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More questions raised about school closure process

“The PAR process is flawed and divisive, not living up to the expectation of collaboration”

More questions are being raised about the Program & Accommodation Review process currently underway in Burlington that could see one or more high schools close, namely Burlington Central, Nelson, Bateman, or Pearson.

Nelson parent Brett Huttman has prepared a 17-page “deep dive” raising concerns about the process, which he sent to the PAR committee, board staff and trustees.

Key concerns include:

  • The PAR process is flawed and divisive, not living up to the expectation of collaboration with communities or seeking out creative solutions
  • Information being used in decision-making is old and inaccurate; there is also limited communication as to the source of data other than a vaguely outlined methodology
  • The motivation to close a school in Burlington is questionable, given vague Provincial Ministry funding guidelines and an obvious need for capital by the HDSB to support growth in Milton
  • Despite flat historical growth in enrolment numbers and relatively flat projections for future growth, the HDSB built Frank Hayden Secondary School, operational since 2013, which has single-handedly created a capacity imbalance in the city of Burlington
  • There is recent history of questionable judgement – building Hayden suggests that the HDSB did not thoroughly understand the needs of the entire community Burlington, and have not been held accountable for this decision

“This is a call for renewed effort from the HDSB to critically and creatively evaluate options that allow Burlington to maintain ALL of its existing schools,” states Huttman.

Read the full document here: Burlington PAR – A Deeper Dive

My Take: This document is a must-read for all residents. We’re all affected in some way by what’s happening. Any school closing would be disruptive to that community, and current closure options under consideration create a domino effect of negative impacts on surrounding schools, such as overcrowding and portables, bussing and boundary changes. Even if all schools remain open, boundary changes will be required to address overcrowding at Hayden and underenrolment at Bateman, MM Robinson and Pearson.

I encourage everyone to learn about the options and share your views. There is still time to fill out the Board’s survey (till 4:30 pm Mon. March 13).

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.

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  1. Marianne Meed Ward as an FYI, I knew building Hayden would create an imbalance and thus why I called for a recorded vote and was the only Trustee who opposed the Motion for the build. Many individuals( constituents and Trustees) were upset with myself, but I really felt that we needed to deal with seat numbers before moving forward with a build. Loved the idea of partnering with the City and putting something for all in that Community, but knew it would cause a problem everywhere else and that we needed to deal with those issues first. I feel bad for Burlington Constituents and have previously posted something on your page as a response to a Constituents question directed at myself, I believe on Thursday. Wish there were better answers here.

  2. It is VERY upsetting that it has taken the hard work of a concerned parent to put this information together, when we have many city employees, committees, Councillors, etc… whose JOB it is to do this. This is very telling.

    Who is looking out for the citizens of Burlington???

    This has also become quite apparent with regards to the intensification mandate Burlington is in the midst of. Life in Burlington is becoming more and more strained as the population rises. The infrastructure is now suffering and the people of Burlington are going to pay the ultimate price. Do the “leaders” of our fine city not drive cars? Shop on the weekend? Two events this week shone a light on the traffic issues we are facing now and will be facing in the future… the closure of the 407 and Dundas on Monday… the closure of the Burlington Skyway on Wednesday… Traffic, in Burlington, was horrendous on both of those days…

    And this is all before the intensification near the Burlington GO and on Lakeshore…

    Is quality of life not a concern for anyone ?!?!?

    • David, Powerpoint is always helpful when you’re trying to illustrate visually what you’re talking about (eg. geographic distance between schools, or charts). One page summaries help outline the key concepts. All methods will be needed as this issue shifts now to the Trustees. The public delegation evenings are May 8 and 11, and Powerpoint Presentation are very effective in this context, supplemented by a written handout.

What's your take?

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