Blow back against Meed Ward begins - are these people throwing in the towel?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 22, 2017



The blow back begins.

With a recommendation from the Director of Education on which schools Board staff believe should be closed now on the table and in the hands of the trustees the snarky remarks begin.

Meed WArd at PARC

Meed Ward at a PARC meeting. She certainly wasn’t the most vociferous member of the PARC.

There was always concern over ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward sitting on the Program Accommodation Review Committee – some felt she had a conflict of interest. Her council colleagues didn’t support the position she took.

Meed Ward has a son at the school – she therefore qualified to represent the school and if the parents wanted her to represent them – then why can they not have the person they want.

One comment: (We are not identifying the people who made comments)

“Really! So you are telling me that Marianne Meed Ward’s political pull had nothing to do with it? It was a conflict of interest of Marianne being allowed to sit on the PARC. Unfortunately, no one on the Board had enough guts to say so. Because there was a quite of few people that questioned her being on the PARC.”

This commentator clearly doesn’t understand what influence a member of city Councillor has – little too nothing in this school board matter.

Another commentator asked:

I question the influence of a sitting City council member on the PAR Committee and want to better understand the role this played in Director Miller’s change of heart.

The Gazette doesn’t think Meed Ward got any closer to Miller’s ear than anyone else.

The Central people put up a very strong case; they brought to the attention of the Board information the Board did not have and they raised a lot of questions that no one else was raising.

If Meed Ward brought anything to the PAR it was her optimism and the courage of her convictions. Perfect she isn’t but she did have the courage to venture into what she had to know were going to be troubled waters.

A third comment:

It’s unbelievable, although the Central gang had Meed Ward on their side which was patently unfair.

PAR presentation - ay Bateman Nov 2 HDSB

Attendance at the first public meeting at which the Board of Education went into the community to explain the process. Bateman parents just didn’t show up.

The Bateman parents do face a very difficult situation. The decision they need to make is – can they convince the trustees to make a different decision – and if they can’t – what can they do to make the best of a disappointing situation. Blaming someone else is not going to make anyone’s situation any different.

Parents also need to do something about that paltry $500 being offered for a goodbye school party.

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23 comments to Blow back against Meed Ward begins – are these people throwing in the towel?

  • Teri

    Hans – she is hiding. Why has she not commented or said anything about the report? For the last couple weeks she has been saying she wanted no school closures – we have report from the Director saying he wants to close two schools! Time for her to speak up!
    She would never get my vote!!

  • Tom Muir

    Sharon and Denise,

    I agreed with you about Central starting early, in October, as they were picked for closure at the start, but Bateman and others, not until February, due to PARC listings.

    At the December 8 Board meeting where the 25 question survey was done, the attendance was: Central 58.6%; Pearson 16.8%; Hayden 16.8%; Aldershot 2.7%, Nelson 2.3$, Bateman 2%; Robinson 0.8%.

    Whatever the reasons you describe, the schools not named for closure (plus Hayden) did not show up. This is what I mean by them being lulled, and Central being fired up at the start. This was the Board plan and it worked.

    I understand the frustration about the huge logistics of fighting a cause, and the anger, but at this stage anger won’t hurt anyone but the angry. It is not an emotion to build a strategy on to keep schools open.

    I agree that closing Bateman is a tragedy for the students there. As you say, it is the “home” they found after wandering in lost in the system.

    And I would like Miller to explain how this closing of their home is good for those students, and will provide more opportunities for them, as he says this is all about.

    I think we are a demonstrably rich enough community to support this school for the sake of these kids alone, and more that will surely come, but we can also figure out ways to utilize more of the space.

    As Lisa Bull and friends so well described, the Board has done a miserable job and utterly failed to seriously look at even the minimum directions issued by the Ministry about how this may be done.

    Bateman is a special place that I cannot begin to describe – partly because I don’t know enough, but at the same time, I know too much to state it all here. That’s part of what I read, but that’s what your group has described already.

    If the Trustees have any heart at all, they must be made to see that.

    And the community center and pool are left hanging by Miller, so what about the loss of opportunities for the kids and everyone else in that?

    In my opinion, the only way to save individual schools is to save all the schools, as I have described in my comments here and in other stories.

    We have to figure out how to coordinate everyone’s efforts to save their school, to keep them open, into a defense of them all.

    Staying angry will only backfire on the angry.

    In any case, it is the Board that any anger should be directed at, not each other.

    The Board created the conditions they wanted so that this would happen. Don’t be a sucker any longer.

  • Sharon

    And yes where is MMW now. I am surprised she has kept quiet this long.

  • Sharon

    I would like to remind you that Central started their campaign last October. They were in the Burlington Santa Claus which I thought was interesting. It was a Christmas Parade after all. As Denise said they had a huge parent committee.
    Yes, Bateman was in 6 options but we were not put on the table until February. Not a lot of time to start trying to plan our game plan. However, we did the best we could for what time we had to work with. We rallied twice, held a Bateman Hug, have had exposure in newspapers, radio show and the Halton Insider.
    Denise is right we were the only PARC reps (Lisa Bull and myself) that did not write another option against another school.
    People say communities were pitted against each other. And they are right they are and you can thank MMW for that.
    Bateman is now underway planning our next moves. We are not going away quietly. I will fight for this school until June 2019 if I have too.
    Final Note: There were 6 of us that I know of that went and complained that MMW had a conflict of interest. And we were told that she was a parent of a student of Central and Aldershot. And the situation would be monitored. Clearly it was not.

  • Denise

    Tom, I am glad you’re raising these points as they need to be addressed since only a small group really know what’s gone on behind the scenes. If you’ve ever fought a cause you’ll know that you need to get the boots on the ground to get anything done. With Meed Ward’s contacts, the deck was stacked in Central’s favour from the beginning. Bateman was no less involved and no less passionate but we had a much more difficult time getting the word out and that is a HUGE part of the battle.
    We were not mulled, we were delivering flyers door to door on rainy nights, meeting in coffee shops trying to figure out how to raise money for signs and emailing anyone we could think of. I delegated twice to city hall and have written columns as well as making lots of calls and sending lots of emails.
    There is so little media in this town, it’s hard to get the word out. Indeed, I would bet a ton of people still don’t know what’s going on.
    In contrast, Central was able to hit the ground running, thanks to MMW. Take a look back at Pepper’s story on one of the first Central meetings. There were hundreds of people there which means they had a wealth of experience to draw on from the beginning. Add to that some high powered alumni who stepped in and no doubt had more than a few meetings with Miller and that was the tipping point.
    At some point the Central folks decided it wasn’t enough to just save Central, they needed a sacrificial lamb to throw on the fire. That was Bateman. For the record – and I will repeat – no other school went after another school like that and I challenge anyone to find one instance of that.
    I even emailed MMW when I read the story in the Post with one of her parents saying “Bateman was the problem” and said we should all work together to stop these closures. She never addressed that point. When you say people supported her being on the committee, of course they did. Who wouldn’t want a high-profile politician heading up their fight.
    To be clear, Central didn’t have any more love for their school than Bateman, they just had more people, more organizing power. And they ran with it. If Bateman had been your typical school, that strategy would have been underhanded and sneaky. But it isn’t. It’s packed full of special ed. kids, the highest number in the city, most of who went to several schools before they got there and finally found their home.
    This is not only a tragedy for the south east end, (who also uses that school as their community centre), it’s a disaster for all of the youth in this city who need those services. There is zero chance that environment can be replicated by splitting up those services. It’s shameful.
    As for your suggestion to seek a unity and fight for all of the schools, Central has made sure that won’t happen.

  • Teri

    What I want to know is where is MMW now? No comment about the report, no posts or statements.
    She had lots to say before, what’s taking her so long to say anything?

  • Sharon

    I agree with Denise

    • Tom Muir

      Sharon and Denise,

      I recognize your point, and you were on the front lines, so I sympathize.

      However, I thought that when only 2 schools were named at the start, pretty much all the rest just got lulled and stayed home. No help from these guys to save schools.

      In fact, using this the Board said the public survey they did was biased to the 2 or 3 schools that showed up so it wasn’t valid. That was pretty much what they said about the other surveys they did – biased and/or not valid due to limited sample and self-selection.

      It was only when many more schools were tossed into the closures options, that those parents got interested. Then it was school against school, make no mistake, from what I learned.

      I never saw anyone really speaking to saving all the schools – option 7b was begrudgingly accepted at the last minute, and it was in second place to closing 2 schools in the dot-vote that was done.

      I wasn’t there to see first hand, but you are likely right that Central put up the biggest fight – remember, they got fired up big time, and got organized right out of start, and didn’t have much competition.

      I imagine this situation didn’t last once the others were named and jumped in.

      If what you say is true about putting forward Bateman as a closure, then you proved my point – that’s what the Board wanted and structured, and it was ripe to happen.

      MMW was in a difficult position, but people supported her being on the Committee. Sharman jumped in, along with Lancaster a bit. The rest of City did nothing that I heard of – just washed their hands.

      I agree that MMW did use her newsletter, but not to excess as I saw it, but maybe you can inform us better about what you saw.

      And I saw many comments from other people and schools in the newsletter, so they had some outlet to vent.

      But I’m not confident that Miller was listening as it didn’t make much difference.

      So now we have to move forward and seek unity in a fight for all the schools. I have talked about this above and elsewhere. You cannot quit.

      Miller’s plan is based on bungled planning, both from the past, and for the future, and is destructive in it’s actions.

      Get your gangs together and plan a delegation and information deluge on the Trustees, to defend all our schools by defending each and every one as a unique and needed piece of our education system and community.

      You people know all the reasons why, and you need to break them down and assemble a number of chapters in your stories, the integration of which shows why we need them all.

      Miller is not our friend. He and his Board would tell me nothing and provide no information that I asked for repeatedly. I had to go to FOI.

      We will have to defend ourselves.

      Make no small plans.

  • Denise

    Let’s set the record straight. First, all of the schools have NOT been fighting against each other! Only one school – Central – has done that. They targeted Bateman to close instead of their own and they’ve done that shamelessly. Here is just one quote from a newspaper article- there are many more.
    “Central parents, led by Lynn Crosby, have been trying to pitch an alternative which would involve closing Robert Bateman.
    Crosby adds that closing Central would create a “big hole” in the downtown core, with no high school between Aldershot in the west and Nelson in the east.
    She acknowledges that their plan is opposed by the Bateman community, while recognizing that pitting schools against each other is a reality of the provincial approach to funding schools.”
    Bateman parents have never done this! Ever.
    Second, Meed Ward, as a high profile politician, had had access to far more resources than all other PAR members combined; an enewsletter that reaches thousands, political contacts and political know how. Getting the message out to people in order to mobilize and strategize is at least half the battle.
    With her involvement it immediately became an uneven playing field. Anyone who says it didn’t help the Central cause does not understand what it takes to advocate. I’m sure there was lots more to her involvement that we didn’t see. I have no doubt it was her idea to aggressively target Bateman.

  • Hans

    It’s time to replace Miller.

  • Tom Muir

    Regarding the way forward, parents have to immediately stop blaming their own kind – blaming the victims.

    It’s the Board that did this, with bungled and incompetent planning of Hayden, the consequences of which were kept secret.

    Here they are right now, the secret delayed cost in the form of 2 closed schools.

    They set it up, and they hide their culpability by not owning up to them creating the mess. The surplus seats and empty schools didn’t materialize from empty space.

    Miller’s report is written and reads like the empty seats all happened on their own. They did not.

    There has been no accountability or transparency here.

    It’s just like I said here, when this PAR started, about how the Board would behave and treat the parents as their adversaries.

    – turn the schools against each other in an unfair, forced fight to the death, outcome determined by the Board;
    – watch (and hope) the survivors lick wounds, and retreat from the arena, staying silent out of fear;
    – casualties blame survivors, and anyone and everyone except the Board;
    – everyone continues fight among themselves, casualties and survivors alike.

    Board strategy worked just as planned. They didn’t have to listen and didn’t. Everything was already decided that was consequential to their only real goal stated up front – close schools.

    I said that Miller told me in our conversation in early February, in no uncertain terms, that he didn’t want to close Central because it is downtown, would leave a huge hole in the city, and have to bus everyone. He added – “but it has 300 empty seats.”

    He already knew that before any PARC process, and I say it’s safe to say he didn’t close Central for those reasons alone.

    But he did want/need the similar 386 or so seats left in Bateman, after the Board drained more than half of it for Hayden. He just made everyone suffer the torture of the halfbaked process.

    The only chance left lies with the Trustees. They have the power to amend every resolution in the report, and to say nay to it all and/or part.

    Trustees must hear about this constantly until voting day.

    People must persist in pointing out all the misinformation and the manipulative process of the Board. Did they not hear what people said they wanted?

    I see nothing of substance of this in Miller’s report. This report is all sugar-coating of what he wants to do.

    As discussed by many observers here, including me, the Board cannot be trusted, and my FOI, part 1 of which was run here the other day, is proof of that.

    Critical analysis of the Miller report will add more. Look and see how it fits what you saw and heard.

    It’s a destructive action agenda for Burlington, schools and education.

    • Deb

      Tom, I have read all you have written on this matter and have found it well researched and very intriguing. I am a Bateman parent. I do not want our school, or any school in Burlington to close. my concern is that the trustees will not vote against the directors narrative. Since you seem to understand the process more than I, do you think it is in the best interest of the other cities in Halton (Oakville, Milton, Georgetown) if schools in Burlington close? What I am asking is will they receive extra funding for their schools if you knock a couple off the list in Burlington. I am not sure if each city in Halton receives funding from the same pot in the HDSB so to speak. In which case, the trustees from these other cities will likely vote in favour of shutting down our schools. I am concerned that as parents , we are now delegating, just to jump through hoops as a formality. So they can say they listened, but I am afraid the decision has already been made. Curious what your thoughts are on this?

      • Tom Muir


        This is a good question. I will spend some time looking into it and get back to you here, so keep an eye. I want to make sure my ideas are correct.

        I’m surprised that with all the focus on fiscal responsibility the Board did not instruct people in detail what the answers to your questions are.
        These answers are important and it’s not at all clear what they are.

        Initially, I think closures eventually save the Board money by reducing the costs of the keeping the schools that are deemed surplus. That’s the idea of closing schools.

        But they don’t correspondingly get more money income, just reduce costs. We need an estimate of what these costs and savings are.

        I think all the cities share the same pot, based mainly on enrollment but there may be special programs from school to school and city to city that vary.

        Overall, it is interesting that the Burlington surplus spaces are only about 3 to 4 percent of total Board enrollment, from what I learned along the way of the PAR.

        However, if Burlington needs more money than what is an equal share, then there may be an issue. It depends on how real the extra might be if it is real. I don’t know.

        One issue you raise is will other cities trustees vote against us. If new schools in growth areas, like Milton, North Oakville, and maybe Georgetown, depend on the Board getting rid of surplus places board-wide to get the money needed, then there is an incentive for them to do this.

        This is not clear, even with new rules, but it may be possible in some circumstances. I don’t see anything prohibiting such closures.

        I say never give up. Don’t yield to discouragement. If you quit, you lose for sure.

        You must say what you think and want or they don’t hear you and will think people have given up and don’t care enough about it to fight. Never quit.

        You may be right on all your counts of concern about it being fixed, the decision already made, but acting out that reality makes it fixed for sure. You have to tell them why Miller’s decisions are wrong, for all schools.

        The Trustees are elected, the Board staff are not, but report to the Trustees, who have an obligation to residents.

        Residents have a responsibility in turn to put their feet to the fire on the facts and what values are being upheld in their vote.

        Give them the best facts and delegation you can, all of you, from both the head and heart, and that will get their attention.

        I will look further into this and get back. We need to get closer to the money issues.

        • Deb

          Thank you so much for your response Tom. I so appreciate your insight :). And I will most definitely not give up! It is easy to get discouraged but I truly believe in my position that no schools should close. If I am chosen to delegate, then I can speak to specific issues and try to have my voice heard.

    • Mike Ettlewood

      Tom, eagerly awaiting parts 2-4 of your FOI journey.

  • Allison

    Marianne had the conviction the rest of Council lacked on this and in general. She’s the only member of council who fights for Burlington residents and the integrity of our community planning. Council should have also taken an advocacy role in favour of mitigating the impact of closures, if any, on the City’s growth plan. They did nothing, and Marianne’s work was all her own without any backing from Council. Other than Marianne, our council and Mayor generally prefer to sit back and let others (usually developers) run the City for their own gain. Instead of griping about the active role our Ward 2 councillor took in the process, residents of other Wards should be asking why their reps were AWOL.

  • Hans

    Re: “Her council colleagues didn’t support the position she took.” From what I’ve seen, that’s fairly typical of them.

  • Wayne Brown

    We all have the freedom to say and do what we wish…
    Including Marianne.

  • bonnie

    It can be debated as to whether or not Marianne MW should have taken a seat on the PARC but it was the Central community that fought for their school and brought forth data to support their arguments as to why Central should not close.