Categories: Downtown & Waterfront

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.

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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