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Northern Road

Northern Road is a blog by an American expat who moved her life to Finland in 2007. This blog is about her life and adventures in the political landscape of the country.

Addressing the school closings

Jennifer, julkaisu 20.11.2013

Last night was the city council meeting to decide Vantaa’s budget for the coming year. The entire meeting lasted over four hours, as well as an hour or two beforehand where the individual parties met in separate groups to discuss the evening’s agenda and goals. Despite all that time, it only took less than a minute’s time for the actual vote to be cast which decided whether two of Vantaa’s schools would close or stay open. Months of campaigning, both for and against the decision, came to a head in that moment. The votes were cast, and the schools’ shared future was settled. They would be closed.

Those for closing the schools wished to do so to cut spending in the city economy. In a city with a debt of a little over one billion euros, closing two schools for a total yearly “savings” of about four hundred thousand a year, seems quite futile. 

Those opposed, wished to keep their children at a nearby, healthy school which boasted high results. Personally, I am incredibly disappointed that the schools were slated to be closed. There are three schools in my neighborhood. Now that the largest one is closing, the other two will grow in size. From an immigrant’s point of view, this saddens me greatly because with the growth of the student body, comes more anonymity, more chances of exclusion, of being a stranger, of falling between the proverbial cracks. There’s less community. Immigrant children already have a hard enough time in schools of manageable sizes, let alone the larger ones, and my neighborhood has quite a few immigrant residents.

Itä-Vantaan Kokoomus campaigned to keep the school in our immediate area open. We published a statement, we sent it to Vantaan Sanomat (unfortunately, the paper decided not to publish), we participated in an event that tried to rally the community to come together to oppose the decision to close. We tried.

I watched the votes come in from the live feed of the council room on Despite knowing pretty well how unlikely my party’s city council representatives would vote against closing the schools, I still hoped six might vote no. Instead, only two cast that vote, out of eighteen Kokoomus representatives.

I understand why others voted as they did, but the point of this post is to say thank you to those two people who voted for keeping them open. Education is the great equalizer of society, so thank you for voting to preserve its accessibility to as many children as possible.

Lasse Norres and Raija Virta, thank you.

This blog represents my own personal views.

Avainsanat: Hakunila; schools; community; budget