Georgetown resident was the one millionth 2017 visitor to a Conservation Halton location.

News 100 greenBy Staff

December 23rd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It’s a day Jamie Leslie isn’t likely to forget.

She was at Kelso/Glen Eden with her Dad, Dave day on Friday when she was declared the one millionth visitor in 2017 to a Conservation Halton location.

The visits number includes those who have enjoyed recreational programs and services at Crawford Lake, Hilton Falls, Kelso / Glen Eden, Mount Nemo, Mountsberg, Rattlesnake Point and Robert Edmondson.

The Conservation people have been working towards that millionth visitor number for some time. Chief Administrative Officer Hassaan Basit and Director of Parks and Recreation Gene Matthews made the target number a must for the year.

Jayme Leslie millionth visit Cons Halton

Georgetown resident Jayme Leslie was the one millionth visit to a Conservation Halton location.

Jayme, a Georgetown resident, received a gift package which will give her and her family the opportunity to keep enjoying our parks in 2018 and beyond. The package included a Glen Eden Season pass for 2018-19, a Halton Parks Membership for one year, merchandise and maple syrup from Mountsberg.

Basit, who is intense, but not the kind of guy that goes over the top with his comments. On this occasion however he got excited and said: “As we approach the end of the year it is fantastic to be able to celebrate a milestone like one million visits and we would like to thank everyone who came to enjoy our beautiful conservation areas.”

Visitation at Conservation Halton’s conservation areas has grown steadily over the past few years. In 2013, visits went over the 800,000 level, and last year almost reached 1,000,000. During that time period, the number of visits to Hilton Falls, Mount Nemo and Rattlesnake Point has more than doubled as people are enjoying the scenic views from those parks which are each along the iconic Niagara Escarpment and other activities like hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing.

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City of Burlington asking for feedback on playground structures.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 22nd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Not the best time of year to ask people to find a couple of minutes to respond to a city survey. Things are so busy that the supermarket in my part of town is going to be open until 11 pm tonight.

Nonetheless – know this: The City will be replacing 14 playgrounds over the next two years and is encouraging families who use the specific parks to complete a survey to say which kinds of playground features would be most wanted.

Beginning Dec. 28, 2017, city staff will be at nearby recreation centres asking for input.

The online survey is HERE and will be available until January, 31, 2018.

Park survey

Location of the 14 parks that will be upgraded in 2018

Playgrounds to be replaced in the next two years are:

1. Brada Woods Park, 5196 Brada Cr.
2. Breckon Park, 4471 Spruce Ave.
3. Brittany Park, 1370 Headon Rd.
4. Champlain Park, 2101 Mountain Grove Ave.
5. Cumberland Park, 562 Cumberland Ave.
6. DesJardines Park, 1811 Imperial Way
7. LaSalle Park, 50 North Shore Blvd.
8. Maple Community Park, 750 Maple Ave.
9. Maplehurst Public School, 481 Plains Rd. E.
10. Optimist Park, 2131 Prospect St.
11. Sheraton Park, 594 Sheraton Rd.
12. Spencer Smith Park, 1400 Lakeshore Rd.
13. Sycamore Park, 3157 Centennial Dr.
14. Tansley Woods Park, 4100 Kilmer Dr.

Chris Glenn, director of Parks and Recreation explains that: “The survey results will be used to create plans for the parks that will be specific to that park. Talk to your kids about what kinds of play structures they like. Ask them if they prefer straight or curving slides, monkey bars, poles, swings and other fun, interactive equipment.”

The survey questionnaire runs 17 pages – we will run it again in the New Year when you have more time for this kind of thing.

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Which path for the high school set? Planning information evening January 28th at MMR.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 22nd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is hosting several Pathways Planning Information Evenings in January 2018 that will allow parents and Grades 7-12 students to explore program opportunities high schools offer in Halton.

Student on floor Mar 7-17

Today’s student.

The Board offers more than 80 programs designed to meet individual needs and help students succeed after high school, whether they are pursuing a pathway toward apprenticeship, college, community, university or the workplace.

Information nights help students to be better prepared for a rapidly changing world while receiving a relevant and engaging education.

All are welcome to attend and registration is not required. The meetings will be held at the following locations from 6-8 p.m.:

• Thursday, January 11, 2018: Georgetown District High School, 70 Guelph Street, Georgetown

• Tuesday, January 16, 2018: White Oaks Secondary School, North Campus, 1055 McCraney Street East, Oakville

• Thursday, January 18, 2018: Craig Kielburger Secondary School, 1151 Ferguson Drive, Milton

Tuesday, January 23, 2018: M.M. Robinson High School, 2425 Upper Middle Road, Burlington

These programs include the Specialist High Skills Major programs, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programs, Specialty School to Career programs, the Employability Skills Certificate program, Dual Credit college programs, Grade 8-9 Transition programs, and more.

Agenda for each night:

6-6:30 p.m. – Pathways displays staff by Pathways Program teachers
6:30-7:15 p.m. – Pathways presentation (Programs and planning for post-secondary)
7:15-8 p.m. – Teacher displays and elementary transition to high school workshop

To learn more, visit www.haltonpathways.ca.

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Breakfast at Tom Thomson - same thing happens at most schools - Food for Thought feeds 26,000 across the Region every week.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At the end of the week thousands of students will be out of school and home for the holidays – returning to their classes on January 8th.

Another calendar year behind them and time to think about, talk about and plan for the balance of the school year.

Gym full of kids

The Gazette visit to Tom Thomson took place when there was a Region wide event that was piped into every school. All the students gathered in the gym for the event.

 

It may well be a year during which the Board of Education closes a school – that decision will become crystal clear in 2018. Lester B. Pearson high school parents are still going door to door drumming up support for a community initiative to somehow keep that school open.

Households with children in school have an attachment to the school there children go to that starts early in the morning and runs through to well into the late afternoon.

Fresh Fruit and veggies

The food is fresh and there is plenty of it.

At Tom Thomson elementary school the program for students begin at breakfast where there are two programs for students; one run by the YMCA that involves caring for the students and the other a walk in for any student that wants to meet with friends and didn’t catch breakfast at home.

The program is put on by a volunteer group of parents. Some of the students come from households where the family income doesn’t quite cover all the costs – others are students who want to meet with their chums and do what elementary students do these day.

A Regional Police liaison officer spends time at both Tom Thomson and Brant Hills – alternating between the two; parents from the community work as volunteers getting the food ready and serving the students.

Thurman - dling out fresh fruit

Dania Thurman serving fresh fruit to a student at Tom Thomson elementary school.

Dania Thurman, a parent very active in the campaign to keep Central high school open, is one of the parents that shows up a couple of days a week and spends some time with the 60+ students who show up before she has to scoot off to her full time job.

Kids in corner - eating breakfast

They gather in corners and sit wherever they can – having breakfast and getting caught up with friends.

The students troop into the gym, dropping their knapsacks on the floor and heading for the group of friends they meet up with – cell phones in hand.

The program takes place every day of the week – they have been doing this at Tom Thomson for the past six years.

They feed between 60 to 70 students with the grub coming from Food for Thought a Region wide program that works with elementary and high schools to ensure that every student has access to a proper breakfast.

The Food for Thought history isn’t uncommon; a grassroots group of people who identify a problem and come together to form a solution.  In this case, one of the strongest groups you can have behind your cause are the parents that get the job done.

These Parents noticed that not every child at school had food in their lunch box or that many kids had food that didn’t contain enough nutrients to fuel their minds and bodies for learning.

In 1997, the parents came together and formed an advisory committee to oversee the first 6 official Student Nutrition Programs in Halton.  Fast forward to 2007, just ten years later, and HFFT became an incorporated, registered, charity with its own Board of Directors and 63 programs.

As of September 2017, HFFT has partner programs in 130 schools across Halton and feeds more than 27,000 students a week.  We have over 2,100 volunteers (including 930 students) and dozens of community partners who all work together to feed students in their communities.

Boys playing

The students that show up get more than half an hour to play in the school gymnasium. These two are waiting for a game to get started.

Girls playing

Some skip, others play a team sport.

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Brant Hills and Frontenac public schools to get additional child care spaces.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Two Burlington schools will have additional space used as new child care rooms.

Brant Hills public schools

Brant Hills – will have 48 new childcare spaces.

Brant Hills Public School, will have two new pre-school rooms, allowing for 48 new childcare spaces.

Frontenac Public School, who will benefit from one new toddler room and one new pre-school room, allowing for 39 new childcare spaces.

The additions to the two schools are part of a program that results in 45,000 new licensed child care spaces in schools, communities and other public spaces across the province.

The province is investing $1,799,888 in Burlington for these new child care projects that will benefit local families.

The media release from the office of Minister McMahon was sent at 5:33 pm – too late in the day for any follow up.

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Bateman high school parents will have their 1000 signature petition read in the Legislature today.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 11th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Whitby-Oshawa MPP Lorne Coe (PC) will read a petition signed by more than 1000 Burlington community members into the record of the Ontario Legislature calling for the Liberal government to reverse the closure decisions for all schools where those decisions were made after September 1, 2016.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Bateman parents and students make their views known.

In a media release a Bateman high school parent group said: “In June of this year, Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter announced a province-wide Moratorium on school closures, stating that the Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) process used to close schools was flawed and should be overhauled.

“Following this PAR process, the Halton District School Board voted to close Burlington’s Robert Bateman and Lester B. Pearson High Schools (June 7th) just 22 days before Hunter’s announcement. Parents from both schools have argued that a decision made under this flawed process must be overturned.

“Save Bateman Committee member Jennifer Beleck spearheaded the collection of petition signatures as part of a provincial movement led by the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures.

Bateman - crowd scene

Showing the school colours as part of a protest against the Board of Education to close a high school that meets the needs of disadvantaged students.

Beleck says that in the conversations that she has had with parents, retirees, business owners and others from across Burlington while gathering the names, the overall response has been one of frustration. “Everyone I spoke with said how angry they are with the large number of schools which have been slated for closure under the Liberal government” said Beleck. Records suggest that over 500 schools have been closed under the Liberals prior to them announcing the moratorium.

A similar petition from the group working to stop the closure of Burlington’s Lester B. Pearson High School was read at Queen’s Park on October 25, 2017.

With the over 1000 signatures, the Save Bateman petition is one of the largest to be read on school closures to date.

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High school parent group sends a Christmas wish list

News 100 redBy Staff

December 10th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If you were a child sitting on the curb along Guelph Line or New Street when Santa visited you could have had you letter to Santa Claus listing the gifts you wanted. Canada Post employees were collecting the letters – that has to ensure delivery.

The parents at Lester B. Pearson and Robert Bateman high schools have asked the Gazette if we would deliver their Christmas wish to Margaret Wilson, the facilitator who was brought in by the Minister of Education to determine if the Board of Education followed the PAR process properly.

There were a number of parents at both schools who think the Board sort of blew it and they want to let Mrs. Wilson know what they are looking for either in their stocking or under their tree.

LBP Santa plea

Margaret Wilson is in the process of writing her report on whether or not the Halton District School Board followed the PAR process properly. Some parents are hoping Santa might influence her thinking.

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1,100 educational assistants are in place to support the work teachers do - for many students the EA's are pivotal to a quality education.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 10th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On Monday classrooms through Halton will celebrate and acknowledge the role educational assistants have on student success and well-being.

educational assistant

Teachers will teach and explain a subject – the educational assistant is on hand to help students practice what they have learned.

The Halton District School Board employs more than 1,100 permanent and supply educational assistants. Guided by the values set out in the Board’s Multi-Year Plan 2016-2020, educational assistants support students with evidence-based instructional strategies, resources and interventions differentiated to each individual student’s strengths and needs.

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller explained that the “role of educational assistants is pivotal to the success of many of our students and we are grateful for their continuous support to our students, staff, parents and the system at large.”

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A celebration of food - made by the kids - shared with their parents.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

December 8th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Terra Madre Day is Slow Food’s annual day to promote the diversity of food traditions!

Children age 7-10 are invited to join us for this free workshop to work on a United Nations Nutrition Badge.

UN badgeLearn about food safety, food planning, seasonal fruits and veggies. International students will share traditional vegetable dishes from their countries. Families are invited to join at the end of the workshop to celebrate their child’s success and try some of the international dishes.

For ages 7-10 years
Student Theatre Centre, 2131 Prospect Street
Sunday Dec 10, 1-4pm

Register for free

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Public school board replaces both its Chair and vice chair - Grebenc and Ehl Harris to lead in what will be a difficult year.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 6th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

The old order changeth – a new Chair and vice chair of the Halton District School Board were elected this evening.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Chair Andrea Grebenc talking over a concern with Director of Education Stuart Miller during a board meeting.

Andrea Grebenc, a Burlington trustees replaces Kelly Amos who has served the board for … and Tracey Ehl Harrison, an Oakville trustee, replaces Kim Graves, a Milton trustee as the vice chair.

Tracey Ehl Harrison

Vice chair Tracey Ehl Harrison, an Oakville trustee.

Ehl Harrison is a registered professional planner, a certified professional facilitator and a PhD candidate whose career has focused on environmental planning and education, communication and community engagement.

Grebenc is a lecturer and instructor at McMaster University, and an e-learning consultant and programmer.

She is a graduate of Lester B. Pearson high school which she voted to close in June of 2018.

Amos has served as a trustee for more than ten years

The all female Board of Education has gone through a very tough year. On a number of occasions it was evident that Chair Amos was having difficulty with the agenda.

The Board decision to accept the staff recommendation to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools was taken to the Ministry where a request was made for an Administrative Review of the process used by the Board.

The Administrative Review facilitator, Margaret Wilson is expected to have her report in the hands of the Ministry before the end of the year.

The Ministry will release the report at a later date.

The Ministry can direct the Board of Education to hold a second PAR – Program Administrative Review which would mean creating another PARC – Program Accommodation Review Committee. A PARC is made up of two parent representatives from each high school – one selected by the school board the other by the Parent Council of the school.

The Central high school parent council decision to have ward 2 city city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward represent the parents was a controversial choice. One wonders if the parents would make that choice again.

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Two groups of high school parents await the recommendation of the report Margaret Wilson is writing.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

In an earlier version of this story, we incorrectly said that Tom Muir had aligned himself with the Bateman parents.  He was very sympathetic with the Bateman situation but worked with the Pearson parents

Margaret Wilson, the Reviewer brought in by the Ministry of Education to do formal review the Halton District School Board (HDSB) decision to close two of the city’s seven high schools has said she expects to have her report in the hands of the Ministry well before Christmas.

She is perhaps on her second draft of the document.

Margaret Wilson PAR Admin Review

Margaret Wilson

Being the professional she is Mrs. Wilson did not tip her hand during her conversations with media.

She is reported to have said to one of the participants during the second evening of public delegations that she “would recommend a second PAR (Program Accommodation Review)  if she had very good reasons.”

The HDSB PAR review will be the 13th that Wilson has done – she is an experienced hand at this game. Wilson noted that the only time she recommended that a PAR be done a second time was when she did one at the HDSB – and at that time she recommended to the Ministry that a second PAR was advisable.

Many of the Pearson and Bateman parents are hoping that she does the same thing again.

All Wilson can do is make a recommendation. It is the Minister of Education who can order the Director of Education to hold a PAR. It is not clear if the school board trustees can choose not to proceed.

Voting by hand

Halton Board of Education voting to close two of the city’s sven high schools.

The trustees voted on June 7th to close the schools. Parents from both Bateman high school and Pearson high school appealed to the Ministry of Education for a review of the process the HDSB went through in making that decision.

The Board held a PAR – a Program Accommodation Review and created a PAR committee consisting of two parents from every high school in the city. That committee was scheduled to meet on five occasions – and met on seven occasions when the Director of Education felt the additional time the PARC people wanted was justified.

The PARC was never able to arrive at a consensus. The structure of the PAR was such that the two high schools had to fight within the PARC to keep their school open.

Hard working people PARC

PARC members placing small paper dots beside their preferences when the committee was eliminating some of the options.

Central high school was exceptionally well organized – they held a fund raising event that put $14,000 into their war chest and then did a tremendous amount of research that pointed to some serious flaws in the board of education staff position.

What turned the tide for Central was their research that showed it was going to cost $400,000 a year basically forever to bus students from the Central community to other high schools in the city. Somehow the Board of Education staff failed to figure that out on their own.

With that information in had the Director of Education revised his recommendation to have Bateman closed instead of Central high school. That put the fat in the fire and had the Bateman parents howling – claiming that the Central parents had thrown them under the bus.

Protesters PARC

Central high school parents demonstrating outside the school board administrative offices.

The result was that parents were now fighting to save their school – rather than looking at the serious flaws in the process and convincing the Board to take an approach where everyone could work together to find a solution that worked for everyone.

The Bateman parents were asleep at the switch. They should have seen that their school was at risk but they did nothing in the way of organizing until they had to and by then it was too late.

The Bateman community that is leading the Administrative Review request has difficulty sharing information. There were reported differences of opinion within the group and they were not able to work with the Pearson parents on a combined approach.

Denise Davy - automotive guy

Denise Davy, c0-chair of the Bateman high school parent group,standing talks to the representative from the auto body industry at an Administrative Review meeting

Bateman had a great story to tell – few people in the city knew of how strong a program there was at that high school for students who faced personal challenges coping with traditional school programs.

It didn’t help that few of the trustees visited all the high schools to see first-hand what was being done at Bateman.

What was, by contrast, really interesting was that Wilson visited every high school and made a point of visiting the two model shops that were operational at Bateman.

The most significant flaw in the PAR process was the way the Board trustees handled their vote. On June 7th – their meeting went until well past mid-night while they heard the last of the delegations.

The PAR rules call for a period of ten days between the last of the delegations and the vote. That didn’t happen.

To make the situation just that much worse – the province, realizing that the PAR process was a mess, ordered a moratorium on all PARS on June 28th. Using the 10 day rule the Halton situation would not have been saved even if the Board had followed their own rules. There for the sake of 11 days went two high schools.

pearson-nursery-playgropund-full

Will the nursery at Pearson high school be lost to the community when the high school closes?

Pearson, a smaller high school that had been stripped of most of the elementary feeder schools was basically starved to death by board boundary reviews.

They needed more time to get themselves organized but never did have the mass that Bateman and Central were able to pull together.

Their argument was that there is a place for a smaller high school in Burlington and that they needed the feeder schools put back in place.

The Director of Education is of the view that a high school enrollment should bet at the 1000 + level.

A piece of corollary damage is the impact on the exceptional nursery that has been run at the school since it opened.

Should Mrs. Wilson decide not to recommend a second PAR be held the city will have to adjust to that reality?

Part of the solution is to elect better trustees and get a Chair in place who understands what the job is and then how to do it.

Burlington has also to come to terms with the fact that it has just 4 of the 11 votes – its trustees need to reach out and develop coalitions with the trustees from Milton, Oakville and Halton Hills.

The decision to close the Robert Bateman high school was more a blow to those parents who had their children in special needs classes.

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir – an inveterate delegator.

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident who doesn’t have children aligned himself with the Pearson contingent and worked with them as they prepared their request for an Administrative Review.

Muir is of the view that “closing Bateman is a disaster for these needy kids and their parents. It will be life-altering. It can’t just be “moved” and “transitioned”. Nelson he added is no place for Bateman kids.

“It is clear that closing any school will stress many students, overcrowd others. MMR will be over capacity by 2020 and will need trailers. Hayden remains pig stuffed and will be for the foreseeable future, with 12 now, and maybe 18 trailers, in future.”

Muir believes there is sufficient material grounds to recommend a voiding of the 2017 PAR, and to replace it with another PAR or suitable process.

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Grade 9 students from a high school the Board of Education has voted to shut down took to the streets of their neighbourhood handing out Thank You cards.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 25th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

An entire Grade 9 class spent the day handing out kindness cards in Burlington, spreading smiles throughout their school and neighbourhood.

You had to see it to believe it and to pick up on the delighted comments that come across on the video.

Look carefully at the students in the high school handing out the cards to their fellow students.

And look carefully at the school – it is scheduled to be closed in June of 2018.

The Halton District School Board voted to shut down two high schools – Pearson is one of them.

The parents have asked for and were given the opportunity for an Administrative Review to take place. That review is ongoing and a report will be made to the Minister of Education on whether or not the process used by the board was in accordance with Board policies.

Margaret Wilson, the independent Reviewer brought in to look at all the documents and to listen to the parents cannot order that the School Board change its decision – but she can say if the process met all the provincial requirements.

If the process was flawed the Ministry could order that the School Board revisit the Program Accommodation Review (PAC) and maybe hold that PAC a second time.

The video of the students is a delight; click on the link.

 

 

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Tony Brecknock: - it was a vote made under mental, emotional and physical duress, that in the end was pushed through.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 26, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tony Brecknock, a parent with children who graduated from Pearson high school, the school he once attended  came out of the gate swinging at the Administrative Review meeting held to hear the views of parents on a school board vote that closed the high school.  He didn’t choose to thank the chair for allowing him to speak – he went straight to his main point.

“The HDSB policy clearly states that “There must be no fewer than ten (10) business days between the public delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees” , this simply did not happen on June 7, 2017.

HDSB Parents at PARC 1 Jan 26-17

Tony Brecknock, male figure in the centre, attended the PARC meetings and delegated the evening the vote to close the schools was taken

“I was notified of my delegation on June 6th, the day before I was expected to present and it was received and presented on the same day of the vote, June 7th, which means there was a failure of the board’s own policy, namely to provide the Trustees with the sufficient time needed to fully process any and all information before voting.

“This lack of due process, negatively and directly impacted the final decision to close two schools in Burlington.

“My delegation was to be a strictly timed, one shot presentation – I had submitted over 13 pages full of data – so I made sure to include the documents as attachments in my submission, of which a receipt was confirmed by the Board – at noon on the day of the vote.

“There is simply no way that all of my information was clearly ingested.

Amos and Graves

It became painfully clear that Chair Amos, on the left and the vice chair, Kim Graves did not know how to manage the confusing flow of motions that were before the meeting.

“On the night of the vote it was also apparent there was a lack of understanding of how to proceed.

“It seemed that the possibility of not being done, prior to a summer break, pressured decisions to be made ad hoc – not because of clear judicial thinking, but because of the clock ticking,

“During the meeting, the Trustees constantly bounced back and forth amongst specialists in the room, trying desperately to decipher the rules of engagement that they should have studied in advance.

“From that chaos, random recess’ started to happen – one of which was conducted, strategically prior to the final vote.

“The meeting should have been stopped right there, with everyone regrouping.

Voting by hand

The vote was taken to close two of the city’s seven high schools so late in the evening (after midnight) that the electronic vote software had shut down. The trustees voted by a show of hands.

“This decision was made during the very late evening hours, after listening to an overabundance of information – it was a vote made under mental, emotional and physical duress, that in the end was pushed through.

“The prudent course of action would have been to wait 10 business days, as policy dictates, to allow for a period of reflection before a final vote.

“It needs to be mandated at a higher level, that the Boards are fulfilling their due diligence. They need to ensure they are delivering the best educational experience to ALL students.

“A Provincial moratorium on school closures, was put into effect, just two weeks after the vote for a reason – the realization of a flawed process.

“Had the Board adhered to their own policy, this vote would have been deferred to a time of better and calm understanding.

“This committee and by extension the Board, needs to take this review and adhere to the many key components within their own guidelines.

“They need to listen to those that continue to express dissatisfaction with the result, and re-vote to pause the closures – until they have fixed the process.”

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Diane Miller asks provincially appointed Reviewer to revisit the decision to close two of Burlington's seven high schools. Claims it was a flawed process that resulted in a flawed decision.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 25th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was dramatic!

Diane Miller, a parent with children in both Lester B. Pearson (LBP) high school and the Robert Bateman high school stood before Margaret Miller, the provincially appointed Reviewer to conduct a review of the process the Halton District School Board used to decide to close two of the seven high schools in Burlington.

“I was going to use my three minutes to stand in complete silence” she said.

“Why you might ask given the importance of our time with you and this Accommodation Review?

Admin rev 1st meet public

Diane Miller, a Lester B. Pearson high school parent, reading her delegation to provincially appointed Reviewer Margaret Wilson.

“Because I wanted my silence to represent how much weight, importance, and consideration that I felt my correspondence to the HDSB, Trustees, Local MPP, Ministry of Education & Premier meant. No matter what came out of my mouth or via email, I felt it wasn’t heard or listened to.

“No matter how much research, how many logical facts, how many ideas either myself or our LBP group or Bateman group presented, they were discarded. The five minute delegation, which I spent hours on, was discounted and forgotten by the time the next person came up to speak. I might as well have said nothing at all. That is how I felt.

“Today I am hoping you will hear me and that this terrible flawed decision, based on a flawed process, will result in a call for this decision to be revisited.

“Communication by definition is an of exchange of ideas. It is a means of connection between people.

“During the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) review process there was no direct communication between the PARC representatives and the school trustees. The information was filtered or directed to/from the HDSB. While the trustees could attend PARC meetings or public meetings there was no discussion or Q & A with them.

“The public is unaware if there was ever a time when the trustees met to discuss the ideas presented other than at the public HDSB meetings. Trustees seemed to be discouraged from engagement.

“How is this meaningful?

“As delegates we were given five minutes to rush through our presentations. If the trustees had questions then one had the ability to expand on their topic. If not, that was all. No feedback. Nothing.

“The trustees indicated they read through 700 emails (so someone – HDSB? perhaps) was keeping track of that number. Good to know as only two or three trustees ever responded to my correspondence and then only one or two provided more than the automated, I have received your message response.

PARC public - Dec 8 - 16

During the first public meeting in December 2016 parents were asked to answer questions put up on a screen using hand held clickers. The school board was gathering data – the parents thought they were at a meeting where they could ask questions.

“During the first public meeting in December, which most participants seemed to think was a Q & A meeting, the discussion, led by the consultant, appeared to be one way. The audience was given clickers, very slanted questions were put up on a screen and the audience was instructed to click on one of the answers.

“Any questions were met with either silence or that the information was being collected. It was highly frustrating. The process got off to a very bad start.

“It was difficult to get information about the PAR / PARC process to the general public who were not online.

“The information on the HDSB took a bit of searching for some to get updates. It wasn’t until the second PARC meeting in January (2017) that the LBP PARC representatives contact information went up on the LBP website. Principals were under the impression that meeting space and other resources were to be made available. In fact, when I called to ask if a student council meeting, where our trustee would be attending, would allow for Q & A, the principal said she did not know and for me to contact the trustee.

“Community members, at their own cost, and during their own time distributed literature, held meetings, and tried to get information to the students that someone was fighting for their school and for them. It was difficult. The HDSB had all the contact information; the resources to disseminate their information. It was a tilted playing field.

“Is this what the board determines is “communication”?

“Community members were not the only ones who were led to believe that their input would be of value. Students also had that impression.

“In December, before the 1st PARC meeting, a student survey was sent out. The PARC members had no input into the questionnaire. The results of this survey were shared with parents, with the PARC members.

“However, while it is an appendix in Mr. Miller’s report, the contents do not appear to have shaped the decisions made. For example, LBP students marked the fact that teachers knew them; they were there to help them by a large percentage. They were known.

“That is important and impacts learning. It impacts social interactions and mental wellness. LBP is a smaller school. Yet at a HDSB meeting, when asked if he had considered a smaller school within the HDSB parameters moving forward (and I paraphrase here) Mr. Miller said, “no he had not considered a smaller school”. Students were told there would be interaction, yet none seemed to appear during the execution of the PARC phase.

Students doing survey

Survey stations were set up at one of the public meetings.

“Question – Why do a survey if you are going to ignore the data? Especially by the group that you say you are most interested in – the students.

“Teachers who have first hand knowledge into the learning behaviours of their students and interact with them the most had no seat at the PARC table. A survey to capture teacher input was done but with seeming reluctance by the HDSB. The information was given to the trustees but not to PARC members. The rationale was that much would have to be redacted as there would be personal identifying factors. Yet, even redacted, it was not made available to the public. One wonders if the responses did not fit the HDSB narrative.

“The PARC members met seven times yet it was just at the end they felt a positive discussion on innovative ideas was happening. The public, some of whom felt this was a done deal, was left wondering with a variety of both rumours and facts, as to what was going on.

“In a city that is growing why were two schools being targeted for closure? Given that LBP was on 12 of the proposals for closure is it any wonder that the population felt targeted. One still wonders if this process was done in good faith. Why do I ask that?

“a) Our school population, along with Bateman was left to starve of students with the reduction in the number of feeder schools

b) During the PARC a boundary review of a new build happened without LBP (the closer school) even being considered

c) Rumours abound that LBP is to be the home of the HDSB Administrative buildings – I have yet to hear an out and out denial of this rumour. If true, one wants to know when this decision was made. If made prior to the PAR/PARC review or during the review then this process was not entered into in good faith.

e) Bateman is a one of a kind school – yet was put on last minute as a closure and is slated to cost $12 M to replicate at Nelson (everyone knows this figure will balloon)

PARC Jan 27 full group

The PARC consisted of two representatives from the seven high schools; a trustee representative and a city of Burlington representative. The debated issues on one side of a room while the public sat on the other side. There wasn’t any

“PARC was going to be an island. Only selected participants were going to be allowed onto the island. Communications were to be minimal if non-existent at best. The HDSB wanted to meet the “minimum” requirements to say they went through the process.

Diane Miller Admin review delegation“On June 7th, delegations were heard, prepared speeches were read, a vote was held. Two schools were to close. Tell me did those delegations mean anything at all? Especially given the prepared statements that were read that night of why trustees were voting in favour of closure. Did the 10 day between delegations and a vote violation mean anything to the HDSB or the trustees?

“Communication is actively listening, speaking, considering, answering and responding. It is two way. This did not happen.

“The end result. The closing of two schools in a growing community. Schools that are overpopulated; schools that will be thrown into overcapacity with the two school closures.

“A flawed process resulted in flawed decisions.

“Revisit this decision.”

Margaret Wilson listened carefully – took copious notes and at the end of the evening, after listening to everyone who wanted to speak she said the the audience: “I have heard what you had to say.”

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Parents get to air their concerns with the way their schools were closed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The process of being heard for parents who have students at Lester B. Pearson high school and the Robert Bateman high school began last night at the Gary Allen high school on New Street.

Margaret Wilson, the provincially appointed Facilitator who was tasked with meeting with all the parties involved and preparing a report for the Ministry of Education on whether or not the Board Program Accommodation Review (PAR) policies were followed, set up a series of public meetings at which parents could delegate. The large room certainly wasn’t filled but the comments made were what parents needed to say – and last night they were heard.

The process put in place allowed for three delegations from each school. The speakers had a set amount of time to speak – but Wilson found she was able and prepared to extend those time slot to let people finish their delegation.

Ward - George getting his Cogeco minutes of fame

George Ward being interviewed by Cogeco TV

George Ward, one of the Pearson high school delegations, was direct – at times almost pugnacious in his comments.

Ward argued that delegations at the Halton District School Board (HDSB) were in some cases refused, that the Board would send email notifications late in the evening on the night before the delegation day, requesting a 250 word description of the delegation. Ward charged that this was done to “deflect” delegations.

“There is no Board policy requirement for a 250 word outline to be presented prior to delegation” said Ward who added that “in spite of providing the last minute 250 word outline I was still refused to delegate on two occasions May 17th and June 7th.”

There were, said Ward 65 delegations presented over four evenings – 95% of the delegations indicated that it was totally inappropriate to close two Burlington high schools.

Ward pointed out that Board policy states: The Director’s Final Report will include a community consultation section that would include:

• Feedback from the public delegation will be compiled and included
• The Director will present the Final Report, including the compiled feedback from the public delegations

He added that the Director’s Final Report on community feedback is only 5 lines on page 20 and includes only delegation dates with an incorrect number of delegations reported.

Ward took exception to the statement in the HDSB response to the Pearson Administrative Review request that said: “One local Burlington Councillor provided feedback on the closure of Robert Bateman …”. In fact there were four submissions from city Councillors expressing concern with the closing of Burlington high schools.

Ward maintained that the records are incorrect and do not comply with the Board’s policies.

Kelly Amos

It was a tough meeting and the Chair, Kelly Amos didn’t always have have it under control.

Ward pointed out that at the June 7th meeting, at which the trustees voted to accept the recommendation from Stuart Miller, HDSB Director of Education, the Board Chair, Kelly Amos, failed to competently manage the sequence of voting motions and amendments. Despite having both the Board’s legal counsel and a Parliamentarian in the room Amos was still unable to competently conduct the sequence in orderly fashion and as a result lost control of the meeting.”

Ward said that at that point in the meeting, the Director of Education, said to Amos: “Perhaps I may be of assistance” then proceeded to filibuster on the recommendations in his Final Report, then called upon Board Superintendents who continued to delegate.

“After this extended acquiescing of control and inappropriate delegations of over an hour, a recess was called where the Director, Superintendents and Trustees save one, went into a segregated closed door meeting. Upon their return a vote was held which resulted in the Trustees voting to close two Burlington High Schools” said Ward.

“Thus we have incompetent meeting control with an inappropriate hour long school board last minute delegation that is non-compliant to the Board’s “No fewer than ten (10) business day Policy between delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees.”

Ward didn’t detail the “No fewer than ten business days” concern that many had. The PAR policy required to HDSB to hear delegations and then allow a period of ten days to elapse before a vote was taken.

The HDSB was hearing delegations as late as 11:00 pm, taking breaks during which trustees, some Superintendents and the Director of Education met for close to an hour and then returning to vote on the recommendation.

The ten day period during which trustees could think about all the delegations, review what they had heard during a process that started six month earlier and reflect was lost.

The vote took place after midnight of a meeting that started at 7:00 pm.

Many felt the fix was in – that the trustees had no intention of doing their jobs – but had decided they were going to go with the recommendation that came from the Director of Education.

For the first time parents from schools that were scheduled to be closed had an opportunity to say what they felt in a public meeting.

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High school parents meet with an appointed facilitator to set out their concerns with the way the PAR process that resulted in the closure of two city high schools was handled.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 23rd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first of the public delegations made to the Administrative Review facilitator Margaret Wilson takes place this evening.

Margaret Wilson PAR Admin Review

Margaret Wilson

Ms Wilson met with the members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) last night; not all of the 14 members showed up. Trustee Donna Danielli who was part of the PARC attended. James Ridge, Burlington city manager didn’t make it.

It was a private meeting – difficult to get much in the way of comment however there were people who attended who felt it was “cathartic” and that Wilson really listened and is reported to have said she watched a lot of Board meeting videos.

There was, apparently, good open dialogue between the PARC people and Ms Wilson. Tom Ward, a Ministry of Education official who is responsible for how the Halton and Peel Regions meet their obligations, sat in on the meeting and explained the procedure that will be followed.

Ms Wilson expects to have her report completed before Christmas.

Her report is given to the Minister of Education.

Her report is not public unless the Ministry decides to make it public.

The Ministry will then decide if the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) that the Board held was done according to the Ministry Guidelines.

PARC anxious parent

Observing, listening or praying?

If it wasn’t – then the Ministry can direct the Board to hold a second PAR.

There was a rather significant point made during the private meeting having to do with the timing of the PAR meetings.

The Board has its delegation procedure; the Ministry had its own delegation procedures which trump those of the Board.

PARC with options on the walls

Fourteen citizens, pulled together to serve as the communications channel between the Board of Education and the community, while a Program Accommodation Review recommendation was being debated by the trustees.

There were, Apparently, a couple of significant Ministry policy violations – one relating to the number of days between the last of the delegations and when the trustees met to vote on the recommendation that had come from the Director of Education.

Was that violation significant enough to make a difference – many parents think so.

What most parents think is that the Ministry Guidelines were so flawed that a sound public review of the recommendations given to the trustees was not possible.

Four trustees

Four of the 11 Board of Education trustees sitting in on one of the PARC meetings.

What didn’t help was that the majority of the trustees were way in over their heads; they didn’t have the experience or the understanding to properly do the job they had taken on. I wasn’t an easy job.

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Administrative Review of the process used to determine whether or not to close two Burlington begins this evening; PARC members take part in a private meeting.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Notice of Meeting was sent to Scott Podrebarac chair of the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) and to members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC).

It was sent on behalf of Margaret Wilson, Ministry of Education appointed Reviewer of the Burlington PAR

The language was stiff and stilted bit it did set out clearly what was going to happen.

Liz Sandals and Margaret Wilson

Liz Sandals.ember of the Wynne government cabinet introduces Margaret Wilson.

“Margaret Wilson has been appointed by the Minister of Education to examine the Burlington PARC process relative to the Halton District School Board Program Accommodation Review (PAR) policy.

“Ms Wilson has been charged with the responsibility to review the process and has no authority to change the decision of the trustees of the Halton District School Board

“The purpose of this communication is to provide the details of the private PAR committee members meeting which is to take place, Wednesday, November 22, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the Lockhart Room, New Street Education Centre.”

The Agenda starts with an introduction to the PAR process that will be given by Margaret Wilson followed by the introduction of the 14 members of the PAR committee members.

That is followed by feedback from the PAR committee members that will include brief remarks from each of the PAR committee members related to the PARC process – three minutes per presentation.
Then there is open discussion

The session ends with closing remarks from Margaret Wilson.

Neither media nor the public will be present at this meeting as it is private to members of the PARC.

On Thursday, the 23rd and on Tuesday the 28th parents from the schools get their chance to tell Wilson what they thought of the PAR process.

PARC with options on the walls

PAR committee members in one of the seven public sessions they participated in – they were never able to reach a consensus.

Time slots will be set aside for a spokesperson from the two schools that are scheduled to close; parents from any high school in the city are permitted to speak at these two meetings. Each speaker has three minutes to speak.

The presentation from the Bateman and Pearson high school parents get 10 minutes to make their point.
Wilson will not want to hear how unfair the decision to close a school might have been – she is there to review the process – did the HDSB follow the policy that was in place?

HDSB Parents at PARC 1 Jan 26-17

HDSB parents at PARC meeting looking less than impressed.

This is a very difficult for many parents to get their heads around – they are arguing that it is the process that was faulty to begin with.

Board of Education staff were not forgotten in this process. Ms Wilson met with all the Superintendents to set out for them their role in the review process. She explained to them what they can do and what they cannot do.
Ms Wilson will have gone over literally every piece of information. She will meet with the Chair of the PAR.

Miller prep at Central

HDSB Director of Education at one of the many public meetings he took [part in.

Stuart Miller got a call from the Ministry of Education that gave him his marching orders. The Review is a Ministry of Education initiative that came about when parents from Robert Bateman high school and Lester B. Pearson high school requested an Administrative Review of the process that was used.

The role of the Board of Education – both staff and trustees is to step aside and let the Review take place.
A number of school boards across the province requested Administrative Reviews – the Halton Board schools were the only ones that got a positive response.

There are all kinds of theories floating around the community.

Many feel that the Ministry now realizes that the procedure they put in place for the school boards to follow was flawed and as a result of the realization the Ministry ordered the no new PAR’s be put in place.

Will the Wilson report touch on that point or will she write a report that says the Board followed the rules – can she say that the rules were less than fair and couldn’t result in a fair decision?

Will the Ministry realize that their guide lines – regulations were flawed and first change them and then direct the school boards to hold new PAR’s?

four-trustees

From the left: Trustees Papin, Reynolds, Ehl Harris and Grebenc observing one of the public meetings.

Where do the trustees fit into all this? They are the elected leaders of the Board – they set policy and decide where a school is to be built and where a school is to be closed.

Those who paid close attention to the way the HDSB handled the issue quickly came to the conclusion that the Halton Board trustees were not up to the job.

Would a second PAR be under the same procedures that didn’t work the first time?

While Burlington works its way through the Review – the province looks months ahead to June when there will be a provincial election. If the public elects a new government and makes Patrick Brown the Premier expect a significantly different set of education policies to be put in place.

The Pearson and Bateman high school parent groups are taking much different approaches to the Review process. Pearson is using a data approach while the Bateman parents are using a human rights approach.

There was a time when the two parent groups worked together but that didn’t last very long. Now there are reported rifts between the parents in the Bateman group. Some describe the Bateman parent leadership as “obsessed”.

The better observers seem to be coming around to the view that the process was indeed flawed and that the Ministry of Education has admitted as much.

Choosing Margaret Wilson as the Reviewer for the HDSB situation and the consultant who wrote a stinging report on practices and procedures at the Toronto Board of Education, suggests to these observers that she will ferret out all the concerns and give the Ministry as report that will allow them to revise the PAR process.

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Pearson parents at a Board of Education meeting.

Will that result in a decision to have the Halton District School Board to do a second PAR? And how long will that take – and what will happen to the work being done now to integrate the Pearson students into M.M. Robinson.

Pearson is scheduled to be closed in June of 2018.

Interesting times ahead.

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Environmentalist tells audience that there is still time.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I describe Cameron Brown as the “warm up band” for David Suzuki’s presentation at the Performing Arts Centre last night.

Cameron Brown BG Nov 2017 smile

Cameron Brown – intense and direct, motivates a Burlington audience.

Brown is an intense young Australian who was touring Canada and was available. Burlington Green added him to the program – the audience got a no holds barred talk from a deeply committed environmentalist.

Cameron Brown is a motivational story teller who plays the piano and makes really bold statements.

“You have to run everything you do through three filters” advises Brown: “What does what I am doing do for me; what does it do for others and what does it do for the plant.”

Brown will tell you that “ it is really that simple”.

While Brown is part of the program that features Dr. David Suzuki, he has never met the man and had yet to have a conversation with him. They certainly share the same environmental committement.
Brown talks about human behaviour and emotional intelligence and the need for society to make intelligent decisions.

Brown’s passion is to get people to “experience” the environment.

While Brown isn’t into owning “stuff” he does love his drone. He uses it to “experience” the environment and as a teaching tool when he is in parts of the world where electricity is limited and the drinking water is nowhere near what we take for granted in Canada.

The kids I work with are cool about saving the planet; it is one of the ways the find themselves – the are “fricken awesome”

BG event Nov 2017 - group

Making an event happen takes a team of people – those that made the Connect the Dots sessions work line up for their photo op.

Brown created a corporation – The Thriving Collective – that is committed to making a positive impact in the world, and was built for those dedicated to using their own unique talents and strengths to do the same.

Cameron Brown - side view

Cameron Brown

“I believe” said Brown “that every person has the potential to use what they’ve been given in this life, to create positive change and succeed in a way that only they can.

“When someone is thriving in their lives both personally and professionally, they’re in flow, they’re doing their best work, they are happier, more connected, higher performing and highly productive.”

It would be hard to find better or more fitting words to close the evening event at the Performing Arts Centre where Brown played music with the theme “There’s Still Time”.

We certainly hope so.

Related news story – Suzuki talks.

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David Suzuki brings his message to Burlington - we are the kind of city he likes.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

David Suzuki has been doing media interviews for at least 50 years – he is an old hand at it.

The energy isn’t what is was a decade ago but the passion and the belief that we are the only people who can make the change if we are going to save this planet.

Suzuki tells his audiences that we human beings are the only creatures on this planet that think in terms of having a future – our challenge is to decide what that future is going to be.

david-suzuki

David Suzuki – preaching his gospel knowing that we can save this planet on simple step at a time – he reminds us that WE have to take those steps.

Asked if it is too late – he will look at you through those eyes we have seen when he was doing Quirks and Quarks on CBC and on The Nature of Things, a CBC program he is still doing.

Suzuki works at two levels – evangelizing and getting out the big picture. He takes to the stage and repeats the same message – it is ours to live, work and play in – and now we need to save it – we have come perilously close to killing this planet.

His other level is more personal. He still rants about the damage done by the Harper government and still gets back to his core message – “pay attention to the science.”

He rails at what he sees the politicians doing and tells the story of a high school classmate who in the 50’s said he wanted to be a Politician because that is the level at which you can make a difference.

At that point David Suzuki will look at you intently and ask – “Do you know any young people who want to go into politics today?”

About a decade ago (was it really that long) the federal government decided that it would no longer have Statistics Canada do the long form census. The science community – indeed all of the academic world was stunned. (The long form census is the document that gathers all kinds of data that is used to learn what is happening in the country – what people are doing. It is a critical measuring device without which it is very difficult to make decisions.)

Long form census - cartoon

The long form census was brought to an end by the Harper government – sanity prevailed and it was brought back quickly by the government that succeeded him.

When the decision not to continue with the long form census was made by the Harper government the head of Statistics quit in protest. “They should have all walked out the door and made a statement” says Suzuki. David shrugs, looks up and without saying a word conveys the feeling that it is difficult at times to understand why people do what they do.

Suzuki asks: “How old are you” – I tell him – he says “you’re looking pretty good” – realizing that both of us are getting a little long in the tooth but don’t know how to stop fighting the good fight.

Later in the evening Suzuki will take to the stage and talk to an almost adoring audience. He is an icon that the young people admire, respect and look to for some of the answers.

When he gets going the energy comes back and he is close to unstoppable.

He touches the lives of all and he knows it – so he travels the country and spreads his gospel.

Blue dot t-shirt

The Blue Dot message.

Suzuki was brought to the city by Burlington Green – they brought Jane Goodall a couple of years ago. These marquee speakers do well with the young audience that Burlington Green attracts. They are energetic, keen, wide eyed and bushy tailed. Suzuki put it very well when he said: “They get it.”

Tied into the talks Suzuki gave was the “blue dot” which is a project that wants every Canadian to have the right to clean water and a healthy environment.

“When our provincial and federal decision-makers have recognized our right to a healthy environment, we will turn toward the ultimate goal: we seek to amend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the right to a healthy environment, so that we can join the 110 countries around the world that already have this right included in their constitutions.”

There are now more than 150 municipalities that have signed on to the Blue Dot movement – Burlington made that decision in 2015.

Related news story.

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School board looking for public input on changes to course offerings at Aldershot high school.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 21st, 2017

BURLINGTON,ON

 

It was close to a throw away idea, something that was put on the table, almost as a distraction.

The Halton District School Board trustees were debating the staff recommendation to close two of the city’s seven high schools.

No one was sure quite what to call the initiative: was it to be a theme school, an incubator, a magnet to attract a specific group of students.

Part of the reason for coming up with an idea was to give the Aldershot high school more of a purpose. There are elementary schools in Burlington that has a larger enrollment than Aldershot.

Despite how low the enrollment at Aldershot was – it wasn’t going to be possible to close that school.
Especially when during the early stages of the PAR process when Central high school was recommended for closure.

Exploration working logoThe idea for something different in Aldershot got included with the resolution the trustees were debating – it both didn’t have traction in the minds of any of the trustees and several didn’t event understand what the idea was about.

With the decision to close Pearson and Bateman done – the parent groups at both schools shifted their energy to getting a request for an Administrative Review approved by the Ministry of Education.
The schools that were to remain open settled back and resumed a normal life.

Terri Blackwell Mar 7-17

Superintendent Terri Blackwell talking to a parent during public meetings on high school closings.

Superintendent Terri Blackwell was given the task of overseeing the transition of the schools that were being closed into schools that were being kept open. She was also given the task of handling what became known as the Aldershot Exploration.

They started out by asking people for ideas – what did people want?
Blackwell was working with a clean slate. There was no agenda – it was almost as if they threw the spaghetti against the wall to see what stuck.

And a lot of that spaghetti did stick.  There were more than 200 ideas sent in.

And they were good – so good that Blackwell and her team found that they had to create themes and came up with 15 of them – which is really quite remarkable.

Alternative calendarEntreprreunership-businessFinancial literacyHigh perf athInnovation-techThe public got to see the themes at an Open House on November 13th. The ideas were set out on tables at stations where the themes were displayed.

The next step for the Blackwell is to narrow the 15 down to a manageable number. “We don’t have to choose the one theme – this is a wide open situation” said Blackwell. “We want to see where the interest is and then begin thinking how we could make what the public has suggested work.”

Making it work is not a simple matter – curriculum material has to be created, figuring out where the staff will come from and understanding where the students will come from are just part of the challenge.

Some of the parents who were on the PAR think the idea is a great one and has the potential to offer courses that meet the needs of the changing world high schools are going to be going into.

Post secondary partnerships Social justiceStudents who learn diffArtsEnvironment - EcoHealth - wellnessLive at high schoolHuman artsProject - problem basedBlackwell is excited and the people working on the project are just as excited.

Steve Armstrong thinks this is an idea that could define what the Halton School Board is all about.

The final recommendation to the Board of Trustees will be a concept developed from one of these themes, a morphing of multiple themes or a yet to be developed theme as a result of continued input, ideas, and research.
The Halton District School Board has created a survey for the public to provide input on the themes identified.

We encourage parents/guardians, students and community members from Halton and beyond to give their input as it will further inform the Exploration Committee.

• All responses will remain anonymous.
• The order in which the themes appear in the survey is alphabetical.

TimelineThe HDSB has sent an email to parents/guardians of all current elementary and secondary students, as well as staff, with a link to the survey. Members of the public can complete the survey directly

The survey is available from Monday, November 13 to Monday, November 27, 2017.

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