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Director’s report recommends closure of Pearson, Bateman, FI out of Hayden

Public delegation evenings May 8 and 11

The Director of the Halton District School Board (HDSB) has released his recommendation arising from the Program & Accommodation Review (PAR) of Burlington high schools, which calls for the closure of Robert Bateman High School and Lester B. Pearson High School, and program changes at the five other Burlington high schools.

Recommendations

The summary of recommendations is below. They are not final. The Board of Trustees will vote on the recommendations June 7 and can approve, reject or change some or all of them:

  • Robert Bateman High School to be closed June 2019 and students re-directed to Nelson High School and M.M. Robinson High School.
  • The International Baccalaureate Program to transfer from Robert Bateman High School to Burlington Central High School, effective September 2019.
  • Lester B. Pearson High School to be closed June 2018 and the students re-directed to M.M. Robinson High School commencing September 2018.
  • French Immersion program to be moved from Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School as of September 2018, beginning with the Grade 9 program.
  • Students from the “Evergreen” community (currently undeveloped) will be directed to M.M. Robinson High School.
  • Aldershot High School will be explored as a site for a magnet program or themed school.
  • Tecumseh Public School to be fully directed to Burlington Central High School (Tecumseh is currently split between Central and Nelson).

More programming for special needs students

Additional programming will be added for students with special needs, bringing programming closer to where students live. The report recommends by Sept. 2019:

  • establishing a second Essential Program site. Nelson High School will serve students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403, while students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.
  • continuing two sites for the Community Pathways Program (CPP); students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School, and students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.
  • offering the LEAP program in two locations; students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School, while students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.

With Nelson and MM both offering CPP, Essential level and Gifted programming, transportation times will be reduced, states the report.

The Board has adopted recommendations made by SEAC whereby students with special needs in regular courses “will receive accommodations, modifications and support as needed in their new school settings.” Transitioning the Community Pathways Program from one high school to another will receive support from the Student Services Department, as recommended by SEAC, adds the report.

“An impact of the recommendation is the creation of two composite schools in Burlington, one in the north (M.M. Robinson High School) and one in the south (Nelson High School), both offering a full range of all programs, thus supporting students with special needs to attend schools closer to their residences,” states the report. “It is expected the recommendations and the subsequent transition of the students it causes will result in stability for these schools and provide all students a greater breadth of program and opportunities.”

Costs:

Costs have been a concern raised in the community, so the following is a summary of some of the cost implications of the recommendation. The report also details potential funding sources.

None of the program space at Pearson would need to be replicated elsewhere, notes the report.

Some of the technological education program spaces at Bateman may need to be reproduced where they do not currently exist at M.M. Robinson High School and/or Nelson High School, states the report, although both schools currently have existing technological education facilities so not all renovations may be required.

The estimated cost to replicate what exists at Bateman is roughly $9.5 million. Any new design for the enhanced Special Education programming at Nelson and MM Robinson would have a combined cost estimate of $2 million, for a total cost of renovations at $11.5 million.

That’s about the same as the school’s five year facility renewal costs of $10.4 million plus approximately $1 million in additional accessibility requirements should the school remain open (as detailed in the School Information Profiles 2017 and the Facility Audit for Accessibility for Burlington Secondary Schools 2017).

The operational savings under the Director’s recommended option is $2.1 million. Savings for each of the five options recommended by the Program & Accommodation Review Committee of 14 parents is provided in the report, and ranges ranges from zero savings (under no schools close option) to $1.2-$2 million in savings. The PARC recommended five options for the Director’s consideration including Bateman & Pearson close, Bateman closes, Nelson closes, Central & Pearson close and no schools close.

Additional information:

The report provides additional information on a wide range of matters including why the recommendation changed, the rationale for each of the recommendations, the role and membership of the PARC, population projections and intensification, enrolment numbers, ministry funding grants, community and municipal partnerships, implementation planning, public input and more. In coming posts, I will summarize some of this information so the public has it for your own evaluation.

You can also read the entire report here: Report17075-DirectorsFinalReport-April 21-complete

I encourage everyone to read the full report for themselves so they know what’s in it and can make their own conclusions about the recommendation and rationale.

Community engagement:

There has been active community engagement throughout the PAR, which has grown and continues to grow as the process unfolds. All communities have organized themselves, with resident-led initiatives on social media (school community Facebook pages, Twitter feeds or websites), lawn sign campaigns, door to door visits, petitions, community meetings, rallies, a hug-a-school event and special school council meetings. Collectively thousands of residents across Burlington made their voices heard, providing solid, well argued feedback on all of the options.

I have personally heard from hundreds of residents. There is growing support in the community for a “no schools close” option. There is also community support to close schools, to address programming challenges at low enrolment schools, and redirect funds used to keep underutilized schools open to better uses.

It’s been inspiring to see the level of community engagement in this issue, and the leadership of community members to mobilize their friends and neighbours to get involved. I encourage everyone to continue to participate in this discussion.

Make your voice heard

There are still a number of opportunities for public input before the final trustee vote:

Next Steps:

April 26: Director’s report considered by Board of Trustees at Committee of the Whole, 6pm.
May 8 & 11: Public delegation evenings, 6pm. Residents must register in advance (deadline is three days prior to each meeting). Space is limited and delegations may be combined if covering the same topic.
May 17: Report presented to Board of Trustees. 7pm
June 7: Vote by Board of Trustees. 7pm

All meetings are at the J.W. Singleton Centre at 2050 Guelph Line (at Upper Middle). They are open to the public and livestreamed on the HDSB website.

Contact Trustees:

You can write directly to the trustees to share your views about the recommendation. Their addresses, and which city/ward they represent, are below.

Kelly Amos​​, Chair of the Board 2016
Oakville – Ward 5 & 6
Email: amosk@hdsb.ca

Kim Graves, Vice-Chair 2016
Milton – Wards 1, 6, 7, 8
Email: gravesk@hdsb.ca

Donna Danielli
Milton – Wards 2, 3, 4, 5
Email: daniellid@hdsb.ca

Jeanne Gray
Halton Hills – Wards 1, 2, ​3, 4
Email: grayje@hdsb.ca

Amy Collard
Burlington – Ward 5
Email: collardamy@hdsb.ca

Andrea Grebenc
Burlington – Wards 3, 6
Email: grebenca@hdsb.ca

Richelle Papin
Burlington – Ward 4
Email: papinri@hdsb.ca

Leah Reynolds
Burlington – Wards 1, 2
Email: reynoldsle@hdsb.ca

Tracey Ehl Harrison
Oakville – Wards 1, 2
Email: ehlharrisont@hdsb.ca

Ann Harvey Hope
Oakville – Ward 3
Email: harveyhopea@hdsb.ca

Joanna Oliver
Oakville – Ward 4
Email: oliverj@hdsb.ca

My Take:

I have taken some time to read and reflect on the report and the process to date, as a parent and as a former PARC member.

Let me start by saying my heart goes out to the Pearson and Bateman communities.The recommended option is undoubtedly devastating news. I toured each of the high schools along with other PARC members. Every school in Burlington is unique and offers something special to its students and communities. No one wants to see a school in their community closed. Any school closure is disruptive and represents a loss.

I came into this process with a commitment to do what is best for all our students, and have an open mind to new information. I have learned there is no perfect solution for the issues faced by the Board, and no solution without some impact on the community – even status quo.

There will be community disruption no matter what the final decision is, including closing no schools, since boundary changes would still be required to address over or under enrolment at four of our schools, effectively “closing” those schools to students who find themselves outside of redrawn boundaries.

Some options are better (or worse) than others, and I have discovered there is no consensus around any option, in the community, at the PARC or at the Board table. This will not be an easy decision for Trustees to make – nor should it be.

Whatever decision the Board of Trustees makes, we must work together as a community to ensure it is implemented with student welfare at the forefront, and ensure it improves the educational experience for all of our students for the long term.

Thank you to the PARC

Serving on the PARC was an honour and privilege. I can’t think of anything more deserving of my volunteer time than this issue in our community. I was very fortunate to be able to work with fellow parents to participate in such an important process. Everyone contributed to the discussion, and I learned a lot from listening to what others had to say.

Serving on the PARC was also one of the most challenging and emotionally draining experiences I have ever had. It brought communities together to try to save their school, but it also divided communities across the city, and became like a game of survivor. The “no schools close” option didn’t pick up momentum till late in the PARC process, and even then, there was not unanimous support. There still isn’t.

We were required to evaluate, refine or present options for consideration. It was extremely difficult to talk about the pros and cons of closing another community’s school – or listen to why other PARC members thought your school should close. There was nothing simple or easy about any of it. PARC members rose to the challenge under these extremely difficult circumstances to try to provide the best input and set of options they could.

I am grateful for the contribution of each member.

Our goal was, and is, improving education for all students for the long term.

So where do we go from here?

I encourage everyone to get involved and stay involved: what happens with our schools affects us all. I will continue to be involved in this process every step of the way, up to the vote and after, letting residents know how they can participate.

I remain committed to improving the PAR process and education funding formula, and seeking a province-wide moratorium until changes can be made. (Our Open Letter in March to the Premier and others suggested 13 improvements; I also endorse changes recommended by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association).

I also ask residents to be respectful of each other, recognizing that your friends and neighbours may have a different perspective than you about the specific recommendations or the issue of school closures in general. We will have some healing to do as a community after this process, to mend the divisiveness that has occurred.

Emotions are running high, and that’s okay and to be expected, given the importance of schools to each community. Let’s commit together to respectfully agree to disagree, without getting negative or personal.

Let’s not direct our emotions  against others, whether parents, board staff, trustees or other community members, but towards making the case for the best decision for all our students for the long term.

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.

97 Comments

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  1. Regarding Councilor Meed ward’s participation on the PARC, I would only add that because you can doesn’t always mean you should, or as Joan Lille wrote, if this wasn’t a legal conflict it certainly was an ethical one.

    As to the Director’s recommendation, what we have is a recommendation that consolidates MMR/Pearson, Bateman/Nelson and Hayden all requiring students attend classes in portables but, receive enhanced program delivery and learning opportunities. Aldershot and Central will not receive the benefits of enhanced program deliver or learning opportunities due to their continued low enrolment and remain schools that share students having fewer opportunities than any other school in Burlington, perhaps even within the HDSB.

    Director Miller speaks to these challenges yet does little to find a solution, those he suggests have admittedly not be successful in the past.
    This in no way provides equity for all students and if these benefits are what is truly driving this decision, why are the students of Aldershot and Central not recommended to receive them?

    Director Miller provided a recommendation, it’s the trusteeses responsibility to get it right in the best interest of all students.

    • This is the silliest comment I’ve come across on this school debate. How is participating as a volunteer in the PARC an ethical conflict? What moral standard does civic participation to keep a school open possibly violate?

      John, where were you when the Director was proposing over-utilisation at Aldershot? And how can you possibly believe 87 to 88% utilisation by 2020 for Aldershot and Central is low enrolment?

      If you’re going to get involved in public debate, at least have a grip on the facts.

      • Bryan, Please note the ethical comment was a quote from the Spectator, sorry for the incorrect spelling of the writer’s name. Some will agree some won’t.

        As for the Director proposing over-utilization at Aldershot, that was never the case. Additional space over the stated OTG was always available at Aldershot, it was in the Director’s initial recommendation. Aldershot elementary is at about 47% utilization, that’s where the 10 rooms or 210 spaces came from.
        The innovation center in the recent recommendation has been admittedly unsuccessful in the past, if they do get students, where do you think they will be accommodated if not in the excess elementary space?

        It was made quite clear during the process that the elementary students were outside the scope of this PAR. If you remove the elementary factor at both Aldershot and Central the utilization is very different. For example, Aldershot OTG is 1018 but, it is shown as 558. That happens because the other 460 spaces are elementary. If you do the math using the 1018 OTG and current students, Aldershot is at about 45% utilization, the lowest in the city. Central has a similar situation but, not as severe.

        Percentages are a distorted view, the size of the student population is more relevant for the board to deliver on all the advantages of enhanced program delivery and learning opportunities. That’s the rational used for consolidation of MMR/Pearson and Bateman/Nelson.

        Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my previous post, hope this helps.

        • That Joan Little labels community participation an ethical conflict doesn’t make it true. You repeating what she says doesn’t make it true, unless you subscribe to Joseph Goebbels propaganda maxim that “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”.

          It is also not true that Aldershot could automatically take on extra students without needing portables. The 210 available spaces is exceeded by the 270 Grade 7 and 8 students from Central. The PAR never addressed this.

          The Director’s report supports both large and small schools – the goal is not to create the same sized schools. The schools only need to have enough scale to support the range of programming.

          Aldershot’s size is more than sufficient for enhanced program delivery and has the capacity to accommodate the future developments along Plains Road, the mobility hub and north Aldershot.

          The Director’s numbers don’t yet account for Aldershot being a magnet school. The PAR process highlighted the need to more innovative programming and creating a magnet school is the response. Aldershot has the most potential for success, because of its closest proximity to the Hamilton region. Every other Burlington schools would only take away from other Halton schools.

          You ignore other factors that informed the decision – notably the importance of walkability. Aldershot is located far from every other school – shut it down and Aldershot no longer has a community school. That’s not true of Nelson and Bateman which overlap as does M.M. Robinson and Pearson.

          • Bryan As I said some will agree with Joan Little’s comment some won’t. You obviously don’t, others can decide for them selves.

            The 7-8 students at Central were never in the scope of this PAR, some thought they should have been however that never happened. Certainly sending them to Aldershot was never a consideration of the board. Have a look at the initial recommendation, it will clear that up for you.

            You are right, schools need to have a large enough scale to support a range of programs and opportunities for students. They also need sufficient students in each program to make them viable. For example, the directors recommendation would send about 174 IB students to Central. They are seen in their EN student body, however the IB program is a different curriculum and does not directly help the viability of the EN program. Depending on what the magnet program would be, students still need to be enrolled in programs chosen by other students or programs would not be offered. Just filling seats does not necessarily add to programs offered or to there viability.

            Your comment about Aldershot potentially attracting students from other boards is interesting but, they would likely be accommodated in the elementary space and of course require transportation.

            It’s not clear how many students the development in Aldershot would add to the school however, if those numbers and the addition of students from a magnet program were sufficient the elementary portion of Aldershot would need to be relocated.

            Closing any school is closing a community school.

    • John, you’re being evasive and talk in circles. What do you mean, “it’s the trusteeses (sic) responsibility to get it right…”?

      On the one hand you say that Aldershot has low enrolment. On the other hand, with development and the magnet school, “the elementary portion of Aldershot would need to be relocated.”

      You keep raising objections about Aldershot, but what do you see as the solution? Are you advocating Aldershot’s only community school be closed?

      You say, “Just filling seats does not necessarily add to programs offered or to there (sic) viability.” Are you then saying that because schools “need sufficient students in each program to make them viable”, Aldershot and Bateman should both be closed because their English programs are complemented by regional programs?

      Please be clear on what you want trustees to do. The discussion about our schools is too important to be dragged down by your hidden and obfuscatory agenda that questions the viability of certain schools.

      • Bryan, This PAR is considering seven schools and as such there are a lot of moving parts that must be considered, not in isolation, but as a whole. It’s understandable this could be confusing so I have offered examples only to show that adding in one place has an effect on another. I do apologize if this has caused you further confusion.

        If you read my original post you will see that my concern’s regarding equity of program delivery and learning opportunities are based on the directors recommendation. Using his rational for other schools, students of Aldershot and Central would not benefit from either, that’s not equity.

        Trustees are responsible for the best interest of all the students, providing equity and opportunity is a big part of that. I’m sure they will get it right.

        • John – No confusion mate. Your endless equivocation makes clear your true motives cannot be trusted. Cheers!

  2. Dear Marianne Meed Ward, thank you for your response. Also I apologize. Since I had not heard from you I turned off my notifications from this feed as I was receiving comments from individuals that felt compelled to speak on your behalf and it became fruitless. Yes I will refer to page 8. My concern is that Central and Pearson were initially proposed for closure then there was a sudden turn around now proposing Bateman and Pearson. Also I realize you are a parent but you are also an active political figure (not just a parent) does that not present a conflict of interest in being a Par committee member? I have read the report however I also am aware of the money that was put into Bateman. The state of the art kitchen (most certainly Chef worthy), and the various tech programs offering students hands on experience with the ability to graduate to go on to be productive, contributing members of society. Also of course there is IB, Academic, Applied, Shsm, OYAP….Bateman is like no other school in Halton. What’s going to happen to the trade inclined student? There are also the fragile vulnerable kids – The Centre, Leap, Essential…I remember when Brock and Elgin amalgamated. This was not an easy transition! It was definately a work in progress. Students against students and even staff against staff. But after years of work became a solidified, inclusive school. It became Robert Bateman, the most unique, welcoming and diversified school in Burlington -(representative of the real world) with people of all walks of life, and all varying abilities. I just can’t can’t comprehend why it would be slated for closure. It’s also had millions of dollars injected into updates in recent years. Do you and others on the Par Committee think these kids will rebound well when redirected to different schools with the emphasis on academics and/or sports? Robert Bateman High school has had many success stories and keeps kids in school! But I digress, you responded so I thank you. I will however keep fighting for these kids!

  3. If you are a FB friend of Bateman H.S. strength in diversity, Wendy Webb made a great comment…”Two things…

    1. Summer school hasn’t been addressed. Perhaps they plan on air conditioning Nelson? Can those students not factor into our numbers?

    2. Sort of a half baked idea, but what about proposing an amalgomation of Nelson and Bateman. A two campus solution like White Oaks has. We could call the whole thing Nelson to make the Nelson people happy – Nelson East campus and West Campus. They could share staff, administration and, kids could take classes at either campus. Nelson kids could benefit from from our great facilities. School busses aren’t busy during the day – add shuttles as needed. They keep talking about the proximity to each other as being the problem. Maybe it is the solution. When you throw in gr 7 and 8 like Heather proposed and maybe some magnet programs then both could be viable schools. Then as south east Burlington turns over and continues to grow we can accommodate everyone without portables.”

  4. Is it too late, now, for City Council to take a political stand? What is the city’s long-term vision for communities? (I know about the Hubs), but I am referring to walkability, ‘super’ schools…Once a school is closed down, the property is sold and gone forever. Neighborhoods’ populations, as we all know, go through cycles.

  5. Phillip Wooster You have asked about the motion at council. I did offer during discussion at council to support a revised motion that was factually accurate and called for a province-wide moratorium on all school closures while the PAR process and funding formulas could be changed. The mover was unwilling to make changes, which was unfortunate because I believe a revised motion would have had some chance of council approval. The mover made no attempt to get council support for his motion and the community is poorer for it. A revised motion would also have had a chance of getting a hearing at the province, as we added our voices to city councils across the province who have passed similar motions asking for a province-wide moratorium. We are stronger when we come together with one voice and request that benefits everyone.

    • Ms Ward – your suggestion that a call for a province wide moratorium on all school closures suggests that this is the only strategy that makes sense. In fact, your choice to stand beside the Opposition Leader Patrick Brown and demand this likely dashed any hopes of the province actually making this a reality. The “mover” was suggesting that Burlington’s City Council take a stand on closures within Burlington – a very reasobable request. What possible down side would there have been to this position? Why did you need to change the mover’s position? I completely disagree that a revised motion would have had a greater chance of being heard by the province. You effectively shut that possibility down by siding with the Opposition.

  6. Increasing the number of students who will require bussing is challenging. Year after year the bus companies plead for new drivers as there is a shortage. Students are often very late for school or getting home as no driver was available to get them. Field trips are difficult to schedule as there are no drivers available. I can’t imagine the consequences of putting further strain on the bus companies.

  7. @jennifergordgebishop Jennifer, Thank you for reaching out directly to me with your question. Regarding the PARC composition, role and my participation: The PARC policies allow two parent representatives for each of the seven high schools under review. The policies also provide for the participation of a municipal councillor or delegate; I did not serve in that role, but could have. I was chosen by the school council where my son attends. I met the criteria to serve on the PARC (parent of a child in an affected school) and was not disqualified by any restriction (only Halton DIstrict School Board employees are prevented from serving on the PARC).

    Around the table, I was just another parent volunteer. I had no special pull or privilege, no additional speaking time or influence, as anyone who attended the PARC meetings – all of which took place in public – would know. All parents participated equally. I had no private conversations with the Director or any other Board staff during this process. My contribution was made in public around the PARC table, our meetings were minuted and those minutes are available to the public.

    Why did the recommendation change? The Director’s report explains this on pg 8, stating the original option was selected with the data and information available at that time, and the final option was based on information and public input that emerged throughout the process. That information is all available to the public and documented in the Appendices of the report. The PARC does not make a decision; it forwarded five recommendations for the Director’s consideration including the original option to close Central & Pearson, close Nelson, close Bateman, close Bateman & Pearson and no schools close.

    The provincial requirement to make an initial recommendation is one of several challenges with the PAR process identified in a letter myself and others delivered to the Premier in March calling for a moratorium on school closures until changes can be made. If the Director doesn’t change the recommendation, it appears to the community the fix was in from the beginning; if the recommendation changes, it appears to the community something was amiss, let’s find someone to blame.

    Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we should turn our attention where it really matters: what is in the best long term interest of all of our students? Does the recommended option improve programming and reduce the negative impacts on students of low enrolment? Those were the two reasons the PAR was called, and those are the two issues the recommendation seeks to address.

    I hope everyone reads the entire Director’s report, and the rationale for each of the recommended changes, and draw your own conclusions. Then make your case to the Trustees who will make the final decision, based on facts and evidence, instead of unfounded and erroneous allegations against one parent volunteer. We need to return our focus where it should be: our students.

    • How does closing Bateman improve programming for the students at Bateman? Given the culture at Nelson, special needs students will hardly fit in. And the cost of renovating Central vs. Bateman which has been substantially upgraded at considerable cost? As you are aware, I initially supported saving Central but no more–I am recommending to my trustee that the proper choice is to keep Bateman and close Central.

    • It is unfortunate that this process has pitted communities against each other in an “anybody but us” dialogue, and led to personal attacks on individuals rather than keeping the focus where it should be: the best long term interest of students. The programming changes for each school are detailed in the report. Re costs: all schools have received renovations or upgrades, and all require renewal or upgrades, including for accessibility. Detailed costs for all schools (previous five year renewal, projected five year renewal and accessibility upgrades) are provided in an earlier post here: http://ward2news.ca/schools/choose-school-close-evidence-suggests-options-worse-others-none-great/

    • Marianne I totally agree with your summary of the responsibility of the PARC and you role in it. As a fellow member of this PARC I can certainly say your participation like the majority of the committee members always had all the Burlington students best in interests at heart throughout this stressful process. Of course we had some bias toward the school we were representing. That is only natural and member did. You like I should hold your head high for the work we did on this committee.

  8. I wish I understood north Burlington better. I grew up there and graduated from Pearson in ’86. At the time, there were the exact same number of non catholic high schools in Burlington (General Brock, no Hayden). With all of the insane growth in the north part of the city, seemingly all young families, how can Pearson not be saved by simply moving the boundaries and changing the feeder schools? This model seems like it will result in MMR bursting at the seams as Hayden is. The north Burlington growth is far from over. Maybe my thoughts are simplistic but this seems to be an issue that is over complicated, maybe intentionally..

    • Arlene, sadly it has been created intentionally to say, “see the numbers at LBP are dropping”. We have 1.5 feeder schools to LBP vs. 7 to Hayden. Redrawing the boundary’s would mean students for all 3 schools in the north equitably. There is growth (single dwellings) north of the highway (4 potential developments – 1 already determined while PARC was in process that it would bypass LBP and go to MMR with MMR the only choice given) and another in Miller’s report that will go to MMR. City wide utilization is presently 74% now growing to 80% by 2020

      Specific to the north the numbers are 83% growing to 88% with all 3 schools still open. Close Pearson and it jumps to 111%.

  9. You can’t fault anyone for fighting for the school that they have connection to, no matter who they are, period. Yes, when feeling backed into a corner, a few have pointed the finger at another school saying ‘how about them?’, and that is unfortunate. Those with the data ( which I have felt compelled to question at times) may see me as naive , but I still believe that there is a way to close no schools, and I truly hope that this is something that even those who got a reprieve in the Directors report will fight for. This isn’t about just numbers or geography, this is about kids, family, and community.

  10. And when Akron West and Evergreen communities are built in the next 3-8 years….where oh WHERE will those children go to high school? As the mid to south Burlington population continues to age and elders sell their homes, where will these new, younger kids have to bus to for school?

  11. Funny, the Burlington Post quote has echoed my sentiments in the Thursday April 27th edition, page 20. “I question the influence of a sitting council member on the PAR committee and want to better understand the role (this may) have played in Director Miller’s change of heart” Still awaiting a response Marianne Meed Ward

  12. “it”s been inspiring to see the level of community engagement on this issue and the leadership of community members to mobilize their friends and neighbors to get involved” What do you expect residents do??? Sit back and see the closures of our much loved schools? Is it not in our best interest to fight for our kids? Unfortunately this whole Parc Committee has escalated emotions and pitted school against school. Flip flopping on what schools will be closed, pitting neighbor against neighbor. It’s turned into a circus. Look forward to a comment Marianne Meed Ward

  13. We need boundary changes!!! DFH is already overcrowded. We were denied extra portables to deal with next year’s population increase from just grade 9’s!! Multiple classes will be held in the cafeteria or staff room. Some of our DFH kids need to walk >1km to LBP rather than 2kms to DFH.

  14. Marianne Meed Ward, I find it interesting Central is off the chopping block now (even though it and Pearson were the initial schools recommended for closure) and Bateman now is targeted. Seems to me, you being on the committee and Central is the school in your ward may have something to do with it? Am I correct? And Stuart Miller denies politics are in play

    • Louise Akers-Loten Have you visited Central? I personally see a beautiful school, rich in history. The school is not crumbling around the many students who love being at their school every day. Yes, there are investments required but that is because the school has been neglected by the HDSB for so long.

    • Get your facts straight before you start bashing a single individual. Marianne fought for Central as a Central Parent as she was more than allowed to do. Stuart Miller’s decision was not based off of Marianne’s beliefs for the school she represented, his recommendation was based off of what he thought and knew would be best for ALL BURLINGTON STUDENTS, not just one group as most of you are fighting for. Let’s keep in mind Marianne was out there at Queens Park multiple times fighting for a moratorium. If you payed attention to anything the final decision has not yet been decided so no one is officially off the “chopping block”

    • Jennifer Gordge Bishop Your comment is very aggressive and you imply that there has been wrong doing. If you read Marianne’s opinion at the bottom of this article – it actually will answer most of your questions.

    • Here let me answer your question – you are incorrect. Marianne being on the committee advocating for her child’s school had nothing to do with Stuart Miller recommending Pearson and Bateman for closure. Your intent was not to ask a proper question, your intent was to point fingers in a wrong direction and to pick on someone.

    • Louise, are you saying staff at Central is not capable of offering 21st century learning needs just because the building is old? If you are talking about elevators, I am sure the price tag would not be that high. Could the building use some repair? Sure! But is that what determines the quality of learning?? I am sorry to see any schools close! We knew this would happen as soon as trustees voted to go ahead with the PAR. I wrote letters to our trustees asking them to vote no to starting PAR in Burlington. I sat at the meeting and watched all but one trustee vote to go ahead with this shameful process. The only no vote came from the trustee representing Central.

    • Jennifer, Thank you for reaching out directly to me with your question. Regarding the PARC composition, role and my participation: The PARC policies allow two parent representatives for each of the seven high schools under review. The policies also provide for the participation of a municipal councillor or delegate; I did not serve in that role, but could have. I was chosen by the school council where my son attends. I met the criteria to serve on the PARC (parent of a child in an affected school) and was not disqualified by any restriction (only Halton DIstrict School Board employees are prevented from serving on the PARC).

      Around the table, I was just another parent volunteer. I had no special pull or privilege, no additional speaking time or influence, as anyone who attended the PARC meetings – all of which took place in public – would know. All parents participated equally. I had no private conversations with the Director or any other Board staff during this process. My contribution was made in public around the PARC table, our meetings were minuted and those minutes are available to the public.

      Why did the recommendation change? The Director’s report explains this on pg 8, stating the original option was selected with the data and information available at that time, and the final option was based on information and public input that emerged throughout the process. That information is all available to the public and documented in the Appendices of the report. The PARC does not make a decision; it forwarded five recommendations for the Director’s consideration including the original option to close Central & Pearson, close Nelson, close Bateman, close Bateman & Pearson and no schools close.

      The provincial requirement to make an initial recommendation is one of several challenges with the PAR process identified in a letter myself and others delivered to the Premier in March calling for a moratorium on school closures until changes can be made. If the Director doesn’t change the recommendation, it appears to the community the fix was in from the beginning; if the recommendation changes, it appears to the community something was amiss, let’s find someone to blame.

      Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we should turn our attention where it really matters: what is in the best long term interest of all of our students? Does the recommended option improve programming and reduce the negative impacts on students of low enrolment? Those were the two reasons the PAR was called, and those are the two issues the recommendation seeks to address.

      I hope everyone reads the entire Director’s report, and the rationale for each of the recommended changes, and draw your own conclusions. Then make your case to the Trustees who will make the final decision, based on facts and evidence, instead of unfounded and erroneous allegations against one parent volunteer. We need to return our focus where it should be: our students.

    • I think what he took into account, per the meeting, was that all students from Central would have had to been bused and cohorts split whereas some Bateman students are within walking distance of Nelson.

    • Phillip Wooster Is that an issue? Read Millers report and maybe you’ll have a better understanding of why it was suggested. You most likely fought for Bateman and suggested for Central to be closed so don’t act so innocent

    • Courtney Osborne I have read Miller’s report–it is a travesty of false data and obfuscation. I did not fight for Bateman but in reading the narrative IN DETAIL, yours was the ONLY school whose strategy was to save yourself by sacrificing Bateman. Crosby was the author of the tactic. You should be ashamed!

    • Phillip Wooster ashamed ? I really can’t say I am as I know the team that Central had assembled was a very respectable and smart group of individuals who fought for their own school as well as every other school in Burlington when they went to Queens Park to fight for a moratorium. I will fail to mention how rude some Bateman representatives have been in respect to Central students. Enjoy your conspiracy theories you’ve conjured up out of bits and pieces of information you’ve collected….

    • Sadly, this is what the whole process has caused – division amongst schools and parents. What really needs to happen is for this community (Burlington) and others across Ontario to focus their energy on Queen’s Park, your local MPP, school trustees, to make your voices heard. We need to link arms vs. pointing fingers.

    • Courtney Osborne I note that you did not address Crosby’s lead in pushing for closing Bateman instead of Central—she sure is respectable?!?! I also note that your councillor voted on April 3 against Paul Sharman’s motion to have all school closings suspended–in hindsight, I wonder why????? By the way, I can understand that you are not ashamed–that would require integrity.

  15. Surely it is better to have students in a local high school, high school is hard enough without trying to integrate a large number of students into another school.
    My understanding is there are specialized programs at Robert Bateman that will require students doing two years at that school until hlosure then 2 years not a Nelson the next closest school but at a high school at the opposite side of Burlington.

  16. Another misleading item in the report is that nothing at Pearson would need to be replicated elsewhere. That is because he doesn’t consider the nursery co-op “high school related”. Yet this co-op and partnership with LBP is a win-win and city and community helped develop a third gym and features for this co-op. They have not even thought of where this will go. They will “explore” options.

    • BYW, your letter is excellent. All trustees should read this before considering the elimination of community schools. There ARE ways of improving HOW we use the schools and how we fill our schools.

    • Amy Collard represented Bateman well last night and asked hard hitting questions and concerns re $12 million needed in renovations when the items exist at Bateman already.

    • I don’t see or hear anyone persecuting or bullying any school or community. I don’t recall anyone standing up for central or Pearson except ourselves. These two communities were asking for no school closure. I don’t recall Bateman standing with these 2 communities supporting option 7. Bateman and Nelson were included at the PARC table for an option to close. Director Miller was clear when this process started that BCHS and Pearson were the schools brought forth in his initial meeting however he said any and every viable option was open for discussion. Read the report clearly and carefully; keep an open mind. while it is devastating for any school to be closed the ultimate decision is in the hands of the Trustees. Their vote must be for what is best for ALL students current and future not just one group or community. All students across Burlington deserve the best educational experience no matter what venue it is delivered in.

    • I’ll have to get myself a pair of rose coloured glasses. You don’t recall Bateman standing up for Central or Pearson? What does that have have to do with anything? Are you aware of every letter writing campaign, every phone call, every social media discussion pertaining to the closure of Central? My husband attended Central as did his 9 brothers and sisters. I have many friends that went there. That aside, after much successful pressure from the Central community Miller has now turned his attention to Bateman. Bateman has a high population of kids with special needs. It is the most fragile, vulnerable student population in all of Burlington Closing Bateman would be more than disruptive or inconvenient for those students and their families, It would be debilitating and tough to recover from. Do you really think the parents of these kids have additional energy to fight? Bateman is an easy target. This student population is like no other in Burlington. But I choose to stand and raise my voice for these kids and community and will continue to do so.

    • There are students with special needs in every school in Burlington – anxiety, depression, autism, learning disabilities, ADHD and so on. BCHS is the only school in Burlington that is home to students who are identified with PTSD. Relocating these students from where they now feel at home can have devastating affects. Many of these students have also been relocated over and over again – moving countries, experiencing war and trauma that most of us could never imagine. We need to be careful not to make this about one issue. Closing schools is difficult and transitioning is difficult. The goal of the Trustees has to be to see the big picture; to do what is best for the entire city and it’s students as a whole. Keeping bussing to a minimum is not only fiscally responsible because busing is a permanent cost, it is better for student physical and mental health. It has been proven that students who are alble to walk or bike to school have better acedemic success, are happier and healthier than those who are driven or bused. Burlington also has an extreme shortage of bus drivers – the Board needs to be careful how many more we have to put on the road. Having a plan that may possibly reduce many students busing times is a positive. Maintaining schools in every community wherever possible is and should be a priority. This allows the maximum number of students the ability to walk and bike, participate in extra-curricular activities and balance homework and after school jobs/commitments. The fact of the matter is that this issue should be about students and not money or funding. We can have top of the line programming but if students are not performing at their best because their well being is suffering, programming will not matter.

    • A few questions I would appreciate been answered are
      1. How many students does Nelson have now?
      2. How many students will transfer from Bateman if closed?
      2. What is the maximum number of students Nelson can accommodate without overcrowding?

      3.Will there be sufficient room for all the students at Nelson without a over number of portables. How many? What other ramifications
      Ie: availability to courses because of large number of students.
      Will they increase number of sport teams for the school to play inter schools. So many other questions
      that haven’t been addressed.
      Maybe if some of these concerns are addressed it would reduce the stress of the parents and students.

    • Stuart Miller clearing stated at one if the earlier meetings that the shortage of buses would not be taken into consideration when making his decision? Hmm guess we will just hope for the best or hundreds of people will pollute burlington driving their kids to and from school.

  17. Thank you Marianne Meed Ward for keeping us informed. It’s very unfortunate that any schools must be closed. I hope that these potential school closures don’t create additional and unwanted portables at the other remaining high schools.

    • If LBP closes, DFH and MMR populations will surge. Both schools will need 10 more portables each to accommodate the students. Why would we close a school then? Maybe in the future we need to close a school but, at this time, the no school north of the QEW needs to close. Especially since there’s more homes being developed on the next 2, 5 and 7 years.

    • Totally agree! One Mama brought up a good point if they close Pearson and build a pile of houses (which will obviously be family dwellings), where will they go? To overcowded Hayden or Overcrowded MMR?

What's your take?