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Alert: Burlington Central High School at Risk of Closure

Burlington Central School at risk of closure

This just in: from the most recent newsletter from our Ward 1&2 HDSB Trustee Leah Reynolds. More to come on this.

Note: Community Meeting to organize a community response to the proposal Oct.11, 7pm, Wellington Square United Church, 2121 Caroline Street

Director recommends closure of two Burlington High Schools (Wards 2 & 4) in recommendation to commence PAR

Yesterday, the Director of Education submitted a preliminary report for trustees to consider starting a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) in every Burlington high school.

The initial scenario for discussion (option 19) recommends the closure of two Burlington high schools: Burlington Central and Lester B. Pearson along with boundary and program changes for Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS, MMRobinson HS, Nelson HS, Bateman HS and Aldershot School.

Trustees are to vote on whether to engage in a public consultation (PAR) on the staff report October 19. A PAR is a Ministry directed process that enables parents and community to share their perspective on the educational needs of their children and their views on the board’s specific proposal for change. The report says the closure recommendation is a starting point of consultation and may not represent the final recommendation that will come before the Board in May 2017. It can change as a result of public consultations and further investigation. Also in the report is the consideration of hiring an independent third party consultant to conduct the public discussions.

Leah’s thoughts:

As trustee, I urge you to read the report so that you understand the impact on education in our community. My intention is to be a part of the conversation as this report begins a serious study for the board to undertake as it outlines the background and realities affecting our schools in Burlington. Read the Director’s report here: Motion 16132 page 29

I am committed to informing our community and am receptive to all opinions. I look forward to hearing from you so that I can advocate for you at the board table.

Read the report and send me your thoughts: reynoldsle@hdsb.ca

  • HDSB website has been down periodically…let me know if you have any trouble linking to the report.

How a Program Accommodation Review works:

I have collected some additional information for residents on how a Program Accommodation Review works, and opportunities for public input.

The first step, which will be voted on by the HDSBtrustees Oct. 19, is a Program Accommodation Review (PAR). The outcomes of a PAR can include school closures, consolidations, construction, boundary changes, or program relocation.

The PAR process includes requirements for public notice and opportunities for residents, parents and stakeholders to participate. There is also provision for a municipal councillor to formally participate, and I will be looking for that opportunity. I will keep residents informed if a PAR is called, how you can make your views known, and how we can work together to keep our schools open and vibrant, in the best interest of our students and entire community.

School review process

Long Term Accommodation Plan:

Every year, the Halton District Public School Board reviews enrolment projections for all schools in the board and identifies issues, concerns and potential next steps. If concerns are significant enough, a Program Accommodation Review is started.

The 2013/2014 Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP) provides enrolment projections for the years 2014 to 2023 for each elementary and secondary review area, and each elementary and secondary school, in the board.  The LTAP also identifies accommodation pressures resulting from these enrolment projections and strategies to address them, such as boundary studies.

According to the LTAP, in Burlington by 2023 the “on the ground” utilization rate (or OTG, as defined by criteria set by the Ministry of Education) is projected to be 68%, with approximately 2376 empty pupil places. As a result, the LTAP said that “consideration should be given to undertaking a PAR for all secondary schools in Burlington.”

Program Accommodation Review:

The first step is to establish a Program Accommodation Review Committee, or PARC. The committee is advisory and its task is to study and make recommendations on accommodation options that will eventually come to the board of trustees for a final decision. The PARC is composed of:

  • two trustees – one within the study area and one outside;
  • two superintendents, one from the study area and one outside;
  • a principal and two parents from each of the affected schools;
  • a municipal councillor or designate; and
  • a member of the business community.

The committee must hold at least four public meetings, giving at least 30 days notice for the first one. In addition, the committee meetings themselves are open to the public for observation.

Low enrolment doesn’t automatically trigger a school closure, according to a Q&A prepared by the board. Before closing schools, a number of factors must be considered including the size of the school, costs, impact on students, and whether a school is the only school in a given community.

Resources:

Program and Accommodation Review Policy

Long Term Accommodation Plan – 2013/2014, Staff Report April 10, 2014

Long Term Accommodation Plan & Resources

Long Term Accommodation Plan Q&A

My Take:

As a parent of children attending Aldershot and Burlington Central schools, I’m dedicated to ensuring these schools are successful and remain open. The community, and my office, would oppose closure not just for these schools, but elsewhere in Burlington. Schools are the heart of our communities, and if we want to encourage vibrant, walkable neighbourhoods, retaining our existing local schools is key. I will be asking to sit on the PAR committee as the municipal representative if a review is undertaken. I will also follow this issue closely and let residents know through the newsletter if a PAR is called later this year, and how you can get involved.

I’m thankful to Leah Reynolds, public school trustee for Wards 1 & 2, for alerting me to the proposed Program Accommodation Review, and pointing me toward appropriate resources. It will be important for city councillors and school trustees to work closely together, especially if a PAR is called. If you’re interested in following this and other school board issues, sign up for Leah’s electronic newsletter.

Your Take:

What are your thoughts about the enrolment projections and program options for schools in our community? Leave a comment below or email me at marianne.meedward@burlington.ca

 

Copies of the Staff Report with pages outlining recommendations for Burlington Schools

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I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

4 Comments

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  1. Cheryl Colby

    It would be a great dis-service to the children of Burlington if this school were in fact to be closed. Central has been a mainstay for secondary education in Burlington since 1922. My husband and all his siblings are graduates of Central and we have one child who has graduated and one currently attending. With a small population of approximately 672 students, there is greater opportunity at Central for one on one interaction with the teachers and the administration. The children also have stronger bonds as they become more of a close knit family rather than just a number which would be the case for the kids who would be relocated to Nelson with its current population of over 1000 students. Not to mention the fact that the kids would have to be bussed to school, putting more financial strain on the city and in direct opposition to the board’s active promoting of kids walking to school.

  2. Burlington Central should not close, I am enrolled at the school currently and it’s a wonderful place. Not to mention that in six years it will be a historical site at 100 years old. That is no small feat! It may have a few problems like every school, but it feels like home. There have been many leaps to improve the school in recent years, including smart boards in the classroom, making it a hub for ESL students in Burlington, redoing the Auditorium, and updating the library. It may not have air conditioning, and sometimes things break and need to be repaired, however it is one of the best schools that I have ever gone to.

    The School has many things that aren’t found at many other schools. It has an ESL program that draws students from around the world, including visa students who bring money into the board. It also offers SHSM Programs with Arts and Culture and Manufacturing and AP courses. We have one of the best Auditoriums in our school district. Wonderful staff and wonderful students who aren’t afraid to lend a hand to help when needed.

    Closing the school would mean destroying almost 100 years of Pride and work that have gone into making it a wonderful place. If they were to close the school what would they even turn it into? Townhouses or Condos? The School board would destroy our heritage and our history to make a quick buck. Our school is the downtown, the central hub of Burlington; closing a school far older than most people here would be ridiculous. The community must Rally as it did before to once again save the school. Everyone living in the downtown area must come together to make sure the school doesn’t close. It’s important to me and the other people I’ve talked to. It’s our Home and our family. If the school must close absolutely then turn it into a historical site.

    In a few short days my class, the Class of 2016, will return for commencement. The 78th Class of Central to have a commencement in its 94 years of serving Burlington. Closing a school with so much heritage and culture would be a shame, a horrible, horrible shame. It doesn’t matter that I am graduating, or that the school is older than I am. It’s a school that has shaped the downtown area of Burlington for almost 100 years, It’s not my school or your school, it is our school, Burlington’s School and we need to fight to make sure it stays open.

  3. What ever happened to transparency? As a parent I receive e-mails from the board for matters like hearing various speakers, or this week issues with the lack of bus drivers. But nothing about this! I find out via other parents.

    Then the board’s website is down!

    The appearance of this looks horrible. A formal apology should be sent out to all families that could be affected by this, along with available access to the reports and proper time to review and provide feed back.

  4. I absolutely dont want to see this happen to Central. It would be a devastating decision for our children and our community.

What's your take?