Everything you need or want to know about the school your child attends - waiting for you on your cell phone with a Board of Education app.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 8th, 2018



The Halton District School Board has announced the launch of its mobile app that consolidates important information for parents, guardians and students into one easy-to-access location.

HDSB app screenThe app, a pilot project since October 2017 at four Burlington schools, is being rolled out to all 105 elementary and secondary schools in the Halton District School Board during Education Week (May 7-11).

Parents/guardians will receive a link to an instructional video to learn about the app features. The free app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play (search “Halton District School Board” or “HDSB”).
During the setup process, users will be prompted to “subscribe” to individual schools. This means parents/guardians can customize their news by choosing which schools they would like to receive information from, in addition to updates from the Halton District School Board.

Through a simple tap of the app, users have access to a series of icons containing helpful and timely information and resources, such as:

• Reporting student absences
• School news and calendar feeds
• Transportation information and updates
• School Cash Online
• Notifications about school closures and bus cancellations
• Access to school and Board news including media releases, school stories and videos
• Links to Board and school social media pages.
• All school contact information including maps to schools

Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education, Equity and Communications pointed out that “The ever-increasing use of mobile devices by our parents provides greater opportunities to communicate and connect.

“The Halton District School Board mobile app will provide families with quick access to information from their child’s school and the Board in one location.”

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There was nothing wrong with the decision the Public School Board made to rent Pearson high school to the Catholic Board. The problem was the way the public was informed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 7th, 2018



Sometime in April of this year the Director of the Halon District School Board (HDSB) said he got a call from the Director of Education for the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB).

The HCDSB had a problem and she felt there just might be a solution to that problem.


Assumption High School.

When the Assumption school on Upper Middle Road was built (1977) it was to be a Middle School. It became a high school over time. As a high school it was missing a lot of the needs of a high school particularly the labs.

The HCDSB wanted to build a new high school but could not get the funding they needed from the province.

They were able to get funding for a major renovation which in itself created problems. In would take an expected five years to complete renovations with students in the school which wasn’t something the HCDSB was looking forward to.

In 2016 the HDSB began a Program Accommodation Review of its high schools. In June of 2017 the HDSB trustees voted to close two of the seven high schools in the city.

PARC with options on the walls

Parents from every high school in Burlington took part in a Review process. As a committee they were unable to arrive at a consensus as to which schools should be closed.

Parents at both Bateman high school and the Lester B. Pearson high school were upset over the decision. They felt the process used by the Board was unfair and that the process set out was not followed. They took advantage of the opportunity to ask for a Review of the process.

The Bateman and Pearson parents could not appeal the actual decision – just the process. The Facilitator of the Review could suggest to the Minister of Education that the PAR process be done a second time.

The province considered the request for a Review and appointed Margaret Wilson to do that Review of the decision the trustees had made.

Miller Diane addressing Wilson HDSB

Margaret Wilson listening to parents who believed the Program Administration Review was flawed.

She turned in her report early in January of this year said: “Based on my review and consultations, I conclude that, while there were violations of the Board PAR Policy, they were such that they had no material effect on either the deliberations of the PARC or on the final decisions of the Board.”

With that decision the HDSB could begin the process of closing two high schools and arranging for the transfer of students to new high schools.

Pearson was to close in June of 2018 and Bateman was to close at the end of the school year in 2019 – which was extended to 2020.

The Director of the HDSB began the process of putting transition programs in place – moving the Pearson high school students to M.M. Robinson and moving the Bateman students to new facilities that would be built at Nelson high school.

The Gazette has been told that it was when the Margaret Wilson report was made public that the HCDSB Director made the call to the Director of the HDSB asking if they could rent the Pearson high school building for a short period of time.

Exactly when that call was made is not yet certain. It would appear that there was a 90 day period during which there were conversations and the arriving at a rental rate had to be determined.


Halton District School Board Director of Education speaking to parents at Central High School.

Stuart Miller, the Director of Education took the request to his Board of Trustees and in a closed session on May 2nd and explained to them the details of the request and what the HDSB was able to do.

A rental agreement was put together, the HCDSB approved it on May 1st and the HDSB approved it on May 2nd.

The decision was released to the public on May 3rd.

Parents and students who were going through the very emotionally difficult process of moving to a new school were not impressed with the decision and began to believe that the plan to close Pearson and let the Catholic school board use the building was always the plan.

That suspicion was fostered by the HDSB making the decision in a private session and then saying very little when the decision was made public.

The facts are that it was not until the Catholic school board knew that Pearson was going to be closed that they approached the HDSB to discuss a short term rental of the Lester B. Pearson building.

The HDSB just reacted to the request to lease the school.

trustees 2018

The Halton District School Board in session

They just didn’t involve the public nor prepare the parents for the decision that was going to be contentious.

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Why didn't the public school board trustees ensure that the Pearson high school parents know the full story behind the leasing of their school?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 4, 2018



There is absolutely nothing wrong with leasing out a school that is empty and not being used.

What is wrong is not telling the public what you have done.

The Halton District School Board leased the Lester B. Pearson high school to the Halton Catholic District School Board.

Pearson high school is schedule for closure in June of 2017 due to poor enrollment.

The parents at Pearson high school didn’t agree with that decision and argued vociferously that there school could be kept open if the Board kept the elementary feeder  schools in place.

Delegation May 8 HDSB

Pearson high school parents at a Board of Education meeting – they did everything they could to keep their school open.

The trustees didn’t see it that way and voted to close the school and have the Pearson students begin attending M.M. Robinson high school in September of 2018.

Merging the two student populations has not been an easy task. How well that merging is going to work will be known in September when the former Pearson students begin showing up at M.M. Robinson in September.

Some of the parents at Pearson have always felt there was some other reason for closing their school. Those suspicions were given some validity when the Board of Education, without any public discussion, met in a closed session to decide to lease the school the Catholic Board.

Some questions:

Who called who?

Did the Public school board call the Catholic school Board or was it the other way around?

When did the discussions about a leasing possibility take place?

The when is critical – and that may be the reason for the HDSB handling this matter in private session.

It is understood that the Catholic school board wants to do some major renovations to one of their high schools – Assumption, and that they wanted to close their school while the work was being done. Nothing wrong with that.

But did the Catholic School Board talk to the Public School Board before the trustees had made a decision to close Pearson?

Did the availability of an opportunity to lease the school have any influence on the decision to close Pearson?

And why is the public learning about this now?

At the May 2nd meeting of the HDSB, vice chair Ehl Harris read into the record two resolutions that were passed in the private session to:

Approve the resolutions from private session respecting property matters.

Ehl Harris moved the motion, Oakville trustee Kelly Amos quickly seconded the motion. There was a bit of confusion whether trustee Papin wanted to be the seconder of the motion (Pearson high school is in her ward)

Board Chair Grebenc said to trustee Papin “You don’t actually want to speak do you?”

Miller while motion being read May 2-18

Director of Education Stuart Miller during the vote to approve resolutions made in a closed session of the Board of Education.

When it was clear that Papin didn’t want to speak – she just wanted to be the seconder of the motion, the chair then asked if anyone else wanted to speak.

Not a word from anyone.

They voted and that was that – Pearson is leased to the Catholic Board for a year.

Everything was going according to whatever plan was hatched in the private session- this Board of trustees was going to make sure they stayed on script.

Get the resolutions on the record as quickly and as quietly as you can and move on.

There is no surer way to lose the trust of the public than to try to fool or hood wink them; and without public trust there can be no growth and without growth the students who enter those schools lose and cynicism takes over.

Why did Stuart Miller not tell the public how the opportunity to lease a school he no longer needed to another school Board came about?

Burlington has a community that just doesn’t trust it’s school board trustees. And there is, on the surface, very good reason not to trust them.

This story isn’t over.

Related news story.

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Board of education announces that is has leased a school it is about to close.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 4th, 2018



A media release from the Halton District School Board:

“At the May 2, 2018 meeting, trustees of the Halton District School Board passed a motion to temporarily lease Lester B. Pearson High School to the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) beginning November 1, 2018. This request from the HCDSB serves as temporary accommodation for Assumption Catholic Secondary School students during the school’s upcoming renovation expected to begin in late 2018.

“This temporary lease of the school by the HCDSB will commence on November 1, 2018 to prepare the school for student accommodation during the second semester. The term of the lease will end on August 31, 2019.

“This provides a responsible use of the school facilities until the Halton District School Board determines the future use of the school property according to Ontario Regulation 444/98. The leasing of this school property to another school board is not precedent setting. The Halton District School Board has leased school facilities to other school boards in the past on a temporary basis.

“Lester B. Pearson High School will be closing at the end of June 2018 with students moving to nearby M.M. Robinson High School.”

There was not a word of public debate on this matter during the May 2nd Board of trustees meeting.

The Board meets in closed session for a period of time before each public meeting. They pass motions during those private meetings and debate in private.

What the public got to hear was a motion that approved all the motions about a “property matter”done in the closed session. And then the next day the releases of a media notice.

And that was the extent of what the elected trustees had to say.

At each Board of Education meeting there is a report from the Director of Education – he didn’t say a word either.

trustees 2018

Halton District School Board trustees in session

Related editorial material:

An opinion on the approach the Board took.

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Summer job opportunities listed.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 3rd, 2018



The federal government has a program that funds jobs for students during the summer. Employers apply for a portion of money they pay students they hire for the summer months.

The jobs are then listed and students can look and see if there is anything they are interested in.

The program offers students meaningful summer work experiences with local businesses and organizations, and helps them to facilitate future transitions from school to career.

Damoff with Habitat students

Students with MP Pam Damoff talking about Summer job opportunities at Habitat for Humanity Restore

Since 2015, the federal government has doubled the number of jobs created through the Canada Summer Jobs program, creating paid work experience for nearly 70,000 students each year. Students who worked at  Habitat for Humanity Halton- Mississauga last summer described their experience with Canada Summer Jobs, saying:

“The Canada Summer Jobs program has been such a fulfilling and enriching experience—I am truly fortunate to have enjoyed two successful summers at Habitat for Humanity. I have gained so much valuable and tangible experience from my time here.”

Students aged 15 to 30 who are returning to full time school in the fall can apply for a valuable summer work experience through Canada Summer Jobs.

In making the announcement earlier this week Oakville North Burlington MP Pam Damoff xxx

If you or someone you know is interested in applying you can find the complete list of employers hiring in Oakville North Burlington.

Please feel free to contact Damoff’s at pam.damoff@parl.gc.ca or by phone at 905-847-4043 for more information.

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Burlington Central High School students prepare community dinner

News 100 yellowBy Shannon Russell

May 2nd, 2018



On Thursday, April 26th the students of Mrs. Yott’s Food and Nutrient class volunteered at Wellington Square United Church to help prepare the weekly Friday Night Community Dinner hosted by the church.

There were a total of eleven excitable students who walked from Burlington Central High School to the Church to showcase their talents in the kitchen, crafts and care packages. The eleven students that were involved in this endeavour were Alexis Ray, Kerala Mathew, Se Heon Bae, Cameron Sagar, Elissa Radanovic, Shannon Russell, Sarah Mulay, Lily Blythe, Reagan Day, Nicole Ubando and Anisa Hussein.

Shannon students

Burlington Central High School students prepare community dinner at Wellington Square United Church.

The eleven students helped make a variety of culinary delights including different types of cookies and muffins. “We were basically feeding an army.” Said Elissa. It was told by one of the church representatives that there would be over 300 people coming to this helpful and weekly event.

While some students were cooking away in the kitchen others were more than happy to help with the crafts. “During the tour, when my friends and I found out that the church created dolls and teddy bears for children in the hospital, we couldn’t stay away; especially since the elders making them were so kind.” Explained Shannon. The students sat there working with the ladies for a good hour and didn’t want to leave.

The students also helped organize care packages which carried five juice boxes and ten snacks for children in need. “It takes a weight off the parents shoulders financially knowing that their child has food for school.” Said Hazel another regular volunteer at the church.

There was a lot of work packed into the six hours the students spent at the church but it was pleasurable at the same time. Everyone was so engaged with helping that the time seemed to slip by quickly.

Afterwards, the students were able to reflect on their excursion and the consensus was they would love to return to the warm and caring environment to replicate their experience.

The Burlington Central High School, Food and Nutrient class would like to express their gratitude to the representatives of Wellington Square Church for making the time spent there memorable.

Shannon RussellShannon Russell is a very keen grade 10 student who also swims competitively at a national level. Her main interests include: swimming and hanging out with friends.

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East Plains Co-operative Preschool gets close to half a million to create 25 new childcare spaces.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

May 2nd, 2018]



The money just keeps rolling in.

The province is going to pump $460,000 into the East Plains Co-operative Preschool making it easier for families in Burlington to find high-quality licensed child care; 25 new spaces will be created.

East Plains Road pre-schoolThese new spaces will help to accommodate families taking advantage of the government’s free preschool child care program.

This is part of a series of actions the government is taking to ensure that every child and family has access to a range of high-quality and affordable child care.

This funding is on top of the government’s investment in renovation and addition projects at schools across the province, which will create more than 15,000 new licensed child spaces.

It is the latest step in creating 100,000 more child care spaces for children up to four years old over the next five years.

Since September 2016, Ontario has increased access to licensed child care for a total of 31,000 children aged 0-4.

Beginning in 2020, the government is making licensed preschool child care absolutely free for kids from age 2.5 until they are eligible to start kindergarten.

Building more child care spaces and making child care more affordable will give parents, especially women, more choice about when and if they return to work.

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Week-long celebration of inclusivity and student achievement.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

May 1st, 2018



Education Week from May 7-11, 2018

School Boards are the largest employers in the Region – they have a budget of xxx and we rely upon their product to solve our social, economic and environmental problems.

What happens in the schools reverberates around the kitchen table of every household in the city. There is a lot to pay attention to and a lot of questions to be asked.

The province has set the theme for the 2018 “celebration”: Equity in Action.

equity and inclusionSchools are encouraged to share their equity successes and learn from one another. In Halton, the annual week-long recognition includes a wide variety of activities that demonstrate education in action, celebrate inclusivity and student achievement.

The Board is holding its annual Celebration of Student Excellence event at M.M. Robinson High School Thursday, May 10 starting at 7:30 p.m.

One student per school is selected for this honour by their excellence in academics, vocational, athletic, self-improvement, community work, citizenship or student leadership.

Family math night

Family math night.

Many schools have organized events that focus on student success and highlight the theme of Education Week. They include:

Brant Hills Public School is hosting a Family Math Night on May 9 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Parents/guardians will learn about Manipulatives, Number Talks, Dreambox learning software and other mathematics resources.

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A school with a program that will focus on innovation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics begins to take shape.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 30th, 2018



It was an idea that came out of the contentious Program Accommodation Review last June that resulted in the Halton District School Board trustees deciding to close two of the seven Burlington high schools; both south of the QEW.

During that process almost every high school was at risk of being closed. Central high school was recommended for closure along with Lester B. Pearson.

Central got saved and Bateman was set up for closure instead.

Aldershot high school, which had extremely low student population, was a natural for closure but it was kept open.  Somewhere along the way during the PAR discussion someone suggested there was an opportunity to try something different with Aldershot high school.

Maybe an incubator school; maybe a school with a specialized course offering; could it be called a magnet school? Ideas were tossed around but at the time the issue was the closing of different schools and no one paid all that much attention to the Aldershot situation.

Hammil + Miller

Director of Education Miller with a classroom teacher during one of the Robotics events.

Director of Education Stuart Miller stayed with the idea and worked it up into a proposal that he put before the trustees; they bought into it and Senior Staff, along with parents who were close to desperate to do whatever it took to keep their community high school open.

A team made up of Superintendents Blackwell, Truffen and Huntley-Gibbons put their heads together and looked for ways to fully involve a very willing group of Aldershot parents who were interested in a progressive, vibrant program for their school that was not only different but more in tune with progressive educational thinking.

The community came up with some surprising ideas – there were the usual – an arts school, a school with an Environmental focus and maybe a school with a High Performance Athletic program. What wasn’t expected was an Alternative calendar school; a school with a Health and Wellness focus; Post Secondary Partnership Opportunities; Social Justice/Social entrepreneurship and a school for students who learn differently.

The intention was to create a program within the high school that would continue to offer the standard curriculum offering.

Blackwell + Tuffen as a team

Superintendents Blackwell and Truffen during a presentation to the Board of Trustees.

The team developing the concept took it to the trustees who heartily supported the idea of going forward and doing what was needed to have the first class of what were going to be school with an iStem program. iStem is the acronym for innovative, science technology, engineering and mathematics.

The objective is to have students in classrooms for September of 2019. They had their work cut out for themselves.

Earlier in the month more than 75 people including educators, community leaders and people from industry met for a full day in A Think Tank format to collaborate on what the future might look like at Aldershot High School. The new program, beginning in September 2019 for Grade 9 students, will foster innovation and incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

design workshopThe iStem  program will equip students with global competencies, also known as transferable skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, self-directed learning, collaboration, communication and citizenship. Project-based learning, design thinking, entrepreneurial thinking and experiential learning opportunities through community and post-secondary partnerships will be essential elements of the program to enhance learning opportunities for students.

The day-long event encouraged brainstorming, collaboration and creativity in support of student learning. The discussions were set out under six subject areas:

Marketing/Branding Ideas
What will people want to know about the course offering? How might we communicate? Who might help us?
How knowledgeable are parents about STEM learning in school? How well informed are parents about the importance of STEM for career opportunities?

Learning: Taking Learning Outside and Inviting Learning Inside
What is the role of industry in providing support in education and career connections? How do we broker partnerships and engage in a meaningful way?
How can we establish and nurture strong relationships with partners outside the education system?
How can the community and local business be selectively engaged in education?
To what extent are STEM stakeholders outside the education system (e.g. community organizations, industry) collaborating to improve STEM education? Where are the gaps?

Competencies and Skillsets vs. Credentials
What are the post-secondary institution discussions about appropriate entry requirements for our future society and economy?
How might post-secondary institutions actively partner with schools in support of STEM learning?
How might we align post-secondary entry requirements with K-12 education evolution?

Learning through STEM
To what extent has K-12 STEM education integrated?
competency-based approaches?
relevant issues-based approaches?
interdisciplinary approaches?
new technologies to support learning?
How can we integrate experiential learning and interdisciplinary learning into STEM learning?

Innovation Hubs
Today’s hubs are no longer just tech-business incubators—they’re dynamic spaces where entrepreneurs in industries like education, social enterprise, and communications technology can access incubation services, use co-working and lab spaces, and make crucial connections. Hubs have the freedom to curate its tenants, develop unique programs and partnerships, and build networks in support of student learning.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review sets out four dimensions of an innovation hub:

1. Hubs build collaborative communities with entrepreneurial individuals at the centre
2. Hubs attract diverse members with heterogeneous knowledge
3. Hubs facilitate creativity and collaboration in physical and digital space
4. Hubs localize global entrepreneurial culture

Why? What if…? How might we…?
Innovative STEM education requires the engagement of multiple stakeholders: governments, educators, parents, community organizations, the science and technology research community, post-secondary institutions and businesses.

How do we collectively support attitudes, values and knowledge?
Participants explored how the I-STEM program could be designed to:
Ensure students have multiple experiential learning opportunities
Foster partnerships between students, post-secondary institutes, government and local organizations
Provide increased exposure to STEM fields

“We have a game-changing opportunity here,” said Bonnie Schmidt, President of Let’s Talk Science, a national organization involved with the Canada 2067 discussion on the future of STEM education to prepare students to “live, learn and contribute to their communities in the economies and societies of the future.”

With technological change, shifting demographics, and increased globalization being the key forces shaping the future of work, participants discussed how these factors can be considered when preparing students for their future.


Superintendent Blackwell.

Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education said: “In a world of continual change with evolving science, technology and innovation, we have the opportunity to develop global citizens who contribute to solving complex economic, social and environmental problems.”  “The Think Tank event provided an opportunity to build a vision for learning in the iStem program, share ideas for the future of learning, and build community and post-secondary partnerships.”

concept symbolNext steps in the development of the iStem program will be to analyze the feedback and ideas generated at the event and establish a professional learning plan with staff.

If done right, and there is every reason to believe that the team creating the iStem program will get it right, the Aldershot high school could become the school to get into and the place where teachers who go above and beyond with their students every day will want to teach,

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Workshop on incorporating native plants in your garden.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

April 27th, 2018



Does the arrival of spring weather have your thoughts turning to your garden? Perhaps you’re thinking of a way to incorporate native plants and don’t know where to start?

There is a workshop at Royal Botanical Gardens on Saturday, May 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Designing Your Native Landscape workshop at Royal Botanical Gardens.

RBG plants

Will your garden look like this after the workshop?

You will be taught how to choose and maintain native plant gardens and what type is right for your property.

You will learn about how to work with the soil you have and how to incorporate raised garden beds into your design.

You will also have a chance to speak one-on-one with a garden expert about a plan for your property. The cost of the workshop is $40 (including HST) and includes a tour of a native garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens, a catered lunch, resources and giveaways.

The speakers include:
Erin Mallon, Stewardship Technician, Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark
Charlie Briggs, Staff Gardener, Royal Botanical Gardens
Tara Nolan, Author and Raised Garden Bed Expert
Crystal Bradford and Liam Kijewski, Native Garden Designers and owners of Wildlife Gardening
Sean James, Master Gardener and owner of Sean James Consulting and Design

To attend the Designing Your Native Landscape workshop, you are asked to pre-register. You can find the link to register at the event listing on the Events Calendar at www.conservationhalton.ca/events.

The Designing Your Native Landscape Workshop is on Saturday, May 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Classroom 5 in the RBG Centre, 680 Plains Road West in Burlington.

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Rivers: what role will education play in the provincial election? Think about the graduation rates.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 27th, 2018



The Liberals have been in power now for a decade and half, even though Kathleen Wynne has been premier for less than half that time. But people are saying it’s time to change, time for a change. They’re tired of the Liberals.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford

Doesn’t everything need to change at some point – it all eventually gets old and tired and needs to be replaced. It’s called transition and life – it’s normal, right? ‘Choose Change’ was the slogan Dalton McGuinty used when he whomped the tired old Ernie Eves Tories back in 2003 with an impressive 46% of the popular vote. That is the ballpark that Mr. Ford now finds himself in as he prepares to take over the reins of Ontario’s provincial government – the pre-emptive premier.

And there are so many reasons to give Premier Wynne the boot. Take education. Did you know that not every student who enters into secondary school graduates from it. Only 86.5 % of adolescents end up with a school leaving certificate in this province. Places like Ukraine actually score over 100% on some of their graduation statistics, though that may just be old Soviet-style statistics still at play.

86%Of course 86% is better than 69% , which was the graduation rate Ontario used to be so proud of back in the days when Mike Harris was in power. But a lot of things have changed. Ontario now has an early education program with universal junior kindergarten, so those little rug-rats can get into the learning mode earlier – something which will benefit them later in life all the experts agree. Although it’s a bit of a stretch to credit our improved graduation rate entirely to the relatively few early educated represented in this statistic.


Early education

Early education – for two-and-a-half year olds will mean a sea change to the notion of day care and child minding.

The latest Liberal budget would see children as young as two and a half be eligible for free, presumably, Montessori-style early education. Free early education for two-and-a-half year olds will mean a sea change to the notion of day care and child minding. Even the early educators themselves will need to be better educated. A big bonus is the extra pocket money saved by working moms and dads struggling to keep their financial heads above water.

Labour peace may also be a factor that has influenced this double digit climb in graduation from Ontario’s high schools. The last major teacher strike was back in 1997. It’s possible that happy teachers make better teachers and more motivated students. And it’s also possible that the stress of labour-government infighting took its toll on the desire of students to stay in school back then. After all, if your government has no respect for teachers…well… And Mike Harris and ‘create-a-crisis’ John Snobelen, having dropped out of university and high school respectively, may not have been the best role models in those dark days of the nineties.

Perhaps tuition-free university for those in financial need also has had an impact. Students who may have once thought…”what’s the point of finishing school, I can’t afford to go on to higher education anyway”… may have found new motivation to succeed. Apparently 235,000 students have benefited from free higher education, including 10,000 single mothers.

86.5% is just above the Canadian average in high school graduation rates, with only Nova Scotia and PEI slightly ahead of Ontario. Those provinces are also governed by Liberals, but then so is Quebec which is quite a way down the list. The gospel is that an improvement in Ontario’s education outcomes will lead to a more productive economy and more prosperous population. That will be critical as the province faces its future.

sex edThere has been a lot of talk about removing sex-education from the elementary school curriculum. It takes time away from other topics, like Lego or computers. Shouldn’t it be left to the parents to talk about something so sensitive? And hadn’t these children’s parents eventually figured it out on their own anyway, one way or the other. After all, it’s as natural as having a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. Your body will tell you what to do – right?

Sexual relationships are one of the most significant aspects of a young teenager’s development. So will getting the basics right help students better get on with/over with sex and leave more time and effort for concentration on their studies? The issue is a muddy pool teeming with education psychologists and the religious moralists each eating the other for lunch.

But teen pregnancies, which can increase school drop out rates, are on the rise in Canada and there is still inconclusive evidence that early sex-ed alone mitigates that effect – despite the logic of it all. Economics and economic opportunities seem to play a larger role in this matter, and fortunately for any new government today’s Ontario’s economy is booming. But perhaps even more importantly, young people, who don’t usually have a lot of pocket money, are now entitled to free pharmacare, so at least they can afford prevention.

We desire higher grad rates because that should deliver a more productive economy and a more prosperous society. And a better educated population should be expected to make better decisions, especially when it comes to election issues and elections. Many of those new grads will be eligible to vote or at least in a position to influence how their friends and family vote. And that may help determine whether there is a new Ford government which will have the choice of lifting the province’s grad rate closer to 100%, or letting it fall back towards the 68% the last time the Tories were in power.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

High School Graduation –    Teacher Strikes –    Disparity in Grad RatesTeen Pregnancies

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Earth Day - real spring weather and a movement to rid the planet of plastic straws.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

April 22nd, 2018



It is going to be a day when we can actually appreciate the day we were given.

We have been into spring for weeks – how any depends on which unit of measure you use to determine when spring starts and stops.

For those of us in Burlington spring has been toying with us – here for a bit then gone for a bit.
Earth Day has the sun shining and the promise of temperatures that will let one get to just a T-shirt. A day to do a check in on what we have done to this earth.

Plastic straw poterThe Earth Day Network organizers have chosen to focus on plastic – it is threatening our planet’s survival, from poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our streams and landfills.

This year, spring takes place between March 20 and June 21, if you use the astronomical method.
If you follow the meteorological calendar it runs from March 1 to May 31.

plastic - sea of

A sea of plastic – everything you see in this picture is plastic floating on the water.

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Museum awards a contract for the creation of the exhibit area of the transformed Joseph Brant Museum

News 100 redBy Staff

April 19th, 2018



Retainong wall for the wester side of the expanded museum

Transformation of the Joseph Brant Museum site.

While back hoes and cement truck work across the property transforming what was a single structure that we knew as the Joseph Brant Museum a company called Kubik is thinking through what there will be in the way of exhibits and interpretive features that will be installed in the large xxx foot space that will be underground.

Fort York

A view of the Fort Henry museum that Kubik did some work on.

Kubik has been awarded the contract to provide the interpretive design, fabrication and installation at Joseph Brant Museum. The company has done work on the Fort York Visitor Centre, Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Wild Weather (Science North), Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Canadian Museum of Nature – Canada Goose Arctic Gallery.

Edwardiam costumes - exhibit

An illustration of some of the dresses in the collection at the Brant Museum.

Kubik has presented a concept design that will feature central, charismatic, and dramatic exhibit hubs, timeline exhibits that will connect to central displays, over-sized interactives and immersive displays. The museum staff thinks they “ may even have a “fashion runway” in the costume gallery.

We can’t wait for that feature.

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Shuttleworth first Burlington resident to announce intention to seek a public school board trustee seat.

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 18th, 2018



Margo Shuttleworth, a candidate for the Ward 4 Halton District School Board trustee position in 2014 announced today that she will seek the seat currently held by Richelle Papin in the October municipal election.

Shuttleworth was a consistent observer of the HDSB Program Accommodation Review that resulted in the closure of two of Burlington’s seven high schools.


Margo Shuttleworth

She has been, actively involved in community engagement during her seven years as a Burlington resident: a member of the Burlington Charter Action Team, Healthy Kids Steering Committee member, Parental Involvement Committee member (PIC), Healthy and Safe Routes to School Co-ordinator, Parent Council Executive, Age-Friendly Community Chair Founding Board Member and Small Fry Skating Vice-President.

As a mother of children in the HDSB school system Shuttleworth describes herself as being committed to continuing to fight for the students of Ward 4.

You can reach Margo Shuttleworth at:
shuttleworth.m.a@gmail.com or call 289-838-4078

Related news story

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Critical Forum on the quality of Burlington's transit service to take place on Saturday at the Seniors' Centre

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 16th, 2018


Bfast, Burlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit, is holding their fourth annual Transit Forum this Saturday, April 21st from 10:00 am to 12:30 at the Seniors’ Centre on New Street.  Free continental breakfast for the early birds.

Bfast event AprilBurlington’s new transit director Sue Connor, a woman with a real transit pedigree will outline her plan of action for repairing and improving the system when she speaks at the Fourth Annual Transit Users’ Forum Apr. 21.

Following her report, she’ll be part of a panel that will answer questions from the audience and discuss the issues that transit users raise. Panel members will be Jim Young and Glenda Th

Sue Connor was appointed to the job less than a year ago, but has already taken decisive action to make the system safer and more reliable. She helped to secure more than $1 million in new funding from City Council to hire more drivers, supervisors and mechanics to make Burlington Transit legally compliant and more reliable.

While the extra stopgap funding is welcome, Burlington Transit needs a greater commitment from City Council and a strong, sustained funding base, said Doug Brown, chair of Burlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit (BFAST), one of more than a dozen community groups that support and sponsor the annual transit forum.

Connor Sue

Sue Connor, recently appointed Director of Burlington Transit.

“We’ve made progress over the past year and Sue Connor’s appointment is a sign of that,” Brown said. “But we need to do more in order to bring Burlington’s transit funding in line with the rest of the GTHA.”

Connor, Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, is well known for her success in transforming Brampton’s transit system, which has posted ridership gains in the double digits over the past few years. Burlington’s ridership showed double-digit declines over the same period due to the underfunding of transit services by Council.

Sue Connor, who is described as open, honest, frank with a real concern with solving riders’ problems, will speak to the riders of Burlington Transit,” Brown said.

This year’s Transit Users’ Forum will also feature the third transit users’ report card. Last year, more than 100 users rated the system and this year’s Forum participants will also determine Burlington Transit’s marks.

Community organizations participating in the Forum include:

• BFAST (Burlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit)
• Burlington Age-Friendly Council
• Halton Environmental Network
• Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee
• Engaged Citizens of Burlington
• Voices for Change Halton
• Community Development Halton
• Burlington Seniors Community Inc.
• Canadian Association of University Women, Burlington
• Burlington Green
• Poverty Free Halton
• North Burlington

The Forum is supported by the Burlington Gazette and Burlington Transit.

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Dance students will use spoken word poetry and reimagine the messages into dance movements.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 16th, 2018



April 26th, 270 Grade 6-8 students from the Halton District School Board will gather to perform and celebrate International Dance Day.

It is the 13th annual celebration and will be held at the New Street Education Centre (3250 New Street, Burlington), from 9 a.m.-2:15 p.m.

Different silhouettes of various dance poses

Different silhouettes of various dance poses

Students will use excerpts of spoken word poetry as source material and will reimagine the messages as movement to a shared piece of music.

The day will be divided into two sections. In the morning, students will participate in workshops led by professional dancers from across southern Ontario. Workshops include bhangra/bollywood, Caribbean jazz, contemporary, flamenco, hip-hop, musical theatre, tap and urban.

Dance hip hop

Hip hop dance

In the afternoon, Halton District School Board teachers will lead students in creative movement workshops based on the curriculum expectations and the creative process.

This year’s creative workshop theme is ‘resilience’. The students will meet at the end of the day to showcase their creations in an ensemble presentation.

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There are some school board trustees who are at risk in the October municipal. election

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2018



Of the eleven Halton District School Board trustees, four are elected by the public school supporters in Burlington.

Two of the four are at risk.

Trustees Andrea Grebenc and Leah Reynolds have said they were not prepared to make any comment on their election plans at this point in time.

The Gazette did not get a response from Papin.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Trustee Andrea Grebenc talking to Director of Education Stuart Miller.

Grebenc, who is now chair of the school board, is not likely to be forgiven by the Pearson high school crown for her vote to close the school. She is proving to be a chair with growth potential and a much needed different level of energy.

We will find out if she has the political smarts to come to terms with some very unhappy constituents once the campaign gets underway.  She does have her work cut out out for her

Richelle Papin

Trustee Papin

Richelle Papin has not managed to win the favour of the ward 4 school parents. The fit as a trustee just wasn’t all that good. She may choose not to run again.

Reynolds was seen as the heir apparent for the ward 2 city council seat when (not if – when) Councillor Meed Ward announces she is running for the office of Mayor. The Reynolds star has dimmed recently. If she chooses to run for the city council seat when it becomes available the people in the ward may choose to reward her for the work she did to keep Central high school off the closing list.

MMW + Leah Reynolds

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward with Leah Reynolds at Meed Ward’s 2014 election announcement meeting. Reynolds went on to ge elected the trustee for the ward.

She would be re-elected as a school board if that is where she chose to remain – which is probably in her best interests.

There is a much stronger woman that is likely to run for the city council seat – she hasn’t declared yet – and no we are not going to say who it is other than that she could serve the people of the ward and the city rather well

The one star trustee has been Amy Collard from ward 5 – she has been a bulldog in the way she has held the Director of Education accountable. She has been acclaimed each time she ran as a school board trustee.

Collard and Miller

Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard giving the Director of Education a very hard look during the debates on closing high schools in Burlington.

She has expressed some interest in city council – she would certainly give the incumbent Paul Sharman a run for his money.

There are a couple of trustees from the other municipalities in the District that could consider retirement.

All the action isn’t at city hall.

Salt with Pepper are the musings, opinions and reflections of the publisher of the Gazette

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Director tells trustees a non-decision on the location of a new administration building is not an option.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 6th, 2018



Halton District school board Director of Education Stuart Miller told board trustees Wednesday evening that he was pulling his report on a new administration building from the agenda.

He has moved to a plan B – and he isn’t at all certain what that plan will be.

Miller pulls the report Apr 4-2018

Director of Education Stuart Miller telling the Halton District trustees that he is pulling his administration building report from the agenda.

Miller has explained to the trustees he is accountable to the trustees and has a duty to advise them on what is needed to deliver the program to students. A new administration building is one of the things he needs and for the most part the 11 trustees agree with him. What they don’t seem to be able to agree on is where that building should be located.

Trustees Danielli, Amos, Harvey Hope and Collard were prepared to ask that debate on a new building be deferred until there was more information available.

Harvey Hope talked of the traffic challenges in getting to the Board offices in Burlington. Others pointed out that the bulk of the student population is no longer in Burlington; it is north east of the city. They seemed to feel that the administration offices should be closer to the bulk of the student population.

Miller doesn’t disagree with that position but points to the hard realities he has to deal with. The Board owns the land the current site is located on along with a large piece of land immediately south of the current structure and east of M.M. Robinson high school.

street view of the site

Intersection of Upper Middle Road and Guelph Line – a suggested location for a new administration building. Land is owned by the school board.

Buying land for a new building would be prohibitively expensive and the board doesn’t’ have anywhere near enough in its reserve funds to buy new land and construct a new building.

In his initial report to the trustees Miller pointed out to them that a report from a real estate company made it clear that there really wasn’t anything available in the way of the kind of land needed anywhere in the Region.

The trustees have told Miller to look harder.

It is hard to imagine a real estate company passing up a chance to find an appropriate piece of property and then negotiate the purchase of the land. If it was out there – would they not have found it?

Miller is up against a second reality. The building the Board administration is in now has to be made AODA compliant by 2025 – and that will be very expensive. Added to that – the cost of making the space on New Street AODA compliant adds to his woes.

Miller points out that this issue has been before the trustees since 2005. More than 13 years. He told the trustees on Wednesday that a “non-decision is not an option” and added that at some point the board has to make a decision.

Miller said that he would bring the report back sometime in 2019 – in January or February. Milton trustee Danielli noted that Miller might be dealing with a significantly different board after the October municipal election.

Perhaps those trustees who have been sitting on their hands since 2005 and done nothing about this problem will choose to end their careers as trustees or have the public bring those careers to an end.

One of the critical jobs these trustees have is to be financially prudent; there is enough money in the reserve fund to pay for the construction of a new administration building on and the board owns in Burlington.

Miller also added that it will take three to five years to get all the permissions and permits in place before construction could begin and that AODA date of 2025 is not that far off.

aerial of site

A new board administration building could be located at the north west intersection of Upper Middle and Guelph Line.

Miller has said that he will “explore some other geographical areas, and be back at the Board probably early in the New Year and they will have to decide if they want a new building or renovating this one.”

Miller also pointed out that the public needs to know what the board of education is up against.

Time for the trustees to get on with the job they were elected to do.


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District school board appoints new Superintendent of Facility Services - where will she build the needed administration building?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 6th, 2018



The Halton District School Board has appointed Maia Puccetti as Superintendent of Facility Services. She replaces Gerry Cullen who retired recently.

Maia Puccetti 2018 - photo

Maia Puccetti appointed Superintendent of Facility Services for the Halton District School Board

Puccetti is expected to start her new role this spring. As Superintendent of Facility Services, Puccetti will lead capital projects, facilities, maintenance, rentals, environmental and sustainability projects and plant operations.

Puccetti is currently the Superintendent of Facilities Services for the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), a role she has held since March 2011, where she is responsible for capital, school renewal, maintenance, operations and security, sustainability, energy management and accessibility. She is also the Acting Associate Director of the TCDSB. Previously, Puccetti held the role of Senior Coordinator of Renewal and Energy and Senior Manager of Renewal with the TCDSB.

Puccetti holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Environmental Design and a master’s degree in Architecture. She has served as the Capital Planner for Toronto Community Housing Corporation and as an Architect with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects.

Puccetti has some interesting challenges ahead of her: re-purposing what the Board does with Lester B. Pearson and Bateman high schools; making a new Bateman fit into Nelson high school and building a new Board administration office once the trustees decide where it should be located.

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Inspire awards handed out to staff who support students and their achievements from Milton, Oakville and Burlington

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 5th, 2018



Each month the Halton School Board Trustees recognize staff from the schools across the Region with an Inspire Award.

The Inspire Award is for people who go above and beyond to support students in the Halton District School Board.

Everyone in the Halton District School Board community can nominate or be nominated – families, neighbours, related organizations, staff, students and school volunteers.

The Inspire Award is given to an individual or group that is formally or informally associated with the Halton District School Board, who support our students and their achievements through exemplary caring, initiative, innovation and creativity.

Inspire Apr 4-2018

Inspire Award recipients: L -R Rachelle MacLeod, Jessica Goodwin, Jason Adams, Sarah Cronin. On the extreme left trustees Grebenc and Graves; on the right Director of Education Stuart Miller and trustee Danielli.

Sarah Cronin, Special Education at Milton District HS
Sarah is the Department Head of Special Education at Milton District HS. She demonstrates passion, commitment and a long-standing dedication to ensuring students have equitable learning opportunities. Through workshops and various assistive technologies, Sarah enables students’ self-discovery, perseverance and autonomy. She helps students build confidence and develop life skills to help them succeed in high school and beyond. Sarah promotes equitable learning by engaging students, encouraging self-advocacy for learning differences and by ensuring students can approach their learning in ways that make sense to them. Her ongoing support and advocacy for youths with special education needs inspires students and staff.

Jason Adams, teacher at Ryerson PS
Jason is a special education teacher to gifted students at Ryerson PS. He is a support to students with learning differences and assists them with social skills, attention and behaviour. Jason is committed to understanding individual student needs and learning differences to provide equitable and enhanced learning opportunities for students. He takes the time to go above and beyond to make students feel comfortable and supported and ensures parents are involved and updated with their children’s learning. His dedication has helped students with learning differences begin to love school.

Jessica Goodwin, volunteer at Lester B. Pearson HS
Jessica is a volunteer at Lester B. Pearson HS. She has put significant time and effort into working with a special needs student and has demonstrated unwavering support and patience. She has been flexible and understanding and has gone above and beyond to support the student’s success both in school and outside of school. Jessica’s commitment and dedication has provided consistency to a student with learning challenges.

Rachelle MacLeod, teacher at Irma Coulson PS
Rachelle is a teacher at Irma Coulson PS. Her leadership of the Breakfast Program at the school enables the program to run seamlessly for students and volunteers. Rachelle has put significant time and effort into ensuring all students at Irma Coulson have access to healthy food so they continue to learn, grow and succeed. Students, staff and volunteers are grateful for Rachelle’s continuous support.

The following Inspire Awards recipients will have their awards presented at a location of their choosing (school, workplace, etc.):

Sean Marks, principal at Glen Williams PS
When Sean became the Principal of Glen Williams Public School he quickly established a relationship with the students, parents and the community. His ability to connect with students allowed them to feel important, appreciated and successful. He creates an atmosphere in the school that enables children to succeed in their learning, parents to feel welcome and community members to feel valued. The lasting relationship he established with parents and community members strengthened the community and created an atmosphere where people feel welcome, valued and connected.

Cindy Jeffers, volunteer at Palermo PS
Cindy has been volunteering in the HDSB for more than 10 years. She has served as Secretary, Fundraiser, Treasurer, Co-Chair and Chair on Parent Council. She volunteers in the school library every week and helps with pizza days each Friday. Cindy is a constant and welcomed figure in the school. With her support, students experience many events throughout the year. Her continuous dedication to the school is appreciated by students and staff.

Torey Craig, teacher at Sir. E. MacMillan PS
Torey is a French Immersion teacher at Sir E. MacMillan Public School. She takes the time to provide each student with the encouragement and support they need to succeed. Her attention to detail and her commitment to making the curriculum engaging enables students to reach their potential and succeed. Torey’s commitment to supporting individual student needs and involving parents in their children’s learning builds student confidence and improves well-being.

Gloria Vivolo-Nerby, teacher at Gary Allan HS
Gloria is a teacher at Gary Allan HS who goes above and beyond to provide support to all students in the school. She provides ongoing and comprehensive academic and emotional support to all students. Gloria demonstrates professionalism and is an inspiration to her colleagues.

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