Trustee: Why did the Ministry insist on utilizing public meetings during the an accommodation review when emotions are potentially high.

opinionandcommentBy Tracy Ehl Harris

May 16th, 2018



In the spring of 2017, the Ministry of Education placed a moratorium on any new Pupil Accommodation Reviews in the province until such time as they could consult with stakeholders and update the existing Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline (PARG, released March 2015).

After two rounds of consultation in the fall of 2017 and winter of 2018, the Ministry released the updated PARG in April 2018. Boards must now develop/revise their own Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) policies to be in conformance with the new PARG. At the heart of the policy, is serving students in the best and most effective way possible.

Boards undertake annual pupil accommodation planning processes (in the HDSB this is called the Long Term Accommodation Process, LTAP, and it is available each spring) that identify growth, decline and status quo scenarios for each school, area, and the district as a whole. Through the LTAP, each year existing and foreseeable pupil accommodation issues are highlighted, and community consultation is undertaken. Potential Pupil Accommodation Reviews (PARs) are also identified. These reviews must follow the PARG established by the Ministry, and the Board’s own PAR policy.

HDSB Trustees provided comments to the Ministry during the consultation timelines noted above for the new PARG. I want to highlight three concerns related to the new PARG:

1) A PAR is initiated by the submission by staff and approval by the Board of Trustees of an initial staff report identifying the accommodation challenge to be addressed and the scope of the review, among other things. In the 2015 version of the PARG, the initial staff report to the Board of Trustees was to contain a recommended scenario (that is a preference for solving the identified accommodation challenge). In the 2018 PARG update, this changed. The initial staff report is now to contain a recommended scenario and at least two alternative scenarios.

PARC with options on the walls

Members of a Halton District School Board PARC meeting.

This new approach likely does not solve the issue associated with publishing a preferred option (and alternatives) at the start of a PAR process. Boards ask communities to provide their best wisdom and guidance on how to solve a specific accommodation problem. It is very difficult to engage in a problem-solving exercise when it appears that there is already a predisposition for a preferred solution(s). Some school communities may feel attacked, while others may feel that the issue doesn’t involve them.

Processes start in a trust deficit and it is very hard to recover. Why aren’t Boards given the choice about whether a preferred scenario and alternatives are appropriate for their context? Ideally, proponents would be encouraged to start a PAR process just where the LTAP leaves off, with a report about a specific accommodation challenge and the related implications and then move to consider possible viable solutions in a consultative manner.

2) “School boards are required to consult with local communities prior to adopting or subsequently amending their pupil accommodation review policies.” (Section IV of the new PARG) One critical factor in engaging communities is that there is the opportunity to build and/or sustain a trust relationship. This can be fostered by appropriate consultation and communication. In section IV, the broad term “consult” is utilized, appropriately giving boards the latitude to utilize consultation methods that best suit the community audience and can garner meaningful input that supports trust building and good, local decision making. In Section X it is stated that ”the school board must arrange to hold a minimum of three public meetings for broader community consultation on the initial staff report.” It also states that “in addition to the required public meetings, school boards may use other methods to solicit community feedback.”

Why, during an accommodation review when emotions are potentially high given that specific scenarios are being considered, does the Ministry insist on utilizing “public meetings.” This is but one method, and it may or may not be the most appropriate one.

This is a dated and limited construct of what consultation can and should be. The International Association for Public Participation states, “public meetings are often selected when another approach might work better.” Further, they say, “public meetings can escalate out of control if emotions are high.” Predictably, this is what happens when people are discussing education in general, and specifically as it relates to one’s children and the schools they attend.

HDSB Parents at PARC 1 Jan 26-17

Parents at a public PAR meeting.

This narrow construct (i.e public meetings) can be a hindrance to meaningful consultation and the eventual outcomes. Again, why can’t boards choose the type of consultation that is most appropriate for their context and the needs of the communities they serve?

3) There appears to be a lack of clarity and consistency regarding roles of various parties throughout the PARG. For example, Section XI, states “School boards will determine how best to involve secondary school students in the pupil accommodation review process”.

This section and others seem to be silent in terms of engaging staff. Section XII which speaks to transition planning does not mention students but does mention parents/guardians and staff. These inconsistencies could be cleared up by identifying all stakeholders prior to the beginning of the process and identifying how they will be engaged in meaningful ways.

Further, there is lack of clarity around membership and functioning of the PAR Committee members. For example, Ministry expectations are unclear about what is meant when a Trustee is an ad hoc member of this committee.

Here is a summary of next steps provided by the Ministry.

“To ensure consistency in pupil accommodation reviews across school boards, the Ministry of Education will work with education and municipal stakeholders and partner ministries over the coming months to develop supports such as templates to assist boards. This includes templates for the initial staff report and the economic impact assessment.

The ministry will aim to release these supports by fall 2018. While these supports are being developed, there will continue to be no new pupil accommodation reviews, unless they are required to support a joint-use school initiative between two coterminous school boards

PAR processes can be difficult under the best of conditions. Perhaps these supports/templates will assist Boards in supporting students in effective and efficient ways. The PARG states that “School boards are responsible for managing their school capital assets in an effective manner. They must respond to changing demographics and program needs while being cognizant of the impacts of their decisions on student programming and well-being, school board resources and the local community.” Boards should have the right balance of prescription from the Ministry and latitude to run strong context specific processes, AND students should be the focus and at the heart of everything.

The source document is:

Tracey-Ehl-2-x150Tracy Ehl Harris is a Halton District School Board trustee for Oakville and is the current vice-chair of the Board. Tracey is a registered professional planner, certified master public participation practitioner and certified professional facilitator.

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MacRae: “I do what I do because of the students - the ongoing question for me is - Is this good for the students?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 16th, 2018



When the Gazette covered the Halton Music showcase with over 600 students and their instruments in almost every nook and cranny at the Seniors’ Centre then reviewed the very large display of student art at Gary Alan high school and then learned of a dance competition, we found ourselves asking – Who organizes all these events and what part do the arts play in the education children are getting.

Turns out that Rebecca MacRae, lead arts coordinator with the Halton District School Board keeps all the parts moving.

Getting the instrument ready

Getting it just right – the first time.

The Board has over 200 music teachers at the elementary and secondary levels.

Dancer in wire

This is the work of an elementary school student.

MacRae wasn’t able to tell us how any students she interacts with on a weekly basis but did say later that “It’s more than I realized.” Her student contact is spent observing their workshops, and helping with the logistics of large events and rehearsals.

Rebecca MacRae

Rebecca MacRae

MacRae is in place to oversee the arts offerings in the schools, a job she has been doing since September. She has been with the Board of Education for 18 years always in music and drama. She studied at McMaster University, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and Mohawk College.

Sculpture - curvy

From the hands of an elementary student.

The world of music for MacRae began when she saw a piano with her grandmother and knew then that she “wanted to play one of those.”

Jazz and classical are her preferences; she has written some music but is reluctant to call herself a composer

Her job is that of an administrator where time management is her biggest challenge. “I do what I do because of the students and the ongoing question for me is ‘Is this good for the students’”. And to reports to Superintendent Julie Hunt Gibbons .

Girl with trombone

Listening attentively.

A large part of the job is ensuring that there’s a real world connection to what is being taught in the classroom where the students learn from each other.

Circuit city

An artistic interpretation of a circuit board.

Students get to see that music, art, drama and dance are crafts and one of the ways they can earn their livings
Asked what difference she is going to make she says it is important for her to understand what’s going on and realizing that there’s not just one way to do things.

“I am in place to build relationships and to do right by the students”, said MacRae. “These students are the future leaders.”

When MacRae gets going she will tell you that “A complete education includes the arts where students get to understand their own personalities and get to do drama, dance and music with other students. There is a level of creativity that isn’t as evident in some other subjects. Students get to explore, use their imaginations and develop ideas. The arts bring emotions to the surface giving students a chance to reflect on their feelings and experience the joy of producing something that gets shared with others. We want children to feel what they are doing.”

Music for MacRae is personal. She doesn’t play professionally – and wishes there was more time to play at home.

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Ireland House - one of the best museums in the Region - admission free on Friday.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

May 15th, 2018



Ireland House freeFriday is International Museum Day.

Ireland House is going to be admission FREE for the day from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

It is a superb little museum with excellent programs. If you’re looking for something to take the kids to – this is well worth the time.

The gift store focuses on all things local from small batch honey to custom tea blends and kettle cooked popcorn.

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A transformed Brant Museum is taking shape.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 10th, 2018



Brant museum - May 2018 pouring concrete

Concrete being poured for supporting columns

They pour more concrete each day.

The western wall of the Brant Museum site that is being transformed is in place.

Much of the northern wall is in place.

The house sits in steel beams on the northern side – it gets moved around as construction and concrete pours are done elsewhere on the site.

Brant western wall

Much of the western wall is now in place.

Completion date: 2019 – exactly when – depends on the weather.

What will there be in the way of program once the site is completed? No word yet – the Museum staff are being tight lipped about what the opening offer is going to be.

The city has hired an international exhibition design firm to create what the public will see. Kubik, a multi-national corporation has been awarded the contract to provide the interpretive design, fabrication and installation at Joseph Brant Museum.


Architectural rendering of what the Brant Museum is to be transformed into.

A local firm took part in the competition – they weren’t impressed with the process. They had to chase the museum people to learn who the contract had been awarded to.

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How do I become... The Centre for Skills Development and Training holding information sessions

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

May 10th, 2018



The Centre for Skills Development and Training is in the business of training people for good jobs and then helping them get those good jobs.

They are holding information session during the month for people who are interested in becoming a Machinist & Millwright, Home Renovation General Contractor or Electricians

Centre How do I graphic

The information sessions take place at their North Service Road location: 3335 North Service Road, Unit 102B. The location isn’t all that well marked – and the classes are at the back – up the driveway.

These are interactive events, no cost; a chance to meet and talk with employers, trades people, job developers and graduates.

How to start a skilled trade’s career: The current job market and labour demands for trades.

How the Centre can prepare you for an apprenticeship including an introduction to employers in the various trades

What trades companies are looking for when hiring

Training and funding incentives to help you start a skilled trades career.

The accelerated per-apprenticeship training can have you job ready in 22 weeks,.

The Centre supports diversity in the skilled trades and encourages anyone interested to attend. They have strategies for men, women, youth and newcomers to Canada.

May 14, 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Register HERE


Home Renovation General Contractor
May 22, 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Register HERE


Machinist & Millwright
May 28, 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Register HERE

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Two teachers from the Halton District School Board awarded prestigious Teaching Excellence certificates.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

May 9th, 2018



Two teachers from the Halton District School Board have been awarded prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and Teaching Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM).

Charlotte Travis, a teacher at Bruce T. Lindley Public School, received a Certificate of Achievement in Teaching Excellence and Shaun Else, a teacher with John William Boich Public School, received a Certificate of Achievement in STEM.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence honour outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines for their remarkable educational achievements and for their commitment to preparing students for a digital and innovation-based economy. New this year, awards also recognized inspirational Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics teachers at the elementary or secondary school level who engage students with STEM learning and who help develop a culture of innovation in Canada.

According to the Prime Minister’s awards website: “Wholeheartedly believing in supporting students as they explore outside in the natural world, Charlotte (Travis) roots her practice in inquiry-based learning. She fosters students’ thinking and problem-solving skills while developing their curiosity and imagination.”

Travis says she is very touched and humbled to have been nominated for such a prestigious teaching award.

Charlotte Travis-wide shot

Charlotte Travis, a teacher at Bruce T. Lindley Public School

“I was astonished that so many people had worked together so seamlessly to apply for this award on my behalf,” she says. “When I was notified that I had received a Certificate of Achievement, I was honoured and extremely grateful. It gave me pause to reflect upon the efforts and generosity of so many outstanding individuals who have shared in, and shaped, my journey as an educator.”

To describe Shaun Else’s teaching style, the Prime Minister’s awards website refers to his classroom “‘Elsewhere’ as a place where he engages his students through technology, inquiry, problem solving and hands-on experiential learning, modelling lifelong learning and harnessing STEM activities so all can succeed.”

Else says receiving the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM is a “huge honour” but is more of a reflection of the talented staff he works with every day.

Shaun Else-wide shot

Shaun Else, a teacher with John William Boich Public School

“This award represents the influence and guidance of the Halton District School Board, principals and staff I have worked with since I began my career almost two decades ago,” he says. “I’m lucky to work in a school board that has always supported and encouraged my interests, providing opportunities to explore topics from robotics and coding to assistive technology and 3D printing. Above all, I’m thankful to be surrounded by passionate teachers who challenge themselves and their students by providing authentic and engaging lessons every day.”

Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board, says the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence is a testament to the hard work and innovation of Charlotte Travis and Shaun Else.

“To have our educators honoured with the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence for their inspiring accomplishments makes all of us proud,” Miller says. “We know we have dedicated, hard-working and collaborative staff members in the Halton District School Board, and Charlotte and Shaun are great examples of these traits that truly define our educators. We know our students can succeed through the creativity and passionate work of our teachers. We congratulate Charlotte and Shaun on their well-deserved awards.”

The schools where Travis and Else teach – Bruce T. Lindley PS and John William Boich PS respectively – will also receive a certificate signed by the Prime Minister to recognize their support of the recipient’s achievement.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines since 1993, with more than 1,500 teachers honoured to date.

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Burlington snatches its new CEO for the library system from Hamilton.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 8th, 2018



Burlington Public Library Board Chair, Brian Kenny, announced today that Lita Barrie has been appointed to position of Chief Executive Officer, effective June 4, 2018.

Lita LBarrie-CEO

Lita Barrie, new CEO for the Burlington Library

Ms Barrie has progressively advanced in senior positions since starting her professional librarian career as a bilingual inquiries officer with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and serving as a youth services librarian at Hamilton Public Library. She became the manager of children’s services at Brantford Public Library in 2007, and the chief librarian and chief executive officer of Grimsby Public Library in 2010.

Since joining Hamilton Public Library as a director in 2013, she has been responsible for the library’s digital technology, youth services, collections, and program development.

“Lita brings to Burlington a strong background in arts and cultural leadership, customer service excellence, and innovation in libraries,” says Kenny. “We are excited by her aspirations for the public library in our community and delighted that she accepted our offer to lead Burlington Public Library.”

“Burlington Public Library’s reputation for excellence and engagement is broadly known,” says Lita Barrie, in-coming chief executive officer. “I am so thrilled to continue the Library’s commitment to innovation and to providing stellar library services and programs to serve this wonderful city.”

Ms Barrie holds a Master of Library & Information Studies from McGill University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Art History) from Concordia University, and certificates in leadership from McMaster University, University of Toronto, and University of Victoria.

Lita Barrie at arts event in Hamilton

Lita Barrie at arts event in Hamilton

She is active in the library profession as a frequent presenter at conferences and as a sessional lecturer at University of Toronto, Faculty of Information, where she also co-founded the Public Library Leaders Program offered through the iSchool Institute. She has also served in many senior volunteer roles with the Ontario Library Association.

Ms Barrie is a keen community volunteer and is currently vice chair of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee and president of the Hamilton Arts Council Board.

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Food for Thought raises $67,000 at their celebration event.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

May 8th, 2018



They hosted their 9th Annual Spring Breakfast Gala, in support of Halton Food for Thought Student Nutrition Programs – it took place on Friday May 4th at the Oakville Conference Centre.

Halton Food for Thought dollars raised in 2018

Halton Food for Thought dollars raised in 2018

Breakfast was done as  marketplace highlighting the importance of a nutritious meal at the start of a day for students.

Where did the $67,000 come from?

CIBC Wood Gundy $10,000
Prime Contact Group $5,000
EarthFresh Farms $5,000
L3 WESCAM $2,500
Global Citrus Group Inc. $2,500
Fidelity Investments $2,500
Cogeco $1,000 (plus $4,500 in-kind)
TerraPure Environmental $1,000
Mercedes-Benz Oakville $1,000
Boehringer Ingelheim Canada $1,000
Sylvite $1,000


Cropped Abbey Lane

Abbey Lane welcoming the guests.

Add to that the 500 tickets they sold to the event, a silent auction and a raffle. They covered every fund raising base there is.

73% of Halton students have access to a Student Nutrition Program; It costs just $1 to feed 2 students breakfast each day.

3.4 million meals were served to 27,700 meals in the 2016-17 school year.

2100 volunteers including  930 students get the job done.

Politicians were popping out of every corner. You wouldn’t be wrong if you arrived at the conclusion that there are elections taking place.

The Halton Food for Thought program is made up of representatives from 14 Lead Agencies who administer provincial grant funds. These funds help to develop and implement healthy breakfasts, snack and at times, lunch programs across the province.

The 14 Lead Agencies in turn, represent regions in the province and work with over 39 Community Partnerships across the province. These community partnerships engage school boards, public health units, communities and parents to support school programs at the local level.

As part of Central West Region (CWR), Halton Food for Thought’s Lead Agency is Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA. The other members making up CWR are Peel, Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin and Guelph.

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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 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

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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