Board of Education decides to close two of the city's seven high schools. Pearson will close in June 2018; Bateman in 2020.

News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2017



In a meeting that went to past midnight the Halton District School Board decided to go along with the recommendation made earlier in the year by Director of Education Stuart Miller, to close two of the city’s seven high schools.


Intended to be a small school that served the community, Pearson went from a one time enrollment of more than 1000 to just several hundred.

Lester B. Pearson will see its last student in June of 2018,  Bateman high school will close much later – in 2020, with their students going in a number of different directions.

The lengthy meeting got seriously tangled up with one procedural motion bumping into another as trustee Amy Collard did everything she could to get her motion to keep Bateman high school open on the table.

The Board had both their legal counsel and a parliamentarian taking part to explain to the trustees what they could do and not do based on their bylaw.

Trustee Reynolds seem as determined to keep a motion to merge Bateman with Nelson off the table as trustee Collard was to keep it on.

Bateman - crowd scene

Bateman parents did everything they could to save their school; what they could not change was the declining enrollment in high school south of the QEW.

The Board decision, after hours of wrangling, was to end the life of Bateman high school and send its students in a number of different directions.

Throughout the debate, the major issue the board faced, that of declining enrollment, just didn’t find a solution. There are far too many empty seats in the classrooms south of the QEW.

Bateman parents fought very hard to keep their school open and were served very well by their trustee – but the hard fact of declining enrollment just could not be overcome.

There is considerable distrust amongst the Bateman parents that the interests of their children will not be as well served when they get to Nelson high school where many of them will move to eventually.

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17 comments to Board of Education decides to close two of the city’s seven high schools. Pearson will close in June 2018; Bateman in 2020.

  • D

    What is lost on most people is that Trustee Reynolds has the additional responsibility of representing students with Special Education Needs as she sits on the Special Education Advisory Committee. Last night she let those students down, this is the worst thing that could happen to our Special Education Students. Trustee Collard was championing the rights of these students while Trustee Reynolds was fighting against their rights at every turn. This is not what is best for Burlington….or maybe it is for downtown Burlington but not the rest

  • Lisa Bull

    Karen – to be clear any concerns that I have about Trustee Reynold’s conduct are not about anything that she was elected to do. I live in her Ward and elected her to act with integrity to do the things she promised to do. She promised to keep schools open. She also agreed, as a Trustee to follow a Code of Conduct. Trustees are expected to discharge their duties and responsibilities in a profession & impartial manner. Their behaviours are guided by integrity, impartiality, INDEPENDENCE, accountability, TRANSPARENCY, leadership, responsiveness, honesty, confidentiality, legality & respect. In my humble opinion, being told specifically what to say and how to vote by someone sitting in the audience gallery does not constitute integrity, independence, transparency or honesty. I believe that she needs to be held accountable for this behavior and, as a constituent I believe that I have the right to ask for this.

  • Karen

    To add we ALL agree this was an asinine process instituted by the province.

  • Karen

    Mr. Atkinson. This is by no means a victory however this process was about more than one school. This process and these decisions effect every individual that enters into our secondary schools. The Trustees voted 10:1 for closure of Bateman. 8:3 vote for Closure of Pearson. One individual did not sway the vote. I gently remind you that Trustee Reynolds stood alone when voting against the PAR.
    Terri: you are correct but be clear ALL students deserve the best from our Elected officials.

    • Steve Atkinson

      Karen, respectfully , the objection is the bad optics when all city councillors voted no to involvement then 1 councillor joined the PAR. Miraculous last-minute change of decision by Miller. Sudden reversal by your Trustee to endorse said reversal and support school closure. I have never “slammed” the Central community, I naively thought we were in this together. Jokes on me. I am glad some schools remain open. I would support any school slated for closure, I reject closures entirely in my Ontario. I did not ask for this process, it was forced on us. It seems so mean-spirited for citizens to support closure when it was unnecessary.

      Trustees need our input, information and votes. This is their job, a political position. They answer to us and the Director answers to them. I am sure they all work very hard. Only 3 of 11 even bothered to answer any of my many requests. We did not get the result we wanted in our community, that’s fine. But its’ OK to demand integrity from our elected officials.

      Remember, elementary school PAR is next. The Director said so at the start.

  • Steve Atkinson

    Thank you George, it was certainly a shameful display.

    I feel like we’ve been swindled. None of this was necessary. They just wouldn’t listen. It is not conceivable that they even read or understood the delegations or their own responsibility. Why should we have to pay the price for inexperience, incompetence and be the guinea pigs for fledging politicians and their flip flops and clumsy self-serving machinations? Our trustee did not even request an extension! ( You don’t ask, you don’t get ).

    How could a trustee arrive at that meeting and still have all of these questions?

    • Tom Muir


      It’s funny, but I waited all day yesterday before I looked to see what was decided, officially, and the first word out of my mouth, to my wife, was the same as your expressed feelings – this is a swindle.

      I say this because that is just what it looks like, and feels like, in what was done and what happened.

      The Board led us to believe, when Hayden was planned and built, that the school seats were needed, and that the Ministry would pay the full cost.

      So like suckers, everyone fell for that, like who doesn’t want a new school for free, no strings attached.

      But after the build, then comes the sting. The new seats are actually now surplus in the old schools, as these schools were drained to fill the new.

      The sting is the PAR, and the con job is in full force. There is another cost in the fine print.

      The cost now includes two of our schools.

      But this added cost of Hayden, our two schools, is denied and covered up. No mention in the PAR. I tried for 7 months to get this in the open.

      Then we find out there is no accountability. Those we thought are accountable are running the sting.

      So if anyone feels this way, like cheated, deceived, tricked, then that’s how you feel and it’s true for you. Swindled is a synonym.

      Covering it up just makes it worse and suggests it is true.

      I remember you mentioning the Ombudsman and Administrative Review, so I suggest that now is the time to reactivate that idea, that I know is held by several others.

      It’s not over till it’s over, and this may be an avenue to follow.

      But a group is needed. No one person can do it. It needs at least 50 signatures.

      I would imagine that people have a lot of information to form the basis of a complaint.

      There is 30 days from the decision to consider this.

      What do people think?

      • Steve Atkinson

        Tom, thank you for your comment. The Ombudsman advised us we had to wait for the decision ( which is now ) and then submit the request for review. Administrative review information is on the Ministry of Educations website. I fully intend to do this in the next week, and will comment here or to the Gazette on what is required.

        I dont begrudge a decision going against what I hope for. But when the public is shut out of the process it is just plain wrong. In a letter to the Mayor and other public officials, I outlined a few concerns:

        1. Skewed survey
        2. Poor community engagement
        3. Councillor involvement
        4. Sudden decision change favouring Councillors Ward
        5. City programs in both schools closing
        6. Unanswered questions.

        Again , except for the Mayors’ office it was the usual 2 or 3 out of 11 respondees.

        I note that now the responses from Public Officials are very carefully “checking the boxes” of how they conformed to the requirements of the PAR. Someone is getting advice.

  • Karen

    I have been at every meeting and sat to thru last nights turmoil to the bitter end. Save Central group has been slammed for trying to save their community school and then slammed for not being more vocal to “save” other schools. We are parents and members of a community that wanted to keep our school in our community – No different then any other group canvassing to save their own school. Each school has something very unique and promising about it. The students that make up each of these schools bring their own diversity and struggles to school with them every day. Our Trustee and Ward Councilor have been “attacked” for doing the jobs that we elected them to do. There have been many personal verbal attacks to community members. ENOUGH! The horrible naming calling and hate needs to end. The Trustees have voted. Whether we like the outcome or not the decision to close 2 secondary schools in Burlington has been made. Sad indeed. Life altering indeed. School communities should not sit back and let this all unfold by the Board. The Director, Superintendants and the Trustees have “promised” to do better by making school facilities “better”. It is time for school communities to come together and ensure that HDSB delivers on these promises. ALL students in the Burlington school system deserve the best in EVERYTHING! Programs, enhanced placement opportunities, facilities, transportation modes to/from school. EVERY student – no matter race, location, creed, and ability deserve EVERYTHING that is available equally across the board. My suggestion is that the focus by school groups should now be on the facility upgrades and the transition plans. The community has proven they are a smart bunch and have the ability to come together to serve a purpose to its community Burlington in a I am asking that all parents from all schools come together and ensure that the Board delivers on their promises.

    • Steve Atkinson

      Sorry Karen, but it was YOUR Trustee who did the actions you describe. We asked you and your Trustee to stand with us. They voted to close our school instead. Enjoy your victory. And if I hear the word “Program” again I think I’ll be sick.

    • Teri

      Trustee Reynolds ran on a platform of ‘no school closures’ but she pushed for the closure of Bateman last night. Students deserve better than self serving politicians only concerned with advancing their careers.

  • Lisa Bull

    Echo the comments above from George. ‘Farce’ is a kind description of last night’s events. I also echo the comments in the story above – “Trustee Reynolds seem as determined to keep a motion to merge Bateman with Nelson off the table as trustee Collard was to keep it on.” So incredibly disappointed and honestly disgusted by Trustee’s Reynold’s aggressive campaign to close Bateman. It appears that the fear of Central somehow coming back under scrutiny moved Reynolds to an attack position – like somehow this is a zero-sum game. I expect more – decent conduct and respect for all students – from my elected officials. Those who live in Reynold’s ward deserve to know how she behaved last night. Central and Aldershot may be saved but this happened at the expense of other schools in Burlington and it didn’t need to. Shame on her.

    • JQ Public

      I too was very disappointed with the way last night’s meeting was conducted. And I too wish that Trustee Reynolds did not feel she had to resort to procedural wrangling in order keep Central’s name out of the discussion.

      The motion by Trustee Collard was a last ditch desperate attempt to save Bateman, in some form. But clearer thought at the time would have brought about the realization that the attempt was doomed to fail in a vote. There was no way a partnership that didn’t solve the south Burlington enrollment problem was going to pass muster with the regional trustees.

  • Ravi

    Anyone know what happens to the IB Program, specifically the dates of the move to Central? Has it been changed by Amy Collards amendment or was the amendment only targeting programs other than ib?

  • Jill

    You’re saying that Pearson closes this June?! Can you please correct as I believe it’s 2019.

    Editor’s note: Pearson will close in June of 2018

  • George

    Good Morning Burlington,

    It was a sad night and as you are probably aware both R Bateman and LB Pearson were voted for closure by the HDSB Trustees.

    The HDSB meeting was a farce:

    1. The chairperson (Kelly Amos) did not control the meeting according to Roberts Rules of Order and the meeting was halted several times to allow the HDSB legal advisor to explain the requirements of Roberts Rules of order

    2. The chairperson allowed Director Miller and his 5 or 6 superintendents to effectively filibuster the meeting

    3. Trustee Papin was a sorry excuse for representing LB Pearson with little and very poor input – the last minute half-baked proposal she made was dismissed as inappropriate (which it was).

    4. The only votes to keep R Bateman open came from Amy Collard (Burlington Trustee), Andrea Grebenc (Burlington Trustee), and Ann Harvey Hope (Oakville Trustee)

    5. Two Burlington Trustees voted to close R Bateman: Richelle Papin and Leah Reynolds

    6. The only votes to keep LB Pearson open came from Amy Collard (Burlington Trustee), Tracey Ehl Harrison (Oakville) and Richelle Papin (Burlington Trustee)

    7. Two Burlington Trustees voted to close LB Pearson Andrea Grebenc and Leah Reynolds

    The meeting went on forever because the chairperson allowed endless questions back and forth each time allowing the Director and staff to further explain and make further promises and endless detail plus call on his staff to continue with the explanation and details.

    Delegator Teresa Hunter spoke eloquently and reminded the HDSB Trustees that the Director of Education reported and was responsible to them, however other than Trustee Amy Collard and Ann Harvey Hope it appeared that the other HDSB Trustees were responsible to the Director.

    Trustee Amy Collard presented herself extremely well and did an excellent job of representing Burlington high schools. Amy Collard also was competent enough to get a delay in the closing of R Bateman high school. Hopefully this delay will allow Burlington to review its choices of HDSB Trustees after the next election.

    • Mike Ettlewood


      I agree with your comments and evaluation of the performance of the Burlington Trustees. It was a very difficult position for all of them but Trustee Collard acquitted herself very well. Her constituents were well served. I was particularly disappointed by Trustee Reynolds who seemed focused on propping up the Director’s recommendation and leaving Burlington Central harmless. Her procedural acrobatics around Trustee Collard’s motion served no one. It is unfortunate that the Save Central movement did not, after closing Central was taken off the table, put its considerable energy, skill and political force behind the ‘close no schools now/further study needed’ option. The process did, indeed, pit school against school and community against community. I think that we were all lessened by it.