Trustees for the Halton District School Board voted Oct. 19 to undertake a Program & Accommodation Review of all Burlington high schools. The “starting point” of that review recommends closure of Burlington Central High School, Lester B Pearson High School, and boundary or programming changes at several other schools.
The review was initiated because two of five criteria for a review were met:
- projected or current enrollment below 65% overall
- enhancing program delivery (more courses; more variety) via larger grade sizes and enrolments, using funding that would otherwise be spent maintaining empty spaces
The Ministry of Education requires a recommendation be made to start a PAR. The recommendation can change as a result of public input. The director of education is expected to make his final recommendation via a report released March 29, 2017, with a vote by the board of trustees May 17, 2017.
The board is holding a series of information meetings at Burlington high schools in the next two weeks, starting Nov. 1. No questions will be taken at these sessions. Dates and details are below. A public meeting is scheduled for Dec. 8. Key dates in the PAR process are also listed separately below.
Once a PAR is announced a Program & Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) is formed, comprised of various parents and stakeholders. Two parents from each school are selected; one nominated by the school council, the other selected by the director of education based on submissions of interest. A municipal representative or delegate is also invited by the PARC.
The PARC reviews information and can suggest alternatives to deal with the challenges faced by the board. The PARC is expected to be formed by Dec. 1 with the first PARC meeting tentatively scheduled for Jan. 26, 2017. All PARC meetings are open to the public for observation.
Community members are rallying to keep Central and Pearson open, and suggest alternatives to dealing with issues facing the board. Parents at each school have launched Web pages and social media accounts to provide information so parents can get involved and make their views known.
Public Information-only Sessions:
|Tuesday, November 1, 2016||Robert Bateman HS||6:00 pm – 7:00 pm|
|Tuesday, November 1, 2016||Nelson HS||7:30 pm – 8:30 pm|
|Thursday, November 3, 2016||Aldershot HS||6:00 pm – 7:00 pm|
|Thursday, November 3, 2016||Burlington Central HS||7:30 pm – 8:30 pm|
|Monday, November 14, 2016||Lester B. Pearson HS||6:00 pm – 7:00 pm|
|Monday, November 14, 2016||M.M. Robinson HS||7:30 pm – 8:30 pm|
|Tuesday, November 15, 2016||Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS||6:00 pm – 7:00 pm|
Key Dates in the PAR:
|Action||Date and Time (tentative)||Location|
|PAR Initiated||October 19, 2016||J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
|Formation and orientation of Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC)||December 1, 2016||TBD|
|Public Meeting #1||December 8, 2016||TBD|
|PARC Working Meeting #1||January 26, 2017||TBD|
|PARC Working Meeting #2||February 2, 2017||TBD|
|PARC Working Meeting #3||February 9, 2017||TBD|
|Public Meeting #2||March 2, 2017||TBD|
|PARC Working Meeting #4||March 23, 2017||TBD|
|Director’s Report to Committee of the Whole||March 29, 2017||J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
|Public Delegation Night||April 18, 2017||J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
|Presentation of Report to Board of Trustees for Decision||May 17, 2017||J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
Questions about the PAR can be emailed to: BurlSSPAR@hdsb.ca.
Schools are one element of what makes a “complete” walkable, healthy community. Downtown is an urban growth centre, expected to take the highest amount of population and job growth in the city. This growing community needs a school.
I am heartened by the comments of the Director of Education and the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Oct 19 board meeting that the final recommendation will likely bear no resemblance to the option put forward as a “starting point” for discussion, which calls for closure of Lester B Pearson HS, closure of Central HS and other changes.
The board has invited the community to actively participate in the conversation to come up with alternatives that address the challenges the board is facing. I look forward to participating in that conversation, as a parent of children at both Central and Aldershot HS.
I believe the community can meet the challenge to find creative alternatives to the issues the board may face that don’t involve school closure of Central HS. I believe those alternatives exist and would be better for students, their families and the community than a school closure. I believe we will find these alternatives together as a community by participating in this process. I will be actively involved in this process and I encourage all members of the community to likewise get involved and share your views and ideas.