We can't continue disrespecting the Indigenous people - school board chair needs to learn how to pronounce the words.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It has taken decades for Canadians to begin to come to terms with our Indigenous community.

The federal government took us through the Truth and Reconciliation process and the Halton District School Board (HDSB) has been very proactive in getting the subject of recognizing and respecting the people who walked this land long before white people first sailed up the St Lawrence River.

Burlington doesn’t have an Indigenous population – we don’t have any direct issues to deal with. Thunder Bay is in a very different situation – something they struggle with.

The HDSB now makes a practice of having the Chair reads out a statement at the beginning of each public meeting.

Amos treaty land statement

Statement read at the beginning of every public session of the Halton District School Board.

There was a time when that Board may have had everyone stand up and Sing God Save the Queen or O’Canada
Most of us knew the words or at least some of them.

The Chair of the Board read the Honouring the Land and Territory  – she shouldn’t have, at least not until she has taken the time to learn the correct pronunciation and is able to get her tongue around the more difficult ones.

To read the statement so badly is an insult to the Indigenous people.

There are Indigenous people on staff that can help the Chair get the pronunciation right. Some of the words are not easy – practicing and getting it right is what we owe these people. If HDSB Chair Kelly Amos cannot do it right  – better not to do it at all.

Our ancestors took their land, do we have to mangle their culture?

Return to the Front page

Halton Learning Foundation Benefit Bash a resounding success - the need they serve however is growing faster than the fund raising.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Learning Foundation hold what they call a Benefit Bash, an occasion they use to thank the people who support their work and to let loose just a little bit.

The Foundation is in place to work with school principal’s to meet those immediate need situations that far too many students face.

Lesley MansfieldLesley Mansfield, the Executive Director of the Foundation reports that “This year’s Benefit Bash was one of the most successful to date, raising almost $89,000 in support of Halton District School Board students in need. Demand from schools to help vulnerable students is up more than 40% this year to date, so these funds are critical to ensure we can continue saying ‘yes’ to requests for support.”

hlf-posterThe Foundation provides financial support and is one of those early indicators of where there are real on the ground needs that often don’t get detected.

HLF provides emergency funds for students who require basics such as warm clothing, food, school transportation and school supplies, or who need help to be included in experiences such as field trips or school teams.

Return to the Front page

Board of Education is looking for people to help with the high school closing process while parents hope that the Administrative Review will result in a reversal of the decision.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 14th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sounds like rubbing the salt into the wound.

The Board of Education sent out a media release asking Lester B. Pearson high parents if they might be interested in serving on a sub-committee to prepare for the school’s closing in June 2018.

They have until December 1st to send in an Expression of Interest Submission form.

On the same day a group of parents from the school were told by the Board that Patrick Brown, Leader of the Ontario Opposition could not tour the schools.

LBP George Ward + Rory Nisen

Rory Nisan and George Ward trading contact information – both have been active in efforts to keep their school open.

In their media release the Board said the Lester B. Pearson High School’s Integration Committee is seeking subcommittee members and volunteers to form two subcommittees in preparation of the school’s closing in June 2018. Members of the subcommittees can be students, staff, parents, alumni or community members.

The first subcommittee is being created to assist in the identification, gathering and cataloguing of Lester B. Pearson High School artifacts and the development of a plan to honour memorabilia. Members of the second subcommittee will assist in the planning of closing ceremonies and community activities.

pearson-high-school-sign

Where will the school’s memorabilia go?

Tasks of subcommittee members and volunteers include, but are not limited to:

• Creating an inventory of artifacts and memorabilia items (e.g. banners, graduate composites, awards, etc.)
• Designing and dedicating space to display memorabilia in the community
• Liaising with the Burlington Historical Society and Burlington museums
• Development and planning of closing ceremonies and activities
• Developing a communication strategy and timelines

“Honouring artifacts and memorabilia from Lester B. Pearson High School and celebrating the history of the school is a priority for the Integration Committee, as well as current and former students and staff,” says Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education for the Halton District School Board.

If you are interested in this opportunity, as a subcommittee member or volunteer, please complete the Expression of Interest form  The form will be available until Friday, December 1, 2017. The subcommittees will be formed prior to the first meeting on December 14, 2017.

Margaret Wilson PAR Admin Review

Bateman and Pearson high school parents are hoping that Margaret Wilson, the Facilitator doing an Administrative Review of the Board decision to close the schools will recommend that the PAR process be done a second time.

Parents at the two high schools scheduled to close are hanging their hopes for a change in the decision on the Administrative Review of the process the Board used to close the school.

It is a stretch – but Administrative Reviews have in the past sent a decision back to a school board and required them to do the Program Accommodation Review a second time.

The problem with this “hope” is that it all goes back to the elected trustees that made the decision to close the schools.

That’s the level at which a change has to be made.

Return to the Front page

School board says no no to parent request to have the Ontario Leader of the Opposition pay a visit to a school threatened with closure.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 14, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board has denied a request to have Progressive Conservative Education Critic and party leader MPP Patrick Brown visit two Burlington High Schools.

Representatives from Robert Bateman and Lester B. Pearson Parent Councils submitted requests to have Brown visit their schools as part of their efforts to highlight the critical roles their schools play in the community.

The denial came from HDSB representative Marnie Denton who told the groups that “there aren’t to be school tours by politicians at this time.” When asked whether this was a Board staff or Trustee decision, Ms Denton provided a three word response “Board staff decision”. No other reasons for the denial of the request were provided despite several requests.

Brecknock Tony

Tony Brecknock

Tony Brecknock, a member of the Pearson Parent Council said “denying a visit to the school – any visit by a very important member of our political system and society – is failing both the students of Pearson and Bateman and the community as a whole.”

Brecknock adds that the Board seems “afraid of the exposure but this is unacceptable in a transparent, democratic society.”
Both Robert Bateman High School and Pearson High School are slated for closure following the HDSB’s Program Accommodation Review (PAR) conducted earlier this year. Committees working to save both schools were successful in their requests to the Ministry of Education for Administrative Reviews – one of the only mechanisms available for communities to fight school closures. Last month, Margaret Wilson was appointed Facilitator for the Reviews currently underway.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Bateman parents and students demonstrating to keep their school open.

Deb Wakem who is a Bateman parent and a member of that Parent Council says that “if the school board is to learn from their mistakes and improve a process which has massive ramifications on the community and our children we need to work together – politicians, the school board, community – to ensure we have the best process in place.

Wakem also suggests that “by not allowing Patrick Brown to visit these amazing schools, the HDSB is merely hiding from responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

MMW with T - shirt

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with Ontario Leader of the Opposition Patrick Brown at a Queen’s Park rally.

Patrick Brown, the leader of the provincial PC party has been an outspoken critic of the Liberal government’s record of school closures in Ontario and called for a moratorium on such closures in early 2017 well ahead of the government’s current moratorium. As part of the PC’s Recommended Policy Resolutions currently being considered by their members, the party is recommending “an immediate moratorium on school closures and an immediate review of any schools that are slated to close.”

Return to the Front page

Community group brings Sarah Harmer back to her home town to once again protect the environment.

News 100 greenBy Staff

November 14, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They are bringing in the big guns.

Sarah Harmer smile

Sarah Harmer, will speak at the Tyandaga Environmental Coalition public meeting.

Juno award winning singer, songwriter and conservation activist, Sarah Harmer, will speak at the Tyandaga Environmental Coalition public meeting on November 16, 2017 in Burlington, Ontario.

Harmer will join a group of environmental experts and advocates to raise public awareness of the scheduled deforestation of northwest Burlington by Meridian Brick.

An estimated 9,000 trees are scheduled to be clear cut for an urban quarry that mines shale for brick production. The threatened area contains about 35 acres prime forest, habitat to a number of at-risk and endangered species, including an endangered Jefferson dependant unisexual salamander that was discovered in the spring.

Meridian Brick is expanding its quarry under an aggregate license that was issued in 1972. The proposed quarry expansion would now come as close as 35m to homes in the Tyandaga neighborhood, threatening the health and well-being of the community.

werv

PERL took years and a lot of local fund raising to get to the point where a Joint Tribunal ruled that the application for a quarry expansion was to be denied because of the endangered species on the property. The upper orange outline is the existing quarry – the lower outline is where the expansion was to take place.

Sarah Harmer co-founder of the conservation organization PERL (Protect Escarpment Rural Land) that helped stop an 82-hectare aggregate quarry on the Niagara Escarpment at Mt. Nemo north of Burlington. She continues to raise awareness of the environmental impact of aggregate mining.

Harmer will join a list of environmental experts that includes Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, David Donnelly, environmental lawyer and former Director of the Canadian Environmental Defense, Dr. Lynda Lukasik, environmental advocate for sustainable community development and the Executive Director at Environment Hamilton, and Roger Goulet, Executive Director for PERL.

The Tyandaga Environmental Coalition (TEC) is a group of concerned citizens fighting to save Burlington’s greenspace and protect the health and wellbeing of the city’s residents. Once a small group of like-minded-neighbors that came together when quarry expansion was announced, the environmental coalition now has nearly 3,000 supporters that are helping to petition the Honourable Kathryn McGarry (Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry) and the Honourable Chris Ballard (Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change).

Three-quarry-sites

The west and centre quarries are nearing the end of life and the company wants to now quarry in the eatern section that is metres away from private homes.

TEC is requesting that the proposed urban quarry extension have an immediate independent evaluation of the impact on the community based on the current demography and updated environmental and health standards. Also needed are further studies of how clear cutting an estimated 35 acres of forested habitat will affect endangered species. These studies need to be viewed from the perspective of current environmental law.

The meeting will be held on November16, 2017, 7:00 pm at the Crossroads Centre located at 1295 North Service Road, Burlington

Return to the Front page

Italian exchange student tries to teach Burlington family how to make pizza. They teach him how to water ski and learn to skate

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 13th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Marcello - standing

Marcello Beltrami

Marcello Beltrami is a 17 year old Italian student in Burlington as part of a Rotary International student exchange. He will be staying with four different families during his yearlong visit.

He is with Tom and Margaret Hayes for the first three months. Exchange students are nothing new to the Hayes household – they have had students from France, Thailand, Brazil and Peru.

Tom and Margaret are basically empty nesters – he is a mechanical engineer she is an accountant.

Marcello is a student at Assumption high school where he takes English as a second language classes and is also taking classes in biology. His student bent seems to be in the sciences.

When student exchange interviews take place – everyone is on their best behavior – the situation is always perfect – never any problems.

Marcello with hays

Tom Hayes, Marcello, Margaret Hayes and the family dog

In the Hayes household – that’s actually the way it was. The dog barked and sniffed where you didn’t want him to sniff. The cat had that insouciance that only cats and very attractive women manage to pull off.

And Marcello giggled while telling me about how he was teaching Tom to make pizza. In Burlington pizza is something we order in – Marcello is Italian and he assumed that everyone makes the pizza from scratch.
Marcello wasn’t a guest – he was a member of the family and you could feel it as the conversation bumped from Tom, to Marcello and then on to Margaret.

What did Marcello know about Canada before he got here: that we are known for Maple Syrup and that it gets cold – very cold.

Home in Italy is in Cremona – in the southern part of Italy. His Mom is an English teacher and with Skype on his computer he can be in touch with his parents whenever he wants.

The Hayes are doing a superb job of ensuring that Marcello gets out and learns about the country. He had the traditional pea meal bacon sandwich at the St. Lawrence Market, got to Montreal to watch the Canadiens play Detroit; the Hayes household is part of that tribe that still believes the Maple Leafs will win a Stanley Cup – soon. Marcello was oblivious to that tribal trait.

On a trip to Little Italy Marcello met a woman from Calabria, Italy and immediately fell into a conversation about where he was from and what he was doing in Canada.

During the summer the family took Marcello to the lake and gave him a chance to try water skiing – “He got up the first time” said Tom. Skating is next for the Italian.

What is Marcello allowed to do? His behaviour is guided by what Rotarians describe as the five D’s.

Marcello Margaret Hayes

Margaret Hayes explains the Rotary 5Ds

No driving
No drinking
No drugs
No dating
No dis figuration – tattoos, nose rings.

The last week of the yearlong experience is spent by all the International students on a two week tour of eastern Canada.

Margaret Hayes is a strong advocate for the International Student idea. She believes that the better we understand each other the more peaceful the world we live in will be. This she was disappointed when just three people in Burlington applied for the International experience and she isn’t quite sure why the number of applicants was so low.

Marcello - Tom Hayes

Tom Hayes

Through the interview there was a lot of joshing and kidding back and forth. Marcello will move on to the next family he will spend three months with – Tom is going to miss that young man.

Marcello speaks to the Lakeshore Rotary Club at lunch on Tuesday.

Return to the Front page

War is hell - art is used to convey just how dark a hole that hell is.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

November 11th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The art of war – that statement can be taken several ways.

It could be the methods used to kill people when we are at war. Goodness knows we have read more than enough about just how inhuman we can be.

Art has also been the form we use to show the horror of war.

Slide01Dave Barry used art to talk about what war at a presentation he made at the Teresa Seaton Gallery on NAME Saturday afternoon.

Using a very impressive collection of pictures Barry took his audience through

Using the dictum that a picture is worth a thousand words we are going to let the art tell the story. There were 97 pictures used in the presentation.

This feature shows just a portion of the presentation.Slide22Slide13 Slide19Slide52

Slide03

Return to the Front page

Why do authors write what they write - hear two writers in conversation with Lynda Simmons at The Different Drummer.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

November 4th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It's a small, independent bookstore that has been in business for more than forty years and continues to draw top level authors. Burlington is one of the few Canadians cities that consistently offers these events.

It’s a small, independent bookstore that has been in business for more than forty years and continues to draw top level authors. offers

A Different Drummer Books has put together a program that anyone interested in how authors create the books they write will be interested in attending.

Robyn Harding and Roz Nay will be in conversation with Linda Simmons on Friday November 17 – 7pm at A Different Drummer Books

Admission is free – they do want you to register.

Diff drummer authorsRobyn Harding wrote The Party – a powerful novel of family tragedy and harrowing social descent. Roz Nay, wrote Our Little Secret, a stunning, taut and adroitly designed thriller.

Lynda Simmons, an accomplished novelist and creative writing instructor, will lead her fellow authors in a discussion of their books and the writer’s art.

Sounds like something worth the time
Please register at diffdrum@mac.com

Put Please reserve a place for me on November 17. in the subject line.

Return to the Front page

Sound of Music offering a From Nothing to Something class - FREE - just have to register.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 1st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Sound of Music isn’t just a week long music feast beside a big lake.

The organization puts on events and will be doing a – From Nothing to Something class.

SoM class graphicMusic can be achieved by mixing creativity, teamwork and some basic movement. Turn a zipper into a scratching turntable. A bottle for a cowbell. Clap, tap or stomp in a pattern. Use multiple voices to layer and create impact.

Body percussion is fun, challenging and interactive!

Sign up your 9-12 year old kids for this free workshop! Space is limited. Maximum 20 children. Reserve your spot today.

WHERE: The Halton HiVE, 901 Guelph Line, Burlington (parking is free)

WHEN: Sunday, November 19 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm

There is no cost to attend but pre-registration is required. Download the form, (Just click on the red type above to get the form) fill it in and email it, along with any questions to musiced@soundofmusic.ca.

The Sound of Music year-round music education workshops are sponsored by Terrapure Environmental.

Return to the Front page

Burlingtonians want to know much more about aging - tickets to the event sold out.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 1, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is the kind of problem our Mayor likes to have. Listen in.

Moses Znaimer was invited to present his “New Vision on Aging” that is to take place on November 7 at the Performing Arts Centre

Znaimer Moses“The response for this event has been amazing, and we have completely “sold out”. Our wait list for tickets currently sits at 80 requests.

“If you have registered but are unable to attend, we ask that you kindly cancel your ticket or contact mayor@burlington.ca This will enable staff to release tickets to those on the wait list.”

He should be in the same situation next October.

Return to the Front page

Public to get a look at the more than 200 ideas that came in about the Focus Exploration at Aldershot high school.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 1st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is hosting an Open House on Monday, November 13, 2017, from 5-7 p.m., to discuss the themes suggested for an innovative high school concept at Aldershot High School.

More than 200 responses were received from parents, students, staff and community members from Halton and beyond through an online suggestion box that closed on October 20, 2017.

Aldersgot HS crestThe Open House will be an opportunity for the Aldershot Exploration Committee to share the themes generated and gather further input. The Open House will be hosted at Aldershot High School (50 Fairwood Place West, Burlington).

The Open House will include an overview beginning at 5 p.m. which will be repeated at 6 p.m. Board staff will be available to share information and answer questions.

“We have received many submissions for the creation of an innovative high school concept to serve Halton and beyond and we are very excited about the possibilities,” says Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education for the Halton District School Board. “We invite you to attend our Open House as we share the themes and gather your collective input, which will inform our processes for developing a recommendation.”

A follow-up survey will be administered after the Open House to gather input on the themes presented.

The Aldershot High School Focus Exploration was one of the recommendations approved by Trustees in June 2017 when they made the decision to close two of the city’s seven high schools.

The Aldershot high school has a very low enrollment – the Board felt there was an opportunity to come up with ideas on how to attract more students to the school and decided to ask parents what they thought would do well in that community.

Return to the Front page

Students who will enter high school next September are invited to visit the school and learn about the programs offered - two of the seven high schools in the city will not graduate those young people.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 1, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

High school information nights are scheduled by the Halton District School Board during the month of November to provide an opportunity for students, parents and guardians to learn about Grade 9 programs, services for students and diploma requirements.

Each high school in will host an information evening. Families should attend the information night at the school designated for their community.

Aldershot High School

Thursday, November 23 @ 6:30 p.m.

Burlington Central High School

Thursday, November 16 @ 7 p.m.

Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School

Thursday, November 9 @ 6:30 p.m.

Protest outside board office

Protests, petitions, soundly argued points on planning mistakes the parents think the Board of Education made – so far nothing has made a difference. The School Board trustees made the decision to close the school and that is what the Board staff are going to do.

Lester B. Pearson High School

Thursday, November 16 @ 7 p.m. (at M.M. Robinson High School)

M.M. Robinson High School

Thursday, November 16 @ 7 p.m.
Extended French and French Immersion (FI) information night: Thursday, November 30 @ 7 p.m.

Nelson High School

Wednesday, November 22 @ 6:30 p.m.

Bateman hug

Bateman parents give their high school a hug – didn’t make any difference – the school is scheduled to be closed in 2020.

Robert Bateman High School

Thursday, November 30 @ 7 p.m.

For students in the Pearson and Bateman catchment areas preparing to begin their high school careers at a school they will not be able to graduate from is an issue that needs some attention from the Board of Education.

So far nothing from the Transition team.

Related articles:

School Board tell the Ministry of Education where they get the authority to close a school.

Return to the Front page

Freeman Station gets a $4000 cheque from District 15 of the Retired Teachers of Ontario.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 31, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Retired teachers

Retired Teachers of Ontario members presented the Friends of Freeman Station with a grant of $4000. Left to Right: Ron Danielsen, FOFS President; Ruth Miller, RTO Project Sponsor; Penny Hambly, RTO Awards Committee; Carolyn Hilton, RTO Awards Committee; and Claudia Stewart, RTO-District 15 President.

Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO) announced approval of a grant application by Friends of Freeman Station (FOFS) to fund a computer control system for its historic model railway educational exhibit. The money will be used to purchase the central “brains” of a planned interactive, museum-quality model railway diorama depicting life in the village of Freeman (now part of Burlington) in the early 1900’s.

“The diorama, we envision, will eventually be an exciting educational experience for visiting school groups as well as the general public,” said Bob Miller and Ken Taylor, co-leaders of the FOFS Basement Diorama Railway Committee (BDRC). “We were pleased to receive word of the RTO/ETO favourable decision.“

cheque FOFSClaudia Stewart, President of RTO District 15/Halton, said, “We look forward to continuing involvement of our RTO members in the creation and operation of the diorama, and we see it as an important addition to the learning experiences of local youth and the general public – a nostalgic look back at life before airplanes, computers, and smart phones.”

Freeman Model B

One of the pieces of rolling stock that will be part of the diorama when it is completed and located in the basement of the Freeman Station

Brian Aasgaard, President of FOFS, says construction of the Lower Level Railway diorama will begin soon at the Burlington Junction Station, and will proceed in several phases. The computer system will eventually automatically control lights, lighting effects, audio and video playback, and movement of the model trains to create an informative and educational story of life in the village.

Freeman - model A

A larger look at some of the rolling stock that will be part of the diorama to be located in the basement of the Freeman Station. This equipment is on view at the Station until November 4th.

The diorama team includes approximately 35 persons with model railroading, diorama creation, and authoring interactive educational materials. Interested parties are invited to join the team. Skills sought include 1/24 scale modeling, scene painting, computer programming, teaching, writing, carpentry, G scale model railroading, and electrical expertise. More information is on our Web site: www.freemanstation.ca/llrd

Return to the Front page

Resident expresses an opinion that appears to be held by many - when 194 of 213 parents in a school sign a petition - the numbers have to tell you something. Might be something the ward trustee would make a note of.

opinionandcommentBy Tony Brecknock

October 30th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Resident expresses an opinion that appears to be held by many – when 194 of 213 parents in a school sign a petition – the numbers have to tell you something.  Might be something the ward trustee would make a note of.

In 2009 Lester B. Pearson high school didn’t appear to be targeted – or did it? The sudden rush to build Frank D. Hayden Secondary School, and the need to fill it too, without a doubt led to the sacrifice of Lester B Pearson high school. The following are the actual utilization (UTZ) numbers for 2008/9, along with projections.

In the 2009 Application numbers, Pearson was at 120.2% UTZ and fell to 90.3% UTZ in 18/19 – neither a radical change, nor a tip-off to later. Lester B Pearson enrollment went from 768 to 577. This is more than sustainable.

M.M. Robinson band - both popular and energetic.

M.M. Robinson band – popular and energetic. Their school was spared serious consideration for closure when the data suggests they should have been looked at.

It would appear that MM Robinson high school wasn’t even considered for closure, why? MM Robinson high school (MMR) was at 93.7% and fell to 53.4%. Enrollment went from 1262 to 719. Why was MMR spared?

All the others are as noted in the 2009 records, and Robert Bateman high school is given the lowest UTZ at 43.9%, projected in 18/19. and seems targeted, as it is bolded in red in the application numbers, but still has 588 students, down from 1327. Perhaps with its’ regional programs the Halton District School Board (HDSB) feels it is an easier target with moveable student sections. This would indicate that the HDSB did not look at the school population as a whole, but rather at the school/students as segments to be moved at will.

Note that in the 2009 Application numbers, the UTZ projections are more muted than in the PAR numbers, with Central, MMR, and Bateman all below Board targets of 65%.

Pearson is again at 90%, and Nelson is at almost 96%.

In the recent 2016/17 PAR data, things change to Pearson parent’s alarm. From the sudden removal of Kilbride students and their redirection to Hayden, to what was just the beginning of the intentional depletion of Pearson’s student body – what happened here between the application projections, and the PAR numbers?

What else except the building of Frank J. Hayden Secondary School and the HDSB planned draining of students to fill it? Choices were made on who got hit, and that changed the numbers. Why then, were school trustee Peggy Russell’s warnings ignored that Hayden’s build would create the exact situation we found ourselves in?

These planning choices were made by the HDSB in advance, and were not really on the agenda for the parents.

This raised the issue that these choices should have been on the table if the PAR for Frank J. Hayden secondary school was done when, and as it should have been, prior to the decision to proceed with the build of Hayden was made, sometime before 2008/09.

Absent the performance of this PAR, it appears to me, that no one wants to be held accountable for this decision, and for erroneous or short-term planning which causes long-term ramifications. So it is reasonable that parents and members of the community are arguing for the need for transparency and accountability for this.

HDSB Parents at PARC 1 Jan 26-17

Parents from Central, Pearson and Bateman high schools were active observers in the PAR process.

Parent engagement on these choices could have been enabled by not structuring the PAR process the way it was by the HDSB. This structure mostly consisted of various closing scenarios and this pitted parents against parents. Only one option was about no closures, but this was overshadowed by 19 plus options in total, mostly about closures.

At outside PAR meetings, consensus said it should have been done differently, to avoid the conflicts that were built in. It was felt that something like opening it up to the PARC and parents, describing the problem as a whole, and asking for options and possible solutions to solve the problem, would make sense and that kind of process would work for parents.

Board school utilization - justificationInstead, the HDSB predetermined ahead of time what the problem was – low utilization and surplus seats – but would never acknowledge that this was caused by them in their deliberate plans and concealing of the facts. In fact, the PARC members were presented with the problem of which school(s) to close as their starting point, not as one of their potential outcomes.

sweg

Hayden high school is part of a complex that includes a library and a recreation centre plus a dozen portable classrooms. Many believe that the opening of Hayden resulted in the need to close Pearson.

So, the HDSB’s “solution” was to close schools in the south to eliminate the surplus seats and overcrowding they created by building a new school in the north without a Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) to analyze and determine current and future needs in an open and transparent way. This did not work for parents, created crisis and conflict, and as such, the evidence of this presented by Lester B. Pearson and Robert Bateman high school parents was successful in convincing the Ontario Ministry of Education to conduct an Administrative Review.

This confirms that the appeal for an Administrative Review has merit, the PAR conducted late was inadequate, and the process followed did not accord with the PAR policies. This was a main effect of not having the PAR before the build of Hayden.

The HDSB made the decisions on allocating the enrollment before the PAR. In these PAR-based numbers, Lester B. Pearson high school goes from 112% UTZ in 2010 (actuals) to 61% in 2016, and to 50% in 2025. Big swing here from 90.3%. MM Robinson goes from 87% to 53% to 46% over the same time. Robert Bateman continues to fare the worst on UTZ – all the numbers are available.

central-stusdents-in-sanata-claus-paradeSo, Robert Bateman high school was chosen as well, and it appears that having had Central high school as the focus early on in the PAR process, was simply in an effort to create a distraction from the real agenda. What were the UTZ numbers, and arguments, that changed the initial closure of Central to Bateman?

I also wish to note, that somewhere between the 2008/09 application, and the PAR data presented in 2016/17 to justify two Burlington high school closures, Lester B. Pearson’s numbers were slashed in UTZ from 90.3% by 18/19 in the 2009 application, to 55% in 2020, then 50% by 2025 in the PAR numbers. Student numbers went from 577 to 319.

pearson-high-school-signIn addition, there is no explanation – it was a subjective HDSB decision. As you know, with the changes made in boundaries, feeders and programs, Lester B. Pearson was chosen to close, with premeditation…..as was Robert Bateman.

These policy changes were recognized as a key finding of our meeting as possible solutions that existed if partial reversals were undertaken. However, these changes were never seriously considered, as the HDSB was fixated on the empty seats and low utilization that they had themselves created. The HDSB never considered the actual board’s own data put forward by a community and the PARC members, looking at enrollment, and how the student experience and program offerings, depended on optimal allocation of enrollment, not maximizing utilization.

This fixation was apparent right to the final discussion and debate by Trustees at a Board meeting near the end. Options put forward, or questioned about, were dismissed by HDSB staff as not getting rid of all the surplus seats.

Incidentally, this dismissal was made by the same staff member that had supported, back in 2009, the building of these very same surplus seats through the build of Frank J. Hayden secondary school without a PAR analysis. It was suggested that since this enrollment focused option was factual, and based on the actual data from the Halton District School Board, it thus needed to be explored before a decision was made. But written delegations to support this analysis were ignored.

Remarkably, some Trustees had already written a school closing speech, and read it aloud, expressing their support of the decision to close our schools, prior to the final decision vote.

Voting by hand

The night the school board voted to close two of its seven Burlington high schools the meeting went so late that the vote recording software had gone off line and the votes were done by the raising of hands.

The final deciding vote was was made on the same night as more delegations were presented (against HDSB’s own 10 day procedural rule). Written delegation statements read that night had been prepared, submitted, and approved to present by Chairman Amos. So how much input did the final delegates even have?

This violation of HDSB policy, should without a doubt negate the final vote as they did not comply with their own rules.

The Pupil Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) really didn’t have much say in solving the real problem, as a member of the community put it, of optimally allocating the enrollment, and having that as a key discussion option on the PAR table. They did not get to communicate directly with the school trustees or vice-versa. All conversations or information was filtered through the board. Some PARC members certainly were hindered in sharing information with the community, all of which were PAR requirements.

It seems that the chief characteristic of this 2016/17 PAR is the planned sacrifice of two Burlington high schools, for a school planned and built without any PAR, in the north.

This was guaranteed to breed crisis and conflict, as it did.

So you see…..“There Is Merit To The Administrative Review”

Brecknock TonyTony Brecknock is a Burlington resident who is passionate about the school in his neighborhood that his School Board has decided to close. Mr Brecknock believes the Board is being less than candid with the people it is in place to serve and has set out his opinion on the Administrative Review that is now taking place.

Return to the Front page

The natives are restless - Pearson high school parents think they have figured out what the school board is up to in closing their school.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 30th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is no better news source than a citizen who has a vested interest in an issue – they are like a dog with a bone – they don’t stop chewing.

Parents from the Lester B. Pearson high school have been following events at the Halton District School Board very carefully – they think they have figured out what the Board is up to with the decision to close their community school.

On Wednesday October 18th, Stuart Miller, Director of Education was asked by Ward 4 trustee Amy Collard if he would expand on an article published by the Gazette in which we said the school board was well along with its thinking about how they would build a new administrative Centre.

A resident wrote us saying: “I watched with interest the Halton District School Board (HDSB) Trustee meeting of Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017 and in particular the question asked by Trustee Amy Collard to the HDSB Director of Education. Below are the question by trustee Collard and edited responses by Director Miller, Superintendent Veerman and Superintendent Cullen.

Collard and Miller

Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard glares at the Director of Education Stuart Miller during a very contentious debate.

Trustee Amy Collard questions: “… there was an article published two weeks ago, perhaps a little more than that, about the new administration building. And I was wondering if I could get some more information about how far we are along with this process and where the funding for that building comes from. Because there seems to be some concern that the funding comes from areas where the students might benefit from and if there will be any type of community consultation … and just what the steps are going forward and when we anticipate seeing the next report on this?”

In several of the paragraphs that follow the writer has kept the pauses that were part of the answer.

miller-stuart-onlineDirector of Education Miller responds: “… I read the article as well … and there is … ah … it is not … there are inaccuracies in it. Ah … we are prohibited from taking money that would be for student use …ah … prohibited from using proceeds of disposition … all those things to use for an admin. Centre. We can’t use any of these funds to build an education admin center.”

Lucy-Veerman

Superintendent Lucy Veerman

Superintendent Veerman states: “… any funding for new buildings would have to come from the sale of existing higher administrative buildings or anything that is not school related.”

Superintendent Cullen states: “… the … ah … status of that … as you recall we have been working on the original outline scope plan … in … in … broad-brush strokes around me. Some of the comments in the article … ah … again were inaccurate around the need for a … ah … new building in terms of the population of the staff currently and in the future. And that again was all outlined in the staff report not the article referred to.”

Trustee Collard asks a follow up question: “Is it perhaps … um … prudent to communicate as to the community that how such a building would be funded and perhaps engage the community a little bit on this?”

Director Miller replies: “… we discussed that and we suggested it is probably not prudent … um … at this point, … because I think it just … it stays out there for a longer period of time and I think … ah … we end up in debates about it … and so …”.

“I have attached a link – you can follow the conversation. might see the responses.”

Our writer adds: “Here is an interesting inaccuracy that ought to be pointed out:

“The questions by Trustee Collard to Director Miller and responses shown above are not reported, summarized or mentioned in the Trustee Questions and Comments 5.8 section of the Oct. 18th , 2017 Minutes of the Halton School Board Trustees meeting.

“Was the article Trustee Collard refers to “being published 2 weeks ago or perhaps before that” from the Burlington Gazette published on October 7th, 2017 and titled “Is there a link between the closing of two Burlington high schools and the plans for a new administration office?”

“The Oct. 7th article for the most part quotes the Halton District School Board: Accommodation Study for Long Term Administrative Office Needs which can be found appended to Feb. 17, 2016, Board Agenda and Minutes on Pages 61 through 91 (assigned HDSB Report 16038 dated January 29, 2016).

“I believe the only inaccuracy was the typographical error of the date of the HDSB meeting minutes of February 2017 instead of February 2016.

“I am surprised, that Director Miller mentioned “… I read the article as well … and there is … ah … it is not … there are inaccuracies in it.” Typically when inaccuracies are mentioned the inaccuracy is identified. However, it makes me wonder due to the speech pattern and stumbling of Director Miller whether the inaccuracies occurred at all or if this was an attempt to discredit without evidence the article? The same applies to Superintendent Cullen … “Some of the comments in the article … ah … again were inaccurate around the need for a … ah … new building …”.

“The article to which Trustee Collard referred did not state where the money was coming from so again, I wonder why amount of concern by the Director and staff other than answering Trustee Collard’s question?

“Remember: all the HDSB money comes originally from the taxpayer and therefore all assets belong to the taxpayer.

“Is this an attempt to deflect from the chutzpah (unmitigated gall or audacity are other terms that could be used to describe the spin the Director tried to put on this matter) of closing two Burlington high schools, then building a $29.6 Million administrative facility and stating “This is not a question of quantity of space, but rather of quality of space.” and “… and in turn, create a facility that reflects the Board’s values, resulting in the delivery of the highest quality education for the Board’s students.”

Those Pearson parents are like a dog with a bone – they don’t stop chewing.

Article on the Board of Education thinking about a new administrative building.

 

Return to the Front page

Ministry of Education sets out where it wants to go with a review of how the decision to close a school is made by a school board.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is a little like closing the barn door with the horses already out and on the run but “better late than never” is perhaps an appropriate phrase to describe the provincial government decision to take another look at the way the decision to close schools are made.

In a media release the Ministry of Education said it was committed to revising its Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline (PARG) and Community Planning and Partnerships Guideline (CPPG).

“We heard that there is a need to strengthen the pupil accommodation review process for all school boards and to better encourage joint responsibility for integrated community planning across Ontario” said Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education..

“Through this process, we will make certain that:

Utilization levels high schools

The Halton District School Board set out utilization numbers in their initial report that many parents looked questioned. The Ministry wants to see better information made available to the public.

“We are placing an emphasis on open and effective communication and partnership between school boards and communities;

“Decisions about the future of our schools consider a range of community and student impacts; and that Boards work collaboratively to consider joint-use solutions where possible.”

The Ministry statement pertained to both Pupil Accommodation Review and Guideline Community Planning and Partnerships Guidelines; this report will focus on just the Pupil Accommodation Review and the decision-making around school closures.

The ministry’s proposed revisions to the PAR aim to create a stronger, more collaborative process that better promotes student achievement and well-being and better recognizes the impact of school closures. The ministry proposes to achieve this by considering the elements.

PARC public - Dec 8 - 16

Public meeting participants responding to questions that we put on on a screen – Many felt that the questions were skewed from the get go and they began to mistrust the Board from the very first meting.

Revising Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) timeframes:

Extending the current minimum PAR timeframe beyond five months;

Eliminating the minimum modified PAR timeframe of three months; and/or

Further extending time-frames under specific circumstances, such as if new closure recommendations are added mid-way through the accommodation review process.

Gerry Cullen

Superintendent of Facilities Gerry Cullen provided data that he admittedly found confusing – it was the best they could do at the time – the Ministry appears to be suggesting that school boards will have to do better.

Introducing minimum requirements for the initial staff report by requiring school boards to include:

At least three accommodation options (a recommended option, an alternative option and a status quo option).

Information on how accommodation options will impact:

School board budget;
Student programming /achievement;
Student well-being; and
Community and/or economic impact.

Promoting community input in the PAR processes by requiring:

School boards to invite elected municipal representatives and municipal staff to a meeting to discuss the initial staff report;

School boards to disclose municipal participation / non-participation in PAR and Community Planning and Partnership (CPP) processes;

A broader role for trustees throughout the PAR process, beyond ad hoc membership of Accommodation Review Committees, hearing public delegations and making the final decision; and

A participatory role for secondary student representatives in PARs involving secondary schools.

Reforming the PAR administrative review process by:

Extending the time frame to submit an administrative review petition from 30 to 60 calendar days; and
Reviewing the signature thresholds and requirements for launching an administrative review request.

Developing ministry supports, such as:

A PAR toolkit to standardize type and format of initial staff report information;

A template for use by community partners to engage boards with proposed alternatives to school closures or other proposals for community use of schools; and

New support for the review and validation of initial staff report information and community proposals by independent third parties.

The public consultation on revising the Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline will be conducted in two phases:

Phase 1: Discussion Questions

The first phase of the consultation will focus on collecting feedback on the areas of change listed above, as well as other proposed changes to the PARG.  This phase will run from October 12, to December 6, 2017.

Phase 2: Revisions and Editing

In January 2018, the ministry will post a draft of the revised pupil accommodation review guideline and community planning and partnerships guideline for further public feedback.

This draft will be informed by what we heard during Phase 1. The ministry will also post a summary of all Phase 1 feedback.

The Ministry is asking the public for input:

Do you think the ministry’s proposed revisions to the PARG will create a stronger, more collaborative process?

If not, why? Are there other elements the ministry should consider?

If yes, do you have suggested improvements or comments on the elements being proposed?

Do you think the above measures to support improved coordination of community infrastructure planning will work to promote sustainable use of school space in communities?

If not, why? Are there other elements the ministry should consider?

If yes, do you have suggested improvements or comments on the elements being proposed?

When making decisions about school infrastructure within communities, what measures could be conducive to fostering collaboration and cooperation between municipalities and school boards?

Pubmeet politicians BL-JT-PS

Several of the public meetings were packed – there were city council members at the meetings – there was a public that wanted information. They don’t feel they got what they were entitled to.

To submit your thoughts and ideas on revising the PARG please send your feedback with the subject line “Revising the PARG and CPPG” to information.met@ontario.ca.

These are very wide ranging proposed changes.  Had they been place in October of 2016 when the Halton District School Board announced it was going to hold a PAR would the outcome have been  any different?

The public would certainly have had much better information.  The Gazette works from the assumption that an informed public can make informed decisions.

Return to the Front page

DeGroote School of Business putting on a luncheon focused on digital marketing - December 1st

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

October 30, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Digital marketing is more than a buzzword, but it’s also not a replacement for your traditional marketing efforts.

It’s a new approach that’s disrupting the industry by changing how you connect with your customers.

Something is brewing between the city and the University campus on the South Service Road. Mayor wasn't ready to let that cat out of the bag this morning.

Something is brewing between the city and the University campus on the South Service Road. Mayor wasn’t ready to let that cat out of the bag this morning.

The McMaster University DeGroote School of Business is putting on a presentation that will take place at the Ron Joyce Centre on Friday, December 1.

The panel of experts will be discussing and answering questions on topics such as:

Practical tips for using digital marketing strategically.
How to stay competitive in a digital economy.
The integration of traditional and digital marketing.
How to position and prepare content for multiple platforms.
How to build an authentic brand.
The challenges of managing digital properties.

Click HERE to register – $35 – includes lunch

The event is open to alumni, business community members, and students.

Return to the Front page

Board of Education sends the Ministry of Education a pretty chippy response on the way Administrative Reviews are handled - but agrees to cooperate.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District school board sent the Minister of Education what can only be seen as a pretty direct set of statements on the way they see an Administrative Review of decisions they made being handled.

The decision the Board of Education made last June was something parents could ask to have reviewed. Any review however was limited to the process the board followed and not the actual decision made by the trustees.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Bateman high school parents and students protesting the decision to close their school.

Parents from both the Lester B. Pearson high school and the Robert Bateman high school filed requests for Administrative Reviews. Of the twelve school groups across the province only the two in Burlington had review requests that were granted.

Read it all for yourself.  The letter is the Board’s response to the request for an Administrative Review made by both the Pearson high and and Bateman high school parent groups.

We are writing in response to the request received on July 6, 2017, for an administrative review of the program and accommodation review (“PARN) process undertaken for the secondary schools located in the City of Burlington which resulted in a resolution of the Halton District School Board (“HDSB”) to close Lester B.Pearson High School effective June 30, 2018.

HDSB staff were able to verify that 194 of 213 supporters who signed the petition are parents of students from the Lester B. Pearson High School community or participated in the program and accommodation review process. This represents approximately 49% of the June 30, 2017 headcount (397).

PAR bannerThe PAR was initiated on October 19, 2016, with the Director’s Preliminary Report being presented to the Board of Trustees at a regular Board meeting On June 7, 2017. Approximately eight months
later, trustees approved motions regarding the Burlington Secondary Schools PAR, which included the closure of Lester B. Pearson High School effective June 30, 2018.

At the outset we believe it is important to establish the parameters and ground rules of a Ministry administrative review of the HDSB’s decision to close Lester B. Pearson High School. The purpose of an administrative review is to allow an objector to challenge a school board’s decision to close an operating school on the sole ground that the board’s conduct of a PAR did not comply with the board’s PAR policy.

Voting by hand

School Board trustees voting to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

In the context of an administrative review, it is not open to a complainant to challenge the merits or reasonableness of a decision to close or not close a particular school. The trustees of a school board are elected to make those difficult policy decisions and the Ministry should not interfere with the proper exercise of a board’s discretion to use that power, which is granted under Section 171{1), paragraph 7 of the Education Act. Rather, the scope of a Ministry administrative review is limited to challenging a board’s decision to close a school on the narrow ground that the school board did not follow its PAR policy in undertaking the PAR process.

The merits of the HDSB’s decision to close Lester B. Pearson High School is beyond the ambit of a Ministry administrative review. The focus of this exercise is not whether the decision to close Lester B. Pearson High School was reasonable or financially prudent. Instead, the Ministry’s inquiry should be directed to the issue of whether the Board generally complied with the PAR policy in arriving at the decision to close the school. In order to succeed on this application for an administrative review, the complainant must establish a compelling case that (i} there was non-compliance with the PAR policy and (ii) the non-compliance was material such that the Board would likely have reached a different decision.

It is instructive to review the Board’s statutory authority to close a school. Section 171(1), paragraph 7 of the Education Act reads as follows:

171 (1) A board may,

 “… determine the number and kind of schools to be established and maintained and the attendance area for each school, and close schools in accordance with policies established by the board from guidelines issued by the Minister. “

It is clear from this provision that the organization and conduct of a PAR is to be based on a Board policy that is derived from a Ministry guideline. It is a policy based on a guideline. Strict adherence to such a policy is thus not required given the very nature of policies and guidelines, which are considered general rules and flexible. Strict adherence would be required, however, if a PAR were governed by the provisions of the Education Act or a regulation made under that legislation. It is therefore sufficient if the process undertaken for Robert Bateman High School maintained the spirit and intent of the Board’s PAR policy. We are confident that the PAR process in this case more than satisfies that standard.

The arguments raised by the complainant, although framed as process related challenges, are in substance debating the merits of the Board’s decision.

The Board of Education provided a detailed response to the complaint filed by each parents group.  They are extensive and will be set out in a seperate news report.

Return to the Front page

Prime Minister announces a new tax program for the country's working class.

News 100 redBy Staff

October 29, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Prime Minister was in town.

He spent a couple of hours at the YMCA meeting with people who are taking part in a YMCA Employment Services program and then making an announcement that has national implications.
Burlington is now a Liberal friendly city and the crowds were adoring.

DSC00481

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being greeted at the Burlington YMCA

These Prime Ministerial tours are major productions with support teams that that amount to more than 25 people.

Security is thick – but not obtrusive.

For the first time in my experience I saw RCMP officers carrying rifles in special back backs that don’t give away what is inside them – these men are sharp shooters.

Easily ten plain clothes police – they are ranked by how close they can get to the Prime Minister. Each wear a button – a pin in their lapel – red ones mean they get close – they surround the PM – you have to get past them to get near the PM. The black ones are at the rear of the room.

There is always one, usually a nervous looking young man standing right beside the PM. It is a well-orchestrated event.

The first part of the visit had the Prime Minister in the lower level of the YMCA talking one on one with people taking part in the YMCA Employment Services program

As structured as the event itself was the Prime Minister didn’t seem to be WORD – he walked into the room – no one said a word – there was no applause. He was greeted by the head of the YMCA and asked a few questions and then began talking to the dozen or so people who were enrolled in the Employment Services program. Each was sitting in front of a computer monitor so the Prime Minister dropped to a squat and was able to talk directly – eye to eye to each person.

PM with students Oct 2017He spent a good fifteen minutes going from person to person – asking what they were looking for in the way of work and the kind of help they were getting.

It was quiet – the only thing that made it a bit unreal was the dozens of photographers and television camera operators hovering.

There was no grandstanding on the part of the PM – he was just in the room talking to people. His communications support people – there were easily six – maybe eight of them – were everywhere paying attention to the details – there had to be a glass of water at the podium and it had to be in a clear glass. .

When all the students had been talked to the PM said a few words and headed for another room where there was a group of about 75 people, all invited, in a room that had Canadian Flags and a backdrop of Canadian flags and a podium for the Prime Minister to speak from.

Justin Trudeau at YMCA

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meeting and greeting at the Burlington YMCA

Television cameras from every network in the country were lined up. The PM announced a 2019 federal investment of $500 million toward the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB).

Trudeau also announced a 2019 federal investment of $500 million toward the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB). The Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) will help those folks who are working hard to make ends meet and who are still struggling at the lower end of the income scale.”

With the speeches done the Prime Minister chatted with the invited guests then headed into the foyer of the YMCA where there were close to 100 people waiting to see him. Babies were held up for a Prime Ministerial kiss – two that we saw – and then out into the street where vehicles were waiting.

To ensure that this was a truly Burlington event there was one lone protester holding up a Save Bateman sign.

Return to the Front page

Board of education has put out a call to all the three year olds - pay the school a visit and learn what you will be doing for the foreseeable future.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 27th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Beginning school is a big step for parents and children. The Halton District School Board wants to make that transition as smooth as possible.

Students at Lincoln Centennial public school. Ontario school boards are struggling to find low-cost options to school additions to accommodate full-day kindergarten. Some options may include bussing kids. Reading are Heyley Ta and Zeynep Coskan-Johnson. Feb 21 2013. Bob TYmczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/QMI AGENCY

Inquiring minds

Throughout November, three-year olds and their parents/guardians are invited to attend one of four Kindergarten Open Houses to learn about starting school next year.

Drop by any one of the following open houses between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Georgetown Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 — Park PS (6 Hyde Park Dr.)
Burlington Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 – Bruce T. Lindley PS (2510 Cavendish Dr.)
Milton Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 – Tiger Jeet Singh PS (650 Yates Dr.)
Oakville Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 – West Oak PS (2071 Fourth Line)

At the Open House, families will:

• Explore a Kindergarten classroom
• Learn about play-based learning
• Pick up information and resource material in a free backpack
• Access information about community agencies and resources in Halton
• Get information about before and after school care
• Connect with special education staff to discuss any developmental concerns

Children born in 2014 can start Kindergarten in September 2018.

Registration for Kindergarten begins in January 2018 and takes place at the school your child will attend.

Return to the Front page