Back in the early 2000's parents figured out what was needed - the result was a merger of Brock with Lord Elgin to create Bateman. Why not take it a step further and merge Bateman with Nelson?

highschoolsBy Staff

June 6th, 2017



Stephen and Jennifer Beleck have lived in Burlington for 31 years. Of their three grown children, two graduated from Nelson and the third from Lord Elgin.

During their delegation to the Board of Education trustees recently they told the story of what happened to the high school one of their children was attending.

“In 2001-2002 the Lord Elgin high school parent council was faced with school closures in Halton. It was apparent that a number of High Schools below the QEW were being considered for closure.

“After meetings with Lord Elgin High School (LEHS) Parents & students the LEHS parent council decided to meet with the General Brock High School (GBHS) parent council. After a review of options both parent councils agreed to explore the concept of a Composite school. After investigation into the Composite high school option both councils agreed it could work for the students of both schools.

“A Composite High School could expose academic and general (applied) stream students to vocational opportunities.

“A Composite highschool could also address the issue of many Burlington students not considering the vocational stream as many students and parents had a negative and false opinion GBHS.

“When considering the Composite high school option the Elgin/Brock councils met to discuss the meshing of the two school populations and the possible problems.

“After discussion and feedback from students, parents, teachers and consultation with HDSB staff it was agreed that we could proceed with this Composite high school option.

General Brock high school

General Brock was merged with Lord Elgin – the new school was re-named the Robert Bateman high school – which the Director of Education has recommended be closed. The ward trustee has recommended merging Bateman high school with Nelson high school.

That merger in 2004 resulted in the Robert Bateman High School we have today.

What is interesting about this story is that it was the school councils that led the process. They came up with a solution and took it to the Board and the Board bought into it.

Has public involvement gotten to the point where parents are limited to meetings where they are expected to sit and listen to bureaucrats lead them through an exercise in which they have no input?

What happened during the PARC process? Why were they not able to arrive at a consensus and just tell the Board staff and by extension the school board trustees that none of the options really served the community – and therefore they would collectively agree that option 7 – closing no schools – was their choice and then insist that the trustees bow to the will of the parent representatives?

Instead the PAR committee allowed themselves to battle with each other and everyone lost.

There is a lesson in that early 2000 experience that saw Lord Elgin and Brock work out the problems at the parent level.

The Beleck’s put it rather well when they said: “By working together we created a new concept Composite high school.  A closure issue turned into a positive result for all of Burlington/Halton!!!

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1 comment to Back in the early 2000’s parents figured out what was needed – the result was a merger of Brock with Lord Elgin to create Bateman. Why not take it a step further and merge Bateman with Nelson?

  • Gary Scobie

    This story is a testament to the good things that can happen when true community involvement takes place. Having policies designed by provincial bureaucrats at arm’s length and implemented by regional staff and trustees who are not all local to the community involved has proven to be a recipe for mistakes in planning, information sharing and options presented.

    Pitting schools and neighbourhoods against each other for survival is a zero sum game. There are no winners, not even the students the policies are supposedly designed for.

    This is yet another example of what is so wrong with provincial school building, maintenance and closure policies. The trustees would be true to their mission by voting to close no high schools at this time until an actual community approach can be developed. That is the message to send to the province. Let’s hope they get it.