are in place to break ground on others.
“When we are finally at the point where the town is going to explode,” said Chapman.
But it doesn’t help new employees, residents and their families if the only school is set to close. Chapman fears developers will turn away.
Beavercrest is one of an estimated 600 schools under threat of closure across the province.
Yesterday, parents protested at Queen’s Park, saying that rural school closings, in particular, are troublesome to students, forcing them to commute long distances ito school and making extracurricular activities or jobs especially challenging.
As the Toronto Star reports, the parents are asking the government for a moratorium until changes are made, arguing that the process doesn’t include a true consultation.
Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters yesterday that the revamped closing process “ensures parent voices are heard,” but decisions are ultimately up to local boards prior to a consultation process with the community.
Sadly, not all communities have businesses like Chapman’s to come and scoop up their troubled schools. That is, if the company is even allowed to. Chapman says he isn’t certain whether the plan will fly given the existing rules, but is in talks with the school board.
It sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us.