Central/Pearson high schools recommended to close; Program & Accommodation Review begun

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.

Parent Groups:



Public Information-only Sessions:

Date School Time
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

HDSB Resources:

Program & Accommodation Review Begun

Key Dates in the PAR process Nov 2016-May 2017

Directors Preliminary Report recommending PAR

School Information Profiles

Reasons for a PAR

Composition of Program Accommodation Review Committee

Questions about the PAR can be emailed to:

My Take:

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.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:


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  1. I agree with your position also. I live near Pearson, our neighbourhood is in transition, younger families are moving in as older empty nesters are moving on. I would like to see the removable of the old portables, continued use of the high school as a high school. Everyone should be able to walk to school. There is a co op daycare attached. The seniors center is looking for a building to expand too, a lot of zoomers are staying in their homes, having a seniors activity place to walk too would be a boon.
    I visited my daughter in Kitsilan neighbourhood in Vancouver last June. The Neighbourhood House is an excellent place for the whole neighbourhood no matter the age, can we take a page from them?

  2. I sent this post to the Gazette today, Nov. 8, and though I would share it here.

    So here we go again, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Stealing Burlington schools to build in Milton. An irreversible action that is disgusting in its betrayal.

    This will rip the beating heart out of the downtown, and the LBP neighborhood.

    We need a revolution to stop this confiscation of community assets, bought and paid for by residents.

    It could start with the trustees telling the bureaucrats that this is not on, and they need to come up with another plan. Or if forced, they could resign, and let the province fix the mess.

    If the intensification development plan that the Mayor and city are pushing does not need a school in the downtown, where 70% of the new is supposed to go, then the plan is fundamentally flawed in its conception and contradiction with any closure plan.

    There’s no “complete communities” in this plan, and never will be if it happens.

    Let’s hear from the Mayor and Council on this. We need a motion to direct staff to provide a report on potential school closings and the strategies that can be developed to protect community assets for future generations.

    I would start with the following investigation. I would like you to direct staff to examine what the City and communities will lose if schools close.

    We all know that schools have many uses and values. People come and go from our schools at many times of the day and week all year, and for many reasons. I ask that the City document all these comings and goings, all of the ways that people interact with the schools.

    Are not most schools considered to be community schools? These interactions are in fact part of the glue that ties neighborhoods and communities together.

    This will include recreation, sports and athletics, adult education, day care, social and other clubs, public meetings, and any other activity that uses the school buildings.

    I also ask that you consider how the schools enter into the City parks and green-space plans, and into good municipal planning in general.

    What about the loss of property values, since we all know that schools, and green-space in a neighborhood add to the price of housing there.

    Is the City prepared for assessment appeals and the loss of tax revenue, or is this something to be ignored, and denied when the time comes?

    Following this we need a public debate on this threatened confiscation of community assets and the multi-faceted impacts on the city.

    This is just the start of the threatening things forming the Medusa Head of school closures. There is much more to be said.

    Let’s roll!

  3. Burlington Downtown says, “FAMILIES NOT WELCOME”

    Downtown business and community health demands a school system which provides facilities which encourage families and children to the area. I attending last night’s meeting as Stuart Miller presented isolated statistics lacking complementary data regarding downtown intensification programs.

    Confusing data communicated Pearson, Robinson, and Bateman all have higher atrophy rates than Central. I had to guess that Central was suggested for closing because of its placement to other schools in the area (however this information was not presented). It is precisely its location which should keep it open for the health of the downtown and subsequent larger community. The data presented appeared insular to the school board only and lacking communication with other city initiatives.

  4. Very sad to see that Central may be closing. As the only high school in the downtown area it’s closing will leave a big hole in this area. How are we to expect families to move downtown if there sre not schools available for their kids. It is so important that our down towns are alive and well.

  5. I’m a Central alum, area resident, father of three future BCHS students, and a member of the local business community. I applaud your position on this issue.

    I’d like to see the data the board is using to project future enrolment and whether that meshes with everything I’ve heard from city officials regarding intensification in the downtown core. If anything, shouldn’t more people should equate to more students in the years to come?

    As a former student, I had opportunities at Central that I never would have had at a larger school. I went to Europe with the hockey team (never would have made the team at Nelson). I had the opportunity to excel in the school’s fantastic arts programs. I had the ability to walk to school which made academic work the focus of my day (no hassle to get there).

    These experiences were a huge part of making me who I am, going on to business school, then returning to this very community to raise my own kids. I suspect my story is not a “one-off.”

  6. After school activities are an important part of the education experience. These will not be used if students have to be bused from a distant school. That would be a shame.

  7. When I moved to downtown Burlington they were going to close Central . The city planners had completely botched their predictions of numbers of students that were set to come through the doors in two to three years.

    Sounds like they are doing it again.
    Keep BCHS open!


  8. I don’t have children in school now but to reiterate what Bob Osborne has said “schools are an important part our community”! Along the model of the Alton community can we not think outside the box and make the school a ‘community place’ to include school classrooms. Here’s one for outside the box….classes could be held in the school for teaching seniors computer courses by the more senior high school students which could go towards a student credit???

  9. My Grandson has attended public schools in the Pearson area since starting school. He now attends Pearson, is an Honour Student and plays Basketball for Pearson. All of his Friends who also live in the area are Kids who attend Pearson. My Daughter and the other Families moved to this area because of the schools. I feel the reason for removing these schools is not because there is a shortage of Students rather the shortage of dollars from the Province. Central, what a great opportunity to sell off (at huge dollars) a downtown property and put up another high rise condo. Lester B. Pearson on the other hand would provide land for a large townhouse development again giving huge dollars back to the Board and the Province. No one is kidding anyone when it comes to money and we all know the Province is broke. A simple solution would be to sell off a large section of the land associated with Pearson and keep enough for a football field and small Parking lot. That way the board would recover money by the sale of land for housing and fill the existing school with kids from the new townhouses or condos. They may have to add to the school to accommodate the increase in population. There are lots of possibilities for development. It would seem the easiest for the Board would be to close the school. Lay off Teachers and send the Kids to other schools. That way everyone would be satisfied. But what about the people who put their lives into a home,neighborhood and school. What about the teachers who have taught there and still teach there. It’s time we took a look at the alternatives before we disrupt communities and kids lives.
    That’s my take Marianne.
    Don Kenney

  10. I am also in agreement with your position. Schools are an important part of the community. Thanks for taking an active role in this discussion.

  11. I am in 100% agreement with your position, Marianne, again. It’s getting spooky, but then it’s October 31st! With the planned intensification for downtown Burlington, won’t some of the families locating here in the next 5-10 years have high-school aged children? Surely, we can justify one High School in our future downtown Burlington.

What's your take?

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