Pearson high school parents file a request for an Administrative Review of the Board decision to close their school.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 11th, 2017


Revised at 9:30 am Tuesday morning.

The June 7th decision to close two of the city’s seven high schools stunned parents with children in both schools. Many saw it as an inevitable decision – few expected the 10-1 vote for the staff recommendation.

There were two different votes:

Bateman’s vote was 10-1
The Lester B. Pearson vote was 8-3 with the ward trustee Papin voting for non-closure.

The two high schools had different stories to tell: Lester B. Pearson was being starved of students from the feeder schools and Bateman had a great story which few people knew that much about. When the Board Director of Education decided to change his position on which high school should be closed (Bateman instead of his first decision – Central high school – there wasn’t enough time for them to get their story out and sway the 11 elected trustees who made the decision.

Protest outside board office

The Pearson parents fought against the closing of their school – they did so without the support of their trustee who never did commit herself to saying she would do everything she could to keep the school open. In the end she voted to close Bateman but to keep Pearson open.  It was the first time her constituents got to see her do anything for them.

Parents at each school decided to seek an Administrative Review of the decision made by the trustees.

A request to have a decision reviewed can be made by filing a request if the the following conditions are met:

Demonstrate the support of a portion of the school community through the completion of a petition signed by a number of supporters equal to at least 30% of the affected school’s student headcount (e.g., if the headcount is 150, then 45 signatures would be required). Parents/guardians of students and/or other individuals that participated in the accommodation review process are eligible to sign the petition1

The petition should clearly provide a space for individuals to print and sign their name; address (street name and postal code); and to indicate whether they are a parent/guardian of a student attending the school subject to the accommodation review, or an individual who has participated in the review process.

Submit the petition and justification to the school board and the Minister of Education within thirty (30) days of the board’s closure resolution.

The school board would be required to:

Confirm to the Minister of Education that the names on the petition are parents/guardians of students enrolled at the affected school and/or individuals who participated in the review process.

Prepare a response to the individual’s or individuals’ submission regarding the process and forward the board’s response to the Minister of Education within thirty (30) days of receiving the petition.

If the conditions set out above have been met, the Ministry would be required to:

Undertake a review by appointing a facilitator to determine whether the school board accommodation review process was undertaken in a manner consistent with the board’s accommodation review policy within thirty (30) days of receiving the school board’s response.

What Steve Armstrong, part of the driving force behind the request, is saying is that the Board failed to follow its own Program Accommodation Review (PAR) rules

He sets out the position and the views of the Lester B. Pearson parents on just how the PAR process failed the community.

We have greatly exceeded the number of signatures required in support of asking for this review.

Eric who PARC

Steve Armstrong was not only a consistent advocate foe keeping the school open but also provided some of the best data, superior to that o the Board staff, that supported keeping the school open.

As a former Programming and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) member I can attest first hand to many of the details in what follows.

Armstrong says he believes the intent of the PAR process was to have meaningful consultation with the communities involved and that in this regard the process failed.

He then sets out 16 different sections of the PAR policy and proceeds to set out where his community believes the Board failed.

We have set out those 16 points below along with details that WORD

What makes this particularly relevant is that the provincial Ministry of Education has admitted that there were flaws in the PAR process and put a hold on all future PAR proceedings.

That hold did not apply to the decision by the Halton Board that had already been made.

The parents at Bateman were preparing a request for an Administrative Review as well. Communication with the Bateman community is somewhat limited.

Here is the Pearson application

1) The board’s policy states:

Processes for decision‐making including those related to program, accommodation, school boundary reviews, school closures/consolidations will be timely, inclusive, transparent and open.

As will be elaborated further in the discussions below examples of a lack of timeliness, inclusivity, transparency and openness, have each been demonstrated during this process.

2) The board’s policy states:

The HDSB is committed to sharing relevant information with the public and affording affected school communities and stakeholders the opportunity for input.

Some community members sought to access information from the Board they felt was relevant to the issues at hand. Those efforts were met with roadblocks, and in one case even after filing a Freedom of Information request the results yielded an incomplete picture of the information being sought. A Trustee offered up, during delegation by that individual, that she would have gotten it for him had she known. Clearly there are inconsistent messages being sent.

3) The board’s policy states:

The HDSB will invite parents, students and staff from the school(s) under review and the broader community to participate in the pupil accommodation review process.

The PARC members took seriously their responsibility to interact with their communities, but were excluded from various process steps that would have helped facilitate those conversations.

From Director Miller’s letter to the Students on Oct 27, 2016 (a copy of the entire letter can be found in Appendix B)

As high school students your opinion is valued. The decisions made by the PAR committee will profoundly impact your school experience and those who follow you. In the new year, the PAR committee will gather feedback from Burlington high school students. We want to hear your voice!

Student at Feb 9 PARC

Director of Education Stuart Miller listens to a student from Bateman speak – then later revised his recommendation to close the school.

The above paragraph erroneously setup the expectation that PARC members where making the decisions, when in fact it is the Trustees who have sole responsibility for the final call. The comment that PARC members would be gathering feedback in the new year set up an expectation that there would be interaction once the committee was up and running. Against the desires of many PARC members there was in fact no such opportunities. The student survey was conducted in December of 2016 before the PARC could review or suggest modifications to any questions. The PARC, and ultimately the Trustees, were left with only the data generated based on what HDSB thought was relevant. No opportunity to further explore the outcomes of the survey were permitted.

Likewise, the teacher/staff survey was sent out early in January before the PARC had its first working meeting.

Again no chance to shape the questions, seek follow up information, and ultimately no results were made available to either the PARC or Public at large. When asked on April 26th by a Trustee during the initial presentation of the Director’s Final Report draft where the Staff Survey results quoted in the report were, it was stated that the results contained information that would have to be heavily redacted. Ultimately the information was shared only privately with the Trustees. The PARC members and public were never given insight from this important stakeholder group.

Students doing survey

On line survey response was available at one of the public meetings – the problem was that the data was badly compromised with the wide open response process voting – people could respond as often as they wished.

The final online survey for community input was taken following the third public meeting. PARC members had asked to be involved in setting those questions, and initially were told that would be possible. Ultimately the questions were frozen without PARC input, and the results didn’t inquire on aspects we felt important to seek input on.

4) The board’s policy states:

Prior to establishing a pupil accommodation review, the Director will present to the Board of Trustees a preliminary report that identifies a school or group of schools that may be considered for a Program and

Accommodation Review (PAR) if one or more of the following conditions apply:

● The school or group of schools has experienced or will experience declining enrolment where the On the Ground (OTG) utilization rate is below 65%;

● Reorganization involving the school or group of schools could enhance program delivery and learning opportunities for students;

Much of this PAR process has centered around utilization rates of the individual high schools. The HDSB PAR policy uses a 65% Utilization rate as a trigger threshold for review. This threshold is not something that appears in the Ministry guidelines, and in fact has caused much confusion to both the PARC members and community. Given that the overall utilization in Burlington is currently sitting at 75%, and will reach 80% by 2020, this fact alone raised concerns among many as to why Burlington was undertaking a PAR itself.

Underutilization is mostly an economic factor and has little direct impact on the student experience. This stands in contrast to under enrolment which does have significant impact, mainly felt in the number of student programming options available. Conversely over utilization does have a negative impact on the student experience, especially when facilities are pushed beyond they’re total capacity. This condition exists at Dr. Frank J Hayden (Hayden) high school which is a one of the schools included in this review.

Throughout the process declining enrollment was highlighted as the root cause of all the problems.

The graph below plots the actual enrollment numbers as well as the projections from the yearly LTAPs going back to 2006

Burlington Enroll proj Graph #1

Steve Armstrong produced data that the Board didn’t refuse, showing enrollment overall had shifted and appeared to be rising.

What clearly jumps out is that for the last 2 years Burlington’s overall enrollment has in fact, been increasing, and will continue to do so for the next number of years.

The closure of Pearson and Bateman will leave approximately 5300 student places available. One can easily see the projected enrollment over the next 10 year period will be in excess of this remaining capacity.

During the PARC process the question was raised as to the accuracy of the projections. The official response was “that historically the projections have been very accurate”. A statement that is clearly not supported by the evidence. Many of the conclusions, and recommendations, have been made by focusing on the furthest point out in the projections. This data point that has in fact been historically the least accurate.

The second part of the highlighted policy concerns reorganizing to enhance programming options.

When PARC members tried to get answers as to how much better the student experience would be after closing a school or two we were always given a generic answer that failed to quantify the improvements.

Course offerings Graph #2

Below 700 students course options are strongly effected by enrollment, at rate of 15 courses per 100 students of change. Above critical mass the benefits of larger enrollment on the number of course options is drastically smaller.

An analysis of the SIP data much later in the process finally shed some light on the specifics and is shown above.

The data suggests that there is a critical mass that occurs around the 700 student enrollment point. Below 700 students course options are strongly effected by enrollment, at rate of 15 courses per 100 students of change. Above critical mass the benefits of larger enrollment on the number of course options is drastically smaller. What makes this very interesting is that if Burlington’s current enrollment was evenly spread over the 7 high schools there would be 780 students per school, certainly above critical mass.

Taken together these observations call into question some of the statements repeated during discussions that ultimately shaped opinions and presumably decisions.

Some of this information was present as a delegation, and the later part was only allowed to be shared as an email to individual Trustees. The process certainly has flaws. The complete document discussing these two issues can be found in Appendix C.

5) The board’s policy states:

The report must also include information on actions taken by school board staff prior
to establishing a pupil accommodation review process and supporting rationale as to any actions taken or not taken

Both the Ministry guidelines and the HDSB PAR policy talk of re balancing school enrollments in response to changing enrollments. Of the 19 Options originally developed by the Board only one explored keeping all schools open. That Option simply used capping of enrollment at Hayden to lessen the overcrowding crisis present there.

Twelve of the original nineteen options called for closing Pearson despite its’ proximity to Hayden, and completely ignored the fact that boundary changes to Pearson’s previous catchment are the root cause of Pearson’s declining enrollment. Those boundary changes were made when Hayden was opened and ultimately are now contributing to Hayden’s problems.

The Director’s Initial Report is silent on all actions taken or not taken before this process was started. Clearly the Board had awareness of the issues surrounding both Pearson and Hayden and has failed to take any corrective action, or provide the required information.

When asked by a Trustee on June 7th, the Director responded that his team had looked at boundary changes for Pearson but simply couldn’t find a scenario that fixed the problems. This is troubling in that it came up on the evening of the decision and not as an input to the PAR process as required in the PAR policy.

Additionally, it should be noted that community members had no problems developing multiple suggestions that were presented to Trustees during delegations or in emails sent directly to them. The conclusion is that neither the Board or Trustees spent much time deliberating on community inputs in opposition to their mandates.

6) The board’s policy states:

If new capital investment is required as a result of the pupil accommodation review, how the school board intends to fund this, as well as a proposal on how students would be accommodated if funding does not become available;

While this is listed as a requirement for the Director’s Initial report the original recommendation did not require significant capital outlay as City wide utilization was projected to only reach 100% of capacity.

The updated recommendations in the Final report will push overall utilization up to 110% of capacity which when combined with specialized program moves will require significant Capital funding.

The Final Report fails to explain how students would be accommodated if funding were denied.

7) The board’s policy states:

The PARC will review the completed School Information Profile(s) and have the opportunity to discuss and consult thereon.

PARC members identified a variety of errors in the first set of SIPs provided by board staff. Some of these data were corrected, but even after a second major release many issues remain. There was great concern expressed from PARC members when the projected facilities capital needs grew greatly during the revision process.

Gerry Cullen

Superintendent of Facilities Gerry Cullen kept changing the data in his presentation – no one on the PARC challenged his data.

The Superintendent of Facilities explained that part of the issue was the transition to a new set of data as the Ministry was in the midst of requiring a change to the tool used for capturing capitol requests. Also highlighted by the Superintendent was the fact that forward looking projected costs are somewhat inflated to convey to the Ministry that HDSB always has need for more capital then it receives. Some fraction of the listed items will come to fruition based on actual funding provided.

Ultimately it doesn’t appear that this data was used as part of the decision making process, thus reducing the concerns of PARC members (and the public) to questioning the level of commitment of staff towards data integrity.

8) The board’s policy states:

The PARC acts as the official conduit for information shared between the Board of Trustees and school communities.

The PARC will provide feedback to the Board of Trustees and the community on the options considered in the Director’s Preliminary Report and may, throughout the PAR process, seek clarification of the Director’s Preliminary Report.

These statements imply communication is expected between the Trustees and PARC members. Unfortunately, nothing to this effect was undertaken during the PARC portion of the process. The PAR policy states that Trustees are not required to attend PARC meetings, but are free to do so. Like general members of the public they must sit in the gallery thus eliminating any interaction with PARC members. As many in the public gallery will attest it was difficult to hear the discussions going on.

Packed room - New Street Mar 7-17

There were trustees in the room for this public meeting – the trustee serving as chair literally hid in a corner of the room.

Trustee attendance at the Public meetings was also optional, and tended to usually be just the 4 Burlington Trustees plus the PARC Trustee member.

Trustees had been instructed at the beginning of the process that they were to have limited interaction with PARC, and community members. Participation at School Council meetings or other Community meetings was to be strictly in a listening mode.

Throughout the process, PARC members primary method of interaction with the Trustees was by sending emails, most of which received either no response or a short acknowledgement indicating receipt. The Board’s instructions to the Trustees greatly interfered with any thoughtful dialog. How where their questions raised and answered?

The PAR policy clearly states that PARC will provide feedback to the Board of Trustees. There was no presentation, dialog, or documents created as an output by PARC members. The Director’s Final Report simply itemized the actions undertaken at each meeting, and included the unapproved minutes in an appendix. There was no direct feedback from the PARC, only the basic proof of process.

It seems inappropriate that Trustees would receive instruction from the Board on what they can and cannot do when interacting with the constituents that elected them. The Trustees are not beholden to the Board, it is the other way around.

9) The board’s policy states:

The PARC does not need to achieve consensus regarding the information provided to the Board of Trustees and the Director

The processes used did little to encourage consensus. When a few attempts were made to use an informal show of hands to gauge the degree of any consensus these where quickly shut down by the Chair.

For any sort of meaningful consensus to be achieved all outstanding questions need to be answered, at least to some degree. Multiple times during the PARC meetings the members found themselves being asked to take Options off the table, including at the very first working meeting in January, long before clarity started forming on some of the important concepts in play. In hind sight, the process utilized at the working meetings was inappropriate.

Dot distribution for option 28

Many PARC members had problems with the use of dotmocracy so early in the process.

Discussion about what the real issues to be tackled where, and resolution of questions arising from that work are necessary before anyone should start eliminating Options. The use of a Dotmocracy exercise on the third of seven working meetings was totally inappropriate. The Options being discussed were far from being fully developed, or even the best ones to choose from.

Coming into the PARC working sessions there was a belief held by a number of the members that the Board needed to close schools in Burlington in order to receive funding for building new ones in Milton. This perception was finally laid to rest during the third meeting, but not before the consequences of that mistaken belief had impacted the process. When decisions on what Options should be removed, or added, are based on false information the damage is done. In this case it also was destructive to the collaboration needed in this process as communities had already been pitted against each other to save their school. Unfortunately, this misinformation also existed at the Trustee level as evidenced by the Vice Chair asking for clarification on this same issue during the Board meeting of May 24th. Well into the process and only a short time before the decision was to be made.

10) The board’s policy states:

Members of the PARC will solicit input from the community they represent. The format and process of the input will be discussed once the PARC is formed.

Any information requested or additional options generated by the PARC will be shared through a combination of methods including community meetings, letters to the community, website postings, school newsletters, and media releases.

At the outset of the PAR process the Board had given guidance to school administrators (Principals) concerning the interactions and support to be given during the process. This guidance apparently was not explicit enough to ensure consistent application across the 7 high schools undergoing the PAR.

PARC engagement

Communicating with the members of the PARC was not possible in the very early stages of the PAR – when a process was put in place it seemed convoluted to many.

It wasn’t till the end of the second working meeting that clarity was brought about allowing the board provided PARC member email address to be added to individual school websites, the control of which rests with the school Principal.

The Pearson PARC members were severely disadvantaged in efforts to connect with their community on multiple occasions. While some schools allowed PARC members to send out emails to their specific student / parent database we were denied that channel.

When we tried to engage with teachers and staff we were cut off.

While some schools even allowed community meetings to be held on site Pearson was not. Not only was there inequity in accessing school resources to enable meaningful engagement with our communities, the fundamental premise stated in the policy was not adhered to.

The Pearson PARC team was not provided any practical way to contact, meet or interact with its community. It instead had to rely on the “SaveLBP high school” team as a conduit, along with motivated parents who sought out the PARC email addresses. Neither mechanism ensured the broadest engagement.

11) The board’s policy states:

The secretary of the PARC will be responsible for preparing detailed minutes of all meetings.

Once approved by the PARC, the minutes will be posted on the Board’s website.

Minutes were never approved. Procedurally they were emailed out to PARC members, who invariably requested additions or corrections, some of which were incorporated others of which weren’t. At no time was the committee asked to approve the minutes either during a subsequent working meeting, or by email.

Since the minutes were the only correspondence included in the Director’s Final Report as output from the PARC there is a significant under representation of that group’s thinking.

12) The board’s policy states:

The Board of Trustees encourages PARCs to be clear about the challenges and opportunities being addressed and work actively to identify and promote shared values and interests

This is an area where the PAR process as whole has performed poorly.

When the committee members sought clarity on the specifics of the original challenges and opportunities as presented the answers were generalizations that didn’t quantify either the downsides or upsides. Moving forward making decisions on which Options to continue discussing early on was inappropriate.

13) The board’s policy states: PARC Framework

In respect of the school or group of schools being studied, the PARC will consider, but not
be limited to the following:

Accommodation of students in permanent school facilities and minimal use of portable classrooms;

Balance of overall enrollment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources, and extra‐curricular opportunities and avoid over and under-utilization
of buildings;

Fiscal responsibilities;

The Final Recommendations and decisions made on June 7th leave Dr. Frank J Hayden high school in a significant overcrowding situation over the next 2 years, and are dependent on student/parent choices regarding participation in the optional French Immersion program at MM Robinson high school to bring down the stresses being felt by the students at Hayden in the long term. Over the full 10 year period of the LTAP projections this school is not projected to see its enrollment brought down to the OTG capacity of the building.

Consequently, the decision made will not reduce the use of portables over the next 10 year period. This later aspect deprives the residents of Burlington the full enjoyment of the sports fields, library and community center gymnasiums during the evenings and weekends.

From a fiscal perspective, the decision to close two schools and immediately require $12M (or more) to reproduce what already exists at Bateman clearly calls into question whether the Board and its Trustees have failed to protect the financial interests of Ontario taxpayers in the near term when enrollment is growing. The decisions made also greatly increase the risk of needing further major capitol funding if the current pattern of increasing enrollment projection in the 5 – 10 year horizon continue.

14) The board’s policy states:

The affected local municipality, the Region of Halton, as well as other community partners that expressed an interest prior to the pupil accommodation review will be encouraged to provide their responses on the recommended option(s) in the Director’s Preliminary Report before the final public meeting.

The Ministry guidelines use much stronger language and state that:

Pubmeet politicians BL-JT-PS

City council chose to say little about the possible closing of high schools – in this photograph three of the seven council members took part on a public meeting.

The affected single and upper‐tier municipalities, as well as other community partners that expressed an interest prior to the pupil accommodation review, must provide their response on the recommended option(s) in the school board’s initial staff report before the final public meeting.

Similar requirements surround documenting any relevant information in the Final Report.

The Board has failed on to provide this perspective in any of its reports, including acknowledging letters written by City Councilors opposing the Board recommended closures.

15) The board’s policy states:

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller

The Director’s Final Report will include a community consultation section that contains feedback from the PARC and any public consultations, as well as any relevant information obtained from municipalities and other community partners prior to and during the pupil accommodation review, and for transparency, identifies key considerations in formulating the final recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

The Director will consider all input received in developing recommendations.

Feedback from the public delegations will be compiled and included as information to the Board of Trustees together with the Director’s Final Report.

The Director will present the Final Report, including the compiled feedback from the public delegations, to the Board of Trustees.

The Director’s Final Report is deficient in providing feedback from public delegations, public consultations, and municipalities, thus calling into question how much consideration was given to these inputs if at all.

16) The board’s policy states:

There must be no fewer than ten (10) business days between the date of the public delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees.

Given that public delegations occurred on June 7th, the same evening as the final decision was being made, it is a trivial thought process to see that a clear deviation from the PAR policy occurred.

Given the above policy violation, and the immediacy in which prepared statements were made by Trustees during the decision making portion of the meeting, it is quite clear that thoughtful deliberation could not have occurred.

Trustees - fill board +

The trustees were put in the very difficult position of not having some critical information and at the same time being bombarded by more than 700 emails.

Many Trustees lamented that they had read all the over 700 emails, listened to the numerous voicemail messages, and phone calls received. Combined with the knowledge that the clear majority of this occurred post the PARC phase, and post the release of the draft of the Director’s Final Report, when any questions arising would be answered solely from the Board’s perspective, without any engagement with the community, it becomes easy to understand the appeal of the Board’s recommendations

In summary:

It is consideration of all the above, we the petitioners believe that HDSB did not follow its Programming and Accommodation Review policy, and request that a you undertake an Administrative Review of the process leading up to the decisions made on June 7th, 2017

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Burlington resident relives the day Terry Fox ran through the city - you could feel the electricity in the air, the anticipation was so great.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 7th, 2017



The Gazette got a request from the Burlington Sports Alliance asking if we had any photographs they could use in a celebration of Terry Fox and Courage in Sport at the Art Gallery of Burlington on July 14th at 7:00 pm.

The event is part of the Canada’s 150 celebration with the Burlington Sport Alliance inviting people to show up at the Gallery.

We had a picture in our photo data bank that was given to us a number of years ago by Mark Mulholland who was on Lakeshore Road when Terry Fox ran through the city. We wrote a short piece on that picture which produced a note from John Oakes who was also on the sidewalk waiting for Terry Fox to pass by.

Oakes tell of his experience:

“When I took those photos I was 21 years old and about to start the Applied Photography course at Sheridan College.

“His run of course was followed by all. And I arrived early to get some photos of what was to become historic event. I easily recall that even before he appeared you could feel the electricity in the air, the anticipation was so great.

“I have never experienced anything like that since. The crowd was electric!

“When he came into view, the crowds began cheering increased as he grew closer. People who had been milling about now lined the road, waiving and cheering. People stepped out placing donations in the plastic cup.

“When he waived to me it was an incredible moment I could feel. It conveyed so much. In that flash; how much he appreciated everybody coming out and the agony that he must be in. I could see on his face even making a wave took a lot of effort on his part.

“He was bigger than life. Everybody felt so special as he ran past. To this day making eye contact with him is a wonderfully vivid and everlasting memory.

“Looking at those photos today I can see the Odeon movie theater was still in operation. At least it looks like their marquis sign is still up; you can see the Royal Bank building at Brant Street.

“These pictures are real time capsules now. That prosthetic leg strapped must have been miserable. I remember reading about the chafing and sores he developed.

“Hero’s like him are not made any more.”

The next annual Terry Fox run takes place September 17th – it will be the 37th time that Burlingtonians remember the man that started it all.

terry fox 1 Final

First of a four part photo sequence. Fox is approaching. We get a view of a Burlington that doesn’t exist anymore.

terry fox 2 FINAL

Second photograph in the sequence: Terry Fox is getting closer and, as John Oakes tells the story: the crowd was electric.

terry fox 3 final


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Pearson and Bateman high school parents see a ray of hope in Minister's decision to put a hold on further school closings.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2017



Steve Atkinson, the Lester B. Pearson high school parent, who has worked tirelessly to keep the school open thinks there just might be an opportunity to put the decision to close the schools on hold.

Earlier in the week Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter announced that there will be an overhaul of the process school boards use to review schools for potential closure.

Mitzie Hunter, left, and premiere Kathleen Wynne celebrate a Liberal victory the Scarborough-Guildwood by-election on Thursday. (August 1, 2013)

Has Minister of Education and Premier Kathleen Wynne given Burlington high school parents the opening they need to put a hold on school closings?

While the process is under review, school boards will not begin any new reviews, with the exception of those reviews which would support joint-use projects between school boards or for student safety.

In a comment made in the Gazette earlier today Atkinson said: “Now that we have been proven correct in our assertion that the PAR was flawed, by no less than Mitzie Hunter and Premier Wynne with their decision to immediately pause Ontario school closures, I wonder if this administrative review can be used as a “decision pending” designation for Pearson & Bateman as opposed to “on the chopping block”?

“I am certain our MPP can now provide input AND valuable assistance on this provincial decision and will contact her immediately.”

Atkinson and parents at Bateman high school are in the process of preparing a request for an Administrative Review of the decision the Halton District School Board June 7th, to close both Bateman high school and Lester B. Pearson.

It’s a long shot but certainly one well worth taking.

Related article

High school parents seeking an Administrative Review of Board’s school closing decision.

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Pearson and Bateman high school students prearing a request for an Administrative Review of the Boards decision to close the high schools.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 29th, 2017



While the Board of Education staff get on with the process of closing Lester B. Pearson in 2018 and Bateman high school in 2020 parents from both schools have taken a “not so fast” approach and are seeking an Administrative review of the process that was used to make the decision.

Eric who PARCSteve Armstrong, the lead from Pearson high school on the request for the Administrative reviews reports that they are “well along the path on getting our documentation together for submission.”

“On the signature front we have greatly exceeded our minimum required. We have two piles going one for the official qualifying signatures, and a second for those such as students who wanted to show support, but don’t count against the required number. We’re going to send both as a show of support.

Bateman hug # 2

Bateman students and parents protesting.

Armstrong reports that “Its been everyone’s interpretation of the procedure that each school slated for closure needs to request an Admin Review so team Bateman is also well along. We are conversing with them to make sure that were appropriate there is overlap, and in some areas there will be individual school issues

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Pearson high school parents asking for a review of the decision the Board of Education made to close the school.

“Yesterday’s announcement putting future PARs on hold was interesting, but it remains to be seen if it has any impact on us….assuming for now it doesn’t so we’ll keep pushing.”

And push they will.

Expect more on this in the months ahead.

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90.7 per cent of Halton District School Board students graduated within five years - exceeds provincial average of 86.5 %.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

June 28th, 2017



The Halton District School Board announces that the graduation rate of Halton students continues to exceed that of the provincial average.

In 2016, 90.7 per cent of Halton District School Board students graduated within five years of starting Grade 9, exceeding the Ontario average of 86.5 per cent.

The Board’s four-year graduation rate for students in 2016 (Grade 9 students enrolled in the 2012-13 school year) is 83.3 per cent compared to the Ontario average of 79.6 per cent.

Bateman graduation class 2017

The Robert Bateman High school graduation class of 2017

“The progress represented in the graduation rate indicator, both provincially and locally, is reflective of the efforts and leadership of many people including our students, staff, and families,” said Julie Hunt Gibbons, Superintendent of Education (Secondary Programs) for the Halton District School Board. “We will continue to support all students through our various Student Success initiatives so our graduation rate continues to trend upward.”

“The Halton District School Board provides innovative Specialist High Skills Majors, dual credit options, apprenticeships and cooperative education opportunities that help students customize their high school experience,” said Julie Hunt Gibbons, Superintendent of Education (Secondary Programs) for the Board.

No mention that there will be fewer high schools for these students to graduate from starting next year when Lester B. Pearson sees its last student accept a diploma.

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Bateman parents asking for the immediate suspension of a school board trustee and a city councillor.

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 26. 2017


The following media release was received from the Save Bateman Committee four days after it was released on June 17th.

Members of the ‘Save Bateman’ Committee have filed a complaint against Burlington Ward One and Two school trustee Leah Reynolds regarding her unprofessional conduct during a school board meeting and are demanding her immediate suspension until the issue is resolved.

Trustee Reynolds’ conduct at the June 7th meeting was not in accordance with the Halton District School Board trustee’s code of conduct, specifically point #5 relating to Integrity and Dignity of Office and Civil Behaviour.

MMW typing

Meed Ward working on her IPad during a school board meeting.

The incident occurred at the board’s head office on 2050 Guelph Line in Burlington during a critical meeting that was to decide the fate of two high schools. Several members in the audience watched as Ward Two City Councillor Marianne Meed Ward used her iPad to text instructions to Trustee Reynolds on how to block a motion that was introduced to save the closure of Bateman High School.

The motion was put forward by Ward Five trustee Amy Collard who represents the area where Bateman is located. The texting began between Reynolds and Meed Ward soon after the meeting began and continued for almost one hour. It was noticed by those in attendance and (later) by members of the public watching the online live stream.

The Gazette adds that: Meed Ward has since said she did send Trustee Reynolds text messages but that the messages related to procedural matters only and that when the procedural matter was resolved she no longer sent messages to Reynolds. The procedural issue took up about an hour of the meeting that ran to well past midnight.

MMW + Leah Reynolds

City Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and Leah Reynolds at a nomination meeting.

Trustee Reynolds, who had campaigned on a platform of ‘no school closures’ fumbled to read words on her laptop while putting forward reasons why Collard’s motion should be struck down. It is critical to note that Meed Ward helped Reynolds in her election campaign and that Meed Ward served as a committee member on the school closure (PAR) committee, an involvement which received much criticism.

A parent took a photo of Meed Ward’s iPad screen that clearly showed she was instructing Reynolds. In one line, Meed Ward wrote; “DON’T VOTE IN FAVOR” and in another, “Do not uphold the Chair’s ruling.”

The same parent emailed chair trustee Kelly Amos to alert her to the incident and also talked to the parliamentarian who was present. Trustee Amos’ response was that trustees get lots of emails from their constituents so it was not deemed to be a concern.

Members of Save Bateman are demanding a full investigation into the incident because they believe that Meed Ward’s actions in which she appears to be directing Reynolds, unduly influenced the outcome of the vote.

‘Save Bateman’ members are also demanding an investigation into whether Meed Ward attempted to direct and/or influence the vote of other HDSB school trustees.

Lisa Bull shocked

Lisa Bull said she was shocked when she read the message she is believed to have read and photographed on Marianne Meed Ward’s iPad.

Denise Davey at council April 3

Denise Davy, a former journalist has delegated at city council to urge the city to involve itself in the school closing debate. Davy has been instrumental in getting the Bateman high school story news coverage at CHCH television.

Bateman parents have filed complaints with the HDSB as well as through the Ontario Ombudsman, the City of Burlington, The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, he Canadian School Boards Association and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

This group of concerned parents believes this to be an issue of integrity and honesty and argue that both Reynolds and Meed Ward failed to behave in accordance with what is expected from elected officials – particularly during such a significant process focused on closing schools.

Throughout the process, Meed Ward also used her Ward Two e-newsletter to communicate about the PAR process and reported unvalidated information/data that many believe influenced the decision to close Bateman.

Leah Reynolds with students

Leah Reynolds talking to Central high school students at a public meeting.

This formed the backdrop of the June 7th incident and further escalated the public’s concerns around Meed Ward’s involvement in the closure process.

Reynolds had campaigned on a platform of ‘no school closures’ yet voted for the closure of two schools.

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High school parents failed to do what needed to be done - give the school board trustees crystal clear instructions - do not close any of the schools.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 26th, 2017



Everyone is blaming the eleven trustees for the decision they made to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

Trustees - fill board +

The trustees needed a clear signal from the parents – they didn’t get one.

All they did was their job. The signals they got from parents were pure self-interest. Central fought like crazy to get their name off the close list. They did that by organizing and putting facts on the table.

Lester B. Pearson put very solid facts on the table – they had the best of the arguments to not lose their school.

School closing banner

The Board staff did everything they could to tell parents that changes were in the wind.

The Bateman parents at first paid no attention whatsoever about the school closing issue – they saw themselves as safe and did nothing.

When they realized they weren’t safe at all – that they were at serious risk they had to scramble to get their story out. It was a very solid story – few people outside Bateman knew how successful a school Bateman really is. The closing of that school is going to be very disruptive for families that have had more than their share of disruption.

The trustees were faced with a situation where the Board made a recommendation, then changed that recommendation and then proceeded to hold several meetings that left few parents happy with the way things were going.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

It was too little too late – Bateman parents who deserved better treatment got caught up in a turf war they didn’t see coming. Many of the students at the school will suffer because of their individual circumstances. It didn’t need to happen this way.

What was clear during the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) process was that no one really wanted to see a school closed. It took a bit of time for the PAR committee to coalesce as a group and when they did it was evident that they had within them the capacity to come up with some innovative ideas. They needed more time.

One Gazette commentator pointed out that the city spent more time on deciding what to do with the Freeman Station than the school board allowed for the parents to have a meaningful input on the school closing decision.

When city hall made the wrong decision citizens moved in and got it right – on our sesquicentennial next Saturday you will be able to tour a really well preserved Freeman train station that served this city well. Citizens inevitably make the right decision – they just need some leadership.

The PAR committee learned, much to their surprise, that what they understood innovation to mean was not what the parents meant. What we saw was the size of the divide between a protected part of the economy (school board staff) and the private sector that has to earn its bread every day.

Option 7 - short

Option # 7 don’t close any of the high schools.

Option 19 short

Option 19 – the Staff recommendation,

Option 28 - shortWhat turned out not to be possible for the PAR committee to do was to settle on just the one recommendation and that was to not close any schools and to change some of the school boundaries.

It was there for them to choose – #7.

But instead the different communities chose to protect their own turf and do whatever they could to save their school.

Imagine – just imagine if the PAR had settled on the one option – # 7 and then said to the trustees – don’t you dare close any schools until this issue has been thoroughly reviewed and the community agrees on what is best for the whole community.

Dine lbp

Delegations argued their individual school case and in doing so lost an opportunity to put a collective case in front of the trustees and direct them to listen to the parents.

And imagine if every one of the 50+ delegations had said the same thing – don’t you dare close any of these schools.  Direct the staff to do a better job of coming up with a better solution.

Had the PAR committee and the delegations done what they could have done – do you think the trustees would have voted the way they did?

And had the community pulled together the way they could have we would not have the rancour and really bad feelings between the parents at one school feeling as aggrieved as they have a right to feel.

The matter of those 1800 empty seats is a concern – the world is not going to come to an end if many of those seats remain empty for a while. The 1800 number isn’t apparently the real number – it is somewhat less but it is an issue that needs serious attention.

The trustees had little choice – they didn’t fail – the parents failed. What the trustees got was a set of very mixed messages – close theirs but don’t close mine. Some argue that the Board of Education set things up so just this would happen. I don’t believe they did – but if they did – did we have to follow that direction?

All you had to do was say No! Every one of you – just say No!  That didn’t happen and the trustees went to the safest corner they could find – the wishes of the staff.  One Burlington trustee who campaigned on no school closures went along with her colleagues and voted to let Bateman high school close.

The upside, and it is small, is that trustees get chosen again in just over a year and maybe someone will find a way to get something on the agenda that takes a second look at the decision made June 7th, 2017.

The properties are not going to be sold to developers for years – if they are sold at all. Right now the plan is to close them and that is a decision we have to live with because we let it happen.

Those who buy into the belief that Burlington is the best mid-sized city in the country are probably the same people who claim downtown Burlington is vibrant.

We are really better people than this.

Work together, work for each other and make the place the city that has more than a wonderful waterfront and a magnificent escarpment going for it.

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Meed Ward admits she sent a message to a trustee while debate was taking place - says there is nothing wrong with doing so and that the message had to do with a procedural matter.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 26th, 2017


This article was revised.  In the original version we said Marianne Meed Ward sent just the one message to trustee Reynolds during the school board meeting. Meed Ward advised us that she sent several messages all of which were related to procedural matters.

Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward admits that she did send ward 1 and 2 school board trustee Leah Reynolds  messages electronically advising her not to vote on a motion that was before the board.

MMW message to Reynolds

“Don’t vote … Let it go” said parent Marianne Meed Ward to school trustee Leah Reynolds. The message was seen as private and was an acceptable practice?

Meed Ward adds that the messages she sent – there were several had to do with a complex procedural situation that the Board of Education debated for an hour.

Meed Ward’s view appears to be that a comment or advice on a procedural matter is acceptable.

The Chair of the Board of Education Kelly Amos said that trustees get messages from people in the public gallery all the time.

Meed Ward maintains the message was private and that it is being misrepresented and that false allegations are being made about her motives.

Meed Ward asks people to look at the facts and not come to a conclusion without all the facts.

The difficulty with this is that the facts are complex, confusing and that there are several sets of facts.

Amos and Graves

Chair Kelly Amos and vice chair Kim Graves trying to figure out just what the rules require when there are two different motions on the floor.

The issue before the board was which motion was going to be heard first. A Parliamentarian who was brought in by Board staff took the position that two motions could be on the floor at the same time.

The Boards lawyer saw it differently and said the Board could debate just the one motion at a time.

In matters like this – the Chair rules and Kelly Amos went along with the opinion given her by the Parliamentarian.

Central looking glum

People in the public gallery at the June 7th Board of Education meting – this shot is of a mostly Central high school people

For the Bateman parents it was all about a trustee who voted for the closure of their school getting advice from a member of city council who was also one of the parent representatives from Central, a high school that was originally recommended for closure.

It is not a pretty picture and it certainly smells. It was a complex issue and feelings were running very high. They were just as high at Central high school when they were recommended for closure.

When the closure recommendation was changed to closing Bateman rather than Central – attitudes changed in minutes and everyone began behaving badly.

One has to take Meed Ward at her word. She says she sent messages that to a procedural matter. If there is evidence to the contrary that should be brought forward.

Meed Ward told the Gazette that what she did was the right thing to do and added that it has been a very tough situation.

Meed WArd at PARC

Meed Ward sitting as a parent representative at the PAR meetings.

Asked if she regrets accepting the role of being a member of the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) Meed Ward said she had no regrets.

What she does regret is the lack of respect for differing opinions. “I have empathy for the parents at Bateman” said Meed Ward. The decision to close a school has real impact on a community and it is hard for people to accept changes like this, she added.

What bothers Meed Ward most is the disregard and damage being done to civil discourse. The public drops out of public debate when the respect for the views of each other are disregarded, she said. People don’t want to become involved when there is so much misrepresentation and distortion of the facts.

What is bothering people who are not directly involved in the school closings is the acceptance of a practice that has people in the public gallery sending electronic message to trustees with advice and direction – even if it relates to just a procedural matter.

What also bothers some is why the parents who had the evidence showing a person sending a message to a trustee waited more than two weeks before releasing the information they had.

MMW typing

Is what is on that computer screen public or private?

A further concern is the matter of what is private and what is public: When a city Councillor attends a public Board of Education meeting and is seen sending a message electronically to a trustee – is the sending of that message private or is it in the public interest for that message to be made public?

Trustee Leah Reynolds was asked to make herself available for an interview. So far there has not been a response.

The Board of Education has begun the transition process and appointed Superintendent Terry Blackwell to oversee the process.

The Board announced that it will hire architects who will do the design work on Nelson high school for the transfer of the Bateman students to that location in 2020.

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Bateman parents want an investigation into the coaching they believe city Councillor Meed Ward gave trustee Leah Reynolds during a crucial high school closing vote.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 23rd, 2017



The fat is in the fire.

And it is going to severely burn a number of elected officials.

Bateman high school parents have been fighting doggedly to keep their high school. They have presented evidence that a member of the PARC and a city Councillor has been coaching a school board trustee on what to say during the critical June 7th meeting at which the trustees decided to close Bateman and Pearson.

The parent group has had the information since June 7th – and have held it while they strategize and determine how best to have the biggest possible impact.

They went for a TV interview with CHCH – they dropped the bomb in a Thursday evening broadcast that could derail the plans Meed Ward has had for running for the office of Mayor in Burlington.

Reynolds with Roberts rules

Trustee Leah Reynolds working from a well marked copy of Roberts Rules of order during the crucial June 7 vote on high school closings.

Leah Reynolds, the school board trustee who was being coached had plans to run or the ward 2 city council seat.

Meed Ward said she was not coaching anyone – but rather making comments on procedural issues.

Kelly Amos, the chair of the Board of trustees said no rules were broken and the Code of Conduct was observed.

When the Director of Education, Stuart Miller, advised the Board trustees last October that there were something in the order of 1800 empty high school seats in Burlington and that as Director he wanted to Board to do a Program Accommodation Review of the Burlington high schools.

The Board agreed and created a PARC (Program Accommodation Review Committee.

Those committees have two representatives from each high school in the city who look at all the information available and if they can make a recommendation to the Director who in turn makes his final recommendation to the trustees.

Councillor Meed Ward goes after free city hall parking. Wants the tax rules to be applied.

Burlington city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

Marianne Meed Ward, the city Councillor for ward 2 in Burlington has a son at Central high school; she was asked by the Parent Council if she would represent them on the PARC. She said she would which raised both eyebrows and hackles amongst many.

The first recommendation from the Director of Education that the PARC had to deal with was to close both Central high school and Lester B. Pearson high school.

Sometime later the Director revised his recommendation and removed Central high school form the recommendation and added Bateman high school.

The Bateman parents were stunned and they weren’t ready for the fight of their lives – which they eventually lost.

Parents at the three high schools have lived through a horrendous nine months. There was a lot of bitterness at Bateman and Pearson.

MMW typing

Meed Ward at her iPad during a school board meeting.

What few knew was that the Bateman parents had captured Meed Ward communicating with trustee Reynolds during the June 7th meeting. Those parents had a member of their committee who could get them in front of the CHCH news people – they knew a hot story when they saw one.

The Bateman parents have filed complaints against trustee Reynolds and city Councillor Meed Ward accusing them of acting unethically during a meeting to decide the fate of two Burlington schools.

MMW message to Reynolds

Is this a smoking gun? Going to be tough to explain this one.

The Save Bateman Committee say the words of school trustee Leah Reynolds weren’t her own; they claim they could see Burlington city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward typing instructions to Reynolds on her iPad and they have visual evidence to back up their claim.

Lisa Bull shocked

Lisa Bull speaking for the Bateman parents – She is “shocked’!

Lisa Bull, a Bateman parent took a picture where one message said: “don’t vote in favour”. She says she was talking about a motion put forward by another trustee, Amy Collard, to explore a partnership between Robert Bateman and Nelson high school, to save the school and some of its unique programs in skilled trades and special needs.

The chair of the Halton District School Board says receiving emails and texts during a meeting isn’t against the rules but parents say Meed Ward was instructing her on how to block the motion and that Reynolds campaigned on a platform of “no school closures”.

The Save Bateman Committee is also accusing Meed Ward of influencing the decision to pull Central school off the closure list.

CHCH asked Meed Ward for an interview; the normally always available for time on television Meed Ward said she wasn’t available. She sent the TV station a statement saying, “the texts related to procedural matters only and had nothing to do with the content of motions regarding school closures and alternatives…”

Leah Reynolds didn’t respond to the CHCH interview request.

MMW + Leah Reynolds

City Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with Leah Reynolds; Best friends forever.

The Save Bateman Committee wants the Board of Education to put a pause on the final 10-1 vote to close the school and they are asking that trustee Reynolds be suspended.

It will take some time for everyone to figure out just what merit there is in the parent demand to put a hold on the school closing.

What is evident this morning is that this smells.

Asking Meed Ward to produce a copy of every text message or email she sent trustee Reynolds might clear the air a bit.

Some of the copy in this report is from the CHCH newscast.

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The tax people don't communicate like this - and only the gullible respond to stuff like this.

IDTHEFT 100X100By Staff

June 14th, 2017



There are enough clues in this Identity Theft scam to see it for just what it is – a way for the sender to determine that you are gullible and begin gathering information about you.

Vigilant, vigilant, vigilant – check what lands in your mail box. Sort o like crossing a street – look both ways and then begin crossing.

Count the number of errors, clues and red flags in this one:

Tax refund scam

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Chat and Chew event didn't have all that much buzz about it -

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 11, 2017



It was billed as her annual BBQ – which she called a Chat and Chew – held at the Lions Park in the downtown core where most of her strength exists.

Held on a Friday evening – seemed like a good time. The weather was as good as it gets.

blonde boy

Figuring it out.

It was a large site and there was plenty for the kids to do including a pony ride.

There were information booths galore.

There was free food courtesy of Turtle Jacks.

There were pieces from what we call the Gazebo willows available for those who wanted a keepsake.

There was a fire truck and a police car.

But there was no buzz – no sense that anyone was having fun.

It was certainly a political event – that’s what these things are and held where her political strength exists but ward 2 city Councillor the Marianne Meed Ward’s event seemed to be missing something.

People larger view

There were information booths galore – just didn’t seem to be a lot of people walking around.

The Gazette didn’t make use of the event to engage the Councillor in conversation – we were there to observe.
Was there any political fallout from the school closure decision the Halton Board of Education made to close two high schools earlier in the week?

MMW standing

Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward at her Chat and Chew community event.

Meed Ward will get credit for ensuring that the high school in her ward didn’t get the chop; she is also getting some blowback for what some described as a conflict of interest in serving on the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC ) that was involved in whittling a 40+ school closing recommendation down to five – one of which was Central high school.

When the Director of Education submitted his original school closing recommendation his top choice of the 19 options he and his staff came up with had the closing of Lester B. Pearson and Central high school at the top of the list.

Terry Ruff former HS principal BCHS

Terry Ruff former Central high school principal speaks to the first meeting of parents telling them how he two previous attempts to close the school failed.

That announcement mobilized the Central parents who left no stone unturned in their drive to get their school off that list.

Once the Director’s recommendations were public the PARC was formed and Central high school chose Meed Ward to represent them. There were howls of protest about a conflict of interst. Meed Ward had a son at the school and she was asked to take on the task.

She brought formidable political skills to the work she did.

The Gazette attended every meeting of the PARC and found Meed Ward to be much less effective at the PARC than she was at city Council meetings.

There were  times at city council when Meed Ward was close to brazen, which we see as a plus. She was focused and direct and asked more questions than any other three members of city council.

The rest of council often roll their eyeballs when she asked for yet another recorded vote.

We didn’t see the same kind of energy during the PARC meetings.

Meed WArd at PARC

Marianne Meed Ward at one of the seven PARC meetings.

The Director of Education, Stuart Miller  did change his recommendation from closing Central high school and Pearson high school to closing Bateman high school and Pearson.

Many howled at that change and argued that it was influence from Meed Ward, a member of city council and the Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon that swayed Miller.

Stuart Miller changed his mind when he saw all the evidence that was collected and put forward by the Central high school parents. Meed Ward didn’t have any undue influence – she was part of a team with formidable skills that they put to excellent use.

They were creating teams and assigning tasks days after the school closing announcement was made. The held a silent auction fund raiser and pulled in $14,000 which allowed them to print up signs that were on almost every lawn in the ward.

They demonstrated and they did their homework. They figured out that it was going to cost $400,000 every year for the foreseeable future to transport the Central high school students to either Aldershot high school or Nelson high school.

$400,000 a year – every year was a stunning number – that was only going to go higher as transportation costs rose.

Map #1 - all schools

The distance Central high school students would have to travel if Central was closed and they were transferred to either Nelson or Aldershot high schools is 6.4 km; the distance between Bateman and Nelson high schools is 1.9 km.

The disruption to student extra-curricular life for the students would be immense.

If Central high school was closed their students would have had a 6.4 km trip to either Aldershot high school or Nelson high school.  If either Bateman or Nelson were closed those students would have a 1.9 km trip – many would be able to walk to school.

The map and the rationale Central parents provided was one of the most compelling arguments for not closing that high school.  The Burlington Downtown Business association put forward a strong argument for keeping the high school open as well.

Most of the points the Central parents made seemed rather obvious when they were looked at closely and on wonders why the Board of Education staff didn’t see what the Central parents discovered.

The Central parents challenged almost every decision the Board staff had made; they missed nothing,

The decision to close Bateman instead of central was made.   Central is really in very rough shape physically – mostly as the result of neglect, is going to need a lot of money to be brought up to an acceptable standard. It has an acceptable bit of charm and a lot of history going for it but when compared to what Hayden has got – Central pales in comparison. It is what the Central parents are prepared to accept or have accepted in the past.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker and she wants his job

Where they live

There just didn’t seem to be a lot of people.

Meed Ward has an almost tribal relationship with her constituents – they don’t all think she walks on water but they see her as the  member of council that works hard for them and has a vision for the city that other members of council don’t have – including the Mayor who Meed Ward has always wanted to replace.

When she was running for the city council seat in 2009 she wanted the job of Mayor when Can Jackson had it.

For reasons that are not all that clear she chose not to run against Goldring in 2014.

There was a point at which there was little doubt that she was going to run against him in 2018; there now appears to be some doubt.

Were she to remain a city Councillor she would win the ward hands down in 2018 – is the rest of the city ready for her as Mayor?

There are hundreds of them in ward 5 that will campaign actively against her – with a little help from the sitting council member Jack Dennison who is giving every indication that he will run again in his ward, Meed Ward may not be able to pull off a majority of the vote in that ward.

Is the dis-satisfaction from some over the role she played on the PARC going to hurt her longer term political aspirations?

They well might.

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Pearson alumni challenges statements made by trustee who voted for closure of the high school.

opinionandcommentBy Staff

June 10th, 2017



Parents with an interest in what has happened to the two high schools that are going to be closed by the Halton District school Board are beginning to voice their concerns.

LBP George Ward + Rory Nisen

Rory Nisan, on the left, a Lester B. Pearson alumni who credits the small enrollment school with much of his career success.

Rory Nisan, a Lester B. Pearson alumni, takes issue with the explanation Burlington Ward 3 and 6 trustee Andrea Grebenc released yesterday.

“She is adamant about 1000 being the necessary number of students” said Nisan. “This is the crux of her argument for closing our school. However, are mega schools optimal, especially when they are way over designed capacity?

“Absolutely not. They are a far worse scenario than having all three schools at 800-plus students, which is easily achievable (we provided her with the data and a clear plan for this).

“Simply giving back the students that were taken away when Hayden opened would fix the problem. Her vote guarantees that MM and Hayden will be well over capacity for many years if not indefinitely.

“She knew this when she made her decision.”

Nissan adds that Grebenc says there “seemed to be more course conflicts than students”. These are empty words. They don’t take into account that the student experience would have been greatly enhanced with 800 students, a number that is easily achieved by bringing Hayden’s capacity down to appropriate levels.

“She also knew this when she made her decision.”

“She notes” said Nisan that “all of the extracurriculars in which she participated as evidence of how much she loved Pearson. However, with MM and Hayden becoming two mega schools with over 1400 pupils each in 2021, students of those schools will have far fewer opportunities than she did.

“She knew this also.”

Lester Pearson at Upper Middle and Headon

Lester Pearson parents demonstrating at Upper Middle and Headon

Nisan, using the material Grebenc provided said that “Again, 1000 students is the minimum, she says. But she voted in favour a dual campus solution for Bateman even though that school only has 747 students (2017).

“Why didn’t she support (or even show any consideration of) a dual campus for MM and Pearson? Why is she more innovative in thinking about Bateman than a school that so many of her constituents have a stake in?

“She knew this was a possibility, in addition to giving Pearson some of Hayden’s students, when she made her decision.”

The 1000 student target that Grebenc appears to see as close to optimum “is not supported by any data that came forth through the entire process. Pearson was never meant to have 1000 students. Several other schools in Burlington will continue to have significantly less than 1000 students after this process is complete. She never mentioned closing any of them” said Nisan.

“She knew this too.”

“She notes that there were 1000 students when she was there because she went through her yearbook and “counted every face”. She fails to mention that there was OAC (grade 13) when she was a student.

“I went through my yearbook (1998)” said Grebenc in her statement. “Pearson was a bustling school that year. The porto-pac was packed. Our sports teams were solid, and I don’t remember ever having a course conflict.”


The high school will have emptied parents cast ballots in the October 2018 municipal election.

Guess how many grade 9-12 students there were? asks Nisan:  686.  Another 151 OAC grads rounded out the student body.

“She had these numbers at her fingertips when she made her decision.”

Trustee Grebenc’s short intervention used the word “I” 34 times.

Trustee Grebenc’s statement, filled with rhetoric and hyperbole, and devoid of any data or arguments that passes even superficial scrutiny, was a failure” said Nisan.

“Our students will have to pay the price.”

Related article:

Why Grebenc voted against keeping Lester B. Pearson high school open

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Grebenc on Bateman: why she went along with the vote to close the high school.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 10th, 2017



Burlington Ward 3 and 6 Halton District school Board trustee Andrea Grebenc released a statement on her Facebook page setting out why she voted the way she chose to vote at the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday when trustees decided to approve the recommendation to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Andrea Grebenc in conversation with Director of Education Stuart Miller

“It has been a tough few months” she said “and I know many of you are upset with the outcome of the Program Accommodation Review (PAR). I wanted to let you know that I explored a number of options myself and I was willing to go down the road with respect to a dual campus/one school concept and getting community partners to help fill space in the school.

“I could see the Bateman campus as a truly vibrant community hub. I believe in community hubs and schools should be an integral part of them. I think in this day and age, few people even know their neighbours, therefore providing gathering spaces to provide a true sense of community is important.

“The special education students at Bateman would have had the opportunity to integrate even more with a broader community setting. The north has three community centres. South East Burlington has one community room along with scattered amenities (pools, ice rinks, stadium and park). I believe community hubs should be cradle-to-grave types of places with programming for pre-natal and pre-school, through school ages, youth, adult and seniors programming.

“I took information provided to me from your community and spoke directly with administrators at two dual campus schools in the west. Both schools had similarities and differences to the Nelson/Bateman situation. The administrators were frank about the experience. It wasn’t a perfect solution, it took extra work, but both schools were successful.

“Unfortunately, my colleagues could not see this happening. Community partners were not forthcoming which was the linchpin to make this work. They would take up the On the Ground capacity to make financial sense. I was hoping the city would have stepped up during the final weeks with some possibilities as they are a natural partner and have partnered with us in the past(Hayden/Haber/Alton Library and Kilbride/Public library and community room).

Bateman - crowd scene

Bateman high school parents demonstrate to save their high school – it wasn’t enough to change six minds.

“When Trustee Collard’s substitute motion about exploring dual campuses failed, I had to support a closure. As I mentioned during statements later in the meeting with regards to Pearson, my research informed me that schools need 1000 students to provide students decent course choices and extracurricular experiences. Without putting Nelson into the same lower enrollment state, Bateman needed to close.

“I care about the students in special education placements residing at Bateman. I promise to hold the Director accountable in his statements that situation at Nelson will be better for those students than what they have now at Bateman and that special care is take with each student transition. It is my duty to make it so and my commitment to the community.”

Bateman high school is scheduled to close in September of 2020.


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Grebenc explains her decision to vote for the closing of Lester B. Pearson high school.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 9th, 2017



Andrea Grebenc is one of the first term trustees on the Halton District School Board representing wards three and six. M.M. Robinson high school, which has been designated as a “composite” high school that is going to take on the French Immersion students who are currently at Hayden high school.

Grebenc - expressive hands

Andrea Grebenc, did her high school years at Pearson and found herself voting to close the school after looking at all the options.

Grebenc did her high school education at Lester B. Pearson and in her comments at the Board meeting this week that decided that school should be closed she waxed both eloquently and emotionally with a solid dose of hard common sense.

In the comments she made Grebenc said she knew “families are upset with my decision to vote with the Director’s recommendation to close Pearson.

“To watch my school, at which I basically lived for 5 years, being proposed to close, put me in a unique position when considering the Director’s recommendation.

Trustees Grebencand Gray BEST

Grebenc went to all the public meetings and listened to anyone who wanted to talk to her. Hear she is with Halton Hills trustee Jeane Gray.

“I know that school. I was there when the portapack went in. I played the oboe in the huge band and sang in the choir directed under the late Peter Purvis and I sang and danced on stage in three school musicals. I played midget volleyball. Our boys Basketball team was the team to be beat in the area and I remember most of the school going to regionals to cheer them on.

“I had a passion for photography, so I was one of the head photographers for the yearbook. I was in Student Auxiliary, I was on the Lighting and tech crew, I was on the Student Technology Assistance Committee. I was in the stage make-up and Tai Chi clubs. There was something for everyone and I never had a course conflict.

“I was there when the school had about 1000 students in it. I know this because I went through my yearbook and counted every face. At its current enrollment of 380 students, I can’t imagine the students’ experience.

PARC Feb 9 Reynolds and Grebenc

Grebenc sat in one every one of the PARC meetings. Her she gets some writing done along with Leah Reynolds, a fellow Burlington trustee.

“There seems to more course scheduling conflicts than students in the school. Without alternative learning opportunities like online courses, summer and night school and travelling over to MMR, some of these kids would have a hard time exploring any passions or interests outside of the typical curriculum. School Information Profiles show that football, hockey, band and choir are all shared with MM Robinson.

“When I went on tour at the school, I didn’t feel the buzz that you would expect in a high school. We could walk into many empty classrooms without a problem. The locker bay is basically gone.

“So, I sat down and played with the numbers to fill the school. I figured that there should be a way to make it work. I pulled this feeder school and that into Pearson. I pulled from both Hayden and from MM Robinson. I tried shifting programs and even grades, but I still could not get the numbers high enough.

“I’ve talked to former administrators and retired administrators whose job it was to timetable classes and oversee the health of the extracurricular student experience. The conclusion I have reached and the opinion that I have formed is that a school needs more than 1000 students to give decent academic and extracurricular choices and to reduce course conflicts.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Trustee Grebenc confers with Director of Education Stuart Miller during one of the seven PARC meetings.

“I apologize if this sounds melodramatic, but a small part of my heart died when I came to the conclusion that I agreed with the recommendation that Pearson should close.

“Now I sit grieving, feeling like I was a pallbearer at an old friend’s funeral. I know many will be grieving as well. I am sorry for this pain, especially for those students that will bear the burden of transitioning, some in their last year of high school, but in my heart and in my gut, I feel that it was the right decision for future students.”

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Finding the pluses in the closing of two high schools - there are some.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2017



There were no happy faces at the Halton District School Board offices this morning.

miller-stuart-onlineThe Director of Education had to look away during part of our interview with him this morning – the last nine months have been hard and “there were decisions to be made that were necessary” said Miller.

Stuart Miller wasn’t having all that good a day. He said he didn’t sleep all that well when he got home. The Board staff met for a short period of time after the marathon meeting; they knew what had to be done and for them the hard work had just begun.

Miller was appointed the Director of Education in October of 2015. At the time he was the Associate Director of Education and had been with the HDSB for all of his career except for a period of time when her served as a volunteer overseas

He started as a classroom teacher and worked his way up the ladder. He was at one point the vice principal of a school that he came to realize had to be closed – Lester B. Pearson high school which had more than 1000 students when he was there.

Miller with students Mar 7-17During his interview for the job he was asked by the trustees that hired him what the really pressing issues were and “I told them at the time that there were serious problems with the way French Immersion was being handled and that a Program Accommodation Review was necessary because at the time there were more than 1500 empty classroom seats in the seven Burlington high schools.

Miller’s job was to solve those problems. He produced a staff report with a recommendation that called for the closing of Central high school and Lester B. Pearson high school. That report called for a Secondary school Program Accommodation Review (PAR).

Miller prep at CentralThe recommendation was accepted and the PAR began in October of 2016. The decision to hold the PAR was made by the trustees and it was evident to the trustees then that school closures were a very real possibility – but the general public was not forewarned.

The creation of a PAR means the creation of a PARC a committee that looks into all the options and serves as the official channel between the Board and the parents. Each school nominated one parent and the Board staff selected an additional parent from those who expressed an interest in serving. Those 14 people had no idea what they had gotten themselves into.

The met on seven different occasions for meetings that went well into the night. As a group they were not able to arrive at a consensus on any one recommendation. They sent five back to staff and said these were worth additional thinking.

Central, Pearson and Bateman were now on the recommended list. Not closing any of the schools was also on the list.

With Central and Bateman recommended for closure it was clear that there was a serious battle shaping up – both schools would not be closed – it was one or the other.

After hours of debate the trustees decided on closing Bateman and Pearson – but moving the Bateman closing to 2020.

With the decisions made the work of healing the hurt that parents were feeling and assuring them that the promises made were real and would be delivered had to begin.

Board staff did not visit the schools this morning. “It was time for the school principals to begin working with their staff and prepare for the changes that were going to take place” said Miller.

Miller knows people are hurting “this isn’t what I got into education to do” he said. And he adds that while right now the attention is on the school closings there were some very positive decisions made. There are now going to be two composite school in the city – one in the North –M.M. Robinson and Nelson high in the south.

Composite high schools are by their very nature big enrollment schools. They are there to offer every program available in the Halton system. “We wanted every student to attend a high school in their part of the city” they won’t necessarily be walkable to schools but they won’t be on the other side of the city either.

Composite high school will offer every possible program – for those in the Community Pathway programs to those in the International Baccalaureate Program.

When the PAR process began we weren’t thinking about the creation of composite schools – they will become a very strong part of the high school set up in Burlington, said Miller

Hammil + MillerThere will also be a “magnet” school, an awkward word for a school with a specific purpose that the Gazette will report on in more detail later.

There is another change in the wind and that is the change that will take place at Nelson high school. A name change is a distinct possibility; that may be the price the Bateman parents demand for losing their school.

More to the point though is the cultural change at Nelson will undergo.

The students from Bateman are both culturally and socially much different than what Nelson is today. The influx of these students is going to have a huge impact on the current Nelson culture.

The big thinkers on the Board staff think this merging of cultures is a good thing and will result in a stronger more diverse school. They had better be right. It is going to take an exceptional principal to make that happen.

Stuart MillerOur interview was in the forenoon – for Stuart Miller it was going to be a sad, reflective day. A decision that had to be made had been made – his task now was to make sure the healing took place and that the near term result was a parent community that was able to come together and make the best of what was ahead of them.

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Handling the transition of several hundred special needs students a huge challenge

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2017



The decision has been made – the Board of Education will close two of the seven high schools in the city.

Bateman - crowd sceneParents at Bateman high school, where there are hundreds of students who are described as emotionally at risk and are going to need help adjusting to a significant change in their lives, have been told by Board staff that they are prepared to hold one-on-one meetings with parents to craft a transition plan for each student as they prepare to move from a school that is to be closed to a school some of them don’t even know exists.

During the debate leading up to the decision to close the schools many parents made it clear that they did not trust the school to do what was best for their children

Mark Zonneveld, the Superintendent of Education who will oversee the transition process, will have his hands full not only getting the job done but overcoming the fear and distrust that parents have now.

portrait of Mark Zonneveld

Mark Zonneveld

Most people in Burlington aren’t aware of the student at Bateman who deal with serious and severe disadvantages. The lives of those families are much different than the lives of other families. The focus is on the child and the needs – which are beyond the understanding of most families and are present every minute of every day. That is not to even suggest that other parents do not worry about how their children grow and become productive in the community.

For those special needs students – it is just a lot different.

These are children who are deeply loved and appreciated who have been in a school that fully understands their needs and has found ways to overcome problems.

The lives of those students are going to go through significant disruption – which Bateman parents saw as totally unnecessary – but that decision has been made.

The measure of a society is often determined by how it takes care of its weakest.

Burlington is about to learn just how good it is at taking care of those who need more care than most.

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Culture clashes between two high schools in Burlington get discussed at Board of Education meeting.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2017



With the decision to close Bateman high school a done deal, albeit a decision that won’t get implemented until 2020, finding a way to make the culture at Nelson at least hospitable to the students arriving from Bateman becomes very relevant.

While less than two km apart the culture of the two schools is significantly different.

portrait of Joanna Oliver

Oakville trustee Joanna Oliver

Joanna Oliver, an Oakville trustee asked a question last night that put an uncomfortable issue on the table where it couldn’t be ignored.

“The community has shared with us concerns about transitions and safe and welcoming school environments” said Oliver. “ I would like to reflect on the comments made about the unaccepting culture at Nelson.

“Such comments have been made in various delegations and shared with us by email. They have almost assumed a life of their own and that’s one of a threat and fear” on the part of the students at Bateman who will be transferred to Nelson.

“I feel that staying silent on this matter helps to potentially, though inadvertently protect such a culture and it does a huge disservice to the Nelson students who are inclusive, compassionate and adaptable”, said Oliver.

She added: “Given HDSB’s efforts at anti-bullying and fostering inclusive and safe school environments – I find it hard to believe that staff and other students at Nelson would actively protect a culture of intolerance.

Nelson High crest

Nelson high school – sen by many as the premier high school in the city, will now see a $12 million addition to its facilities and an influx of students that will, over time, change the culture of the school.

“Unfortunately, there may always be individuals who are not accepting and who do engage in various forms of bullying but they are not the majority.”

While there were many mentions of a rude environment awaiting the students from Bateman at Nelson, with Social Media crawling with comments that would stun many parents, Director of Education Stuart Miller said the Board had not been able to identify the kind of behaviour that was being talked about.

It is a concern – how it gets handled is what bothers parents who have students in the Community Pathways Program.

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

News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2017



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


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

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

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

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

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

Bateman - crowd scene

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

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

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

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

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

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School board trustees will start the process of deciding which, if any, schools they want to close in Burlington. Closing none at this point is the best option for everyone.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

June 7th, 2017


They will convene at 7:00 pm this evening and begin the debate on what they as trustees think is best for the citizens of Burlington.

The 11 Halton District School Board trustees have been working through a process that began last October.

They decided then that they should create a Program Accommodation committee to consider the recommendation from the Director of Education that some of the Burlington high schools be closed. Which schools was the issue.

Each high school in Burlington nominated a parent to serve on the Program Accommodation Review Committee and the Board selected one person from a list of people who expressed an interest in serving on that committee.

The PARC met on seven occasion to review the 19 possible options Board staff had prepared. The Director of Education felt that the best option was to close Central high school of the Lester B. Pearson high school.

The PARC was not able to arrive at a consensus but they did narrow down the 30+ options they had in front of them down to five.

One was to close Central and Pearson; another to close Bateman and Pearson, another to not close any schools.

For reasons that will take some time to determine, the PARC members chose to fight with each other to ensure their school was not closed rather than work as a collective and ask the Board to provide more information.

The information given to the PARC members kept changing – enrollment numbers were suspect from the beginning and the source of some of the information was never all that clear.

For the most part every school was well represented at the PARC level. The PARC members were not served very well by Board staff or by the firm brought in to do research and facilitation.

The public that took part in the process grumbled throughout. The Central high school parents were able to organize very effectively from the moment the initial recommendation was on the table.

The second recommendation took Central off the table and replaced it with Bateman high school who then had to scramble to get their story out.

Parents were livid when they learned that the views of the classroom teachers would not be available and that any response from the high school students was going to be very limited.

With the PARC disbanded – it was time for public delegations. There were 51 of those – which Bateman used very effectively to get their story out.

The delegations were followed by an ”information” meeting during which the trustees had ample opportunity to ask questions – there were few questions that could be seen as digging very deeply.

The interesting part was that it took two meetings to get through all the question asking. Of note – there was just the one trustee who came forward with alternatives.

That is all water under the bridge. Even though there has been some last m8inute data that is very relevant – it will be up to the trustees to put forward motions, debate them, revise them and then vote on them.
Will we know Thursday morning what is going to be done? We will know something.

Will the trustees take up the motion that trustee Collard is certainly going to put forward which is to merge Bateman and Nelson. Should that happen – and it isn’t a bad idea – what would the new two campus school be named? Is the Nelson community ready to give up their name? Don’t bet on that one.

Will the parents accept whatever decision is made or will they seek a Ministerial Review?

Given the serious problems with much of the data and the pace at which the community was forced to march to the beat of a drum beaten by Board staff, the best solution the Gazette arrives at it to not close any schools and to create a task force made up of parents for the most part who would put together a solution that meets the needs of every student current and future in the city.

Steve Smith and Tom Muir served the city very well with their consistent contributions to the process. Armstrong said “it’s amazing how many ideas are coming at the last minute …this process is flawed if for no other reason than there isn’t time to build a cohesive plan”

The Board of trustees have more than enough information to agree with that assessment – they should vote for option # 7 – don’t close any of the schools – and defer a decision for at least two years until there is better data available.

In the immediate future the trustees should direct Board staff to give Pearson high school the feeder schools they used to have and lessen the capacity overload at Hayden.

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PARC member produces data that suggests bigger schools are not better schools.

highschoolsBy Steve Armstrong

June 7th, 2017



Throughout the PARC process there was a continued refrain that larger schools enable more opportunities.

Eric who PARC

Steve Armstrong

What has been lacking is any concise quantification of this. I’ll share what I have been able to piece together from the data available.

One discussion point surrounded the issue of timetable conflicts. The premise being smaller schools have fewer sections available in combination with fewer course options.

The graph below represents the data from all high schools in Halton. On first viewing the downward trend as we go to the right indeed confirms the notion that larger schools have fewer timetable conflicts. I’ve indicated the overall conflict rates for each of the 4 municipalities on the left hand side.

Armstrong 1One question I asked, but never received an answer on, concerned the three schools circled at the bottom of the chart set out below.

What is it about those three schools, Blacklock, Oakville Trafalgar and Garth Webb that enables them to have such low conflict rates?

My suggestion is that you might be able to apply that knowledge within the rest of board and achieve dramatic improvements on this metric. Improvements that making schools larger alone will not achieve.

Focusing just on the seven schools in Burlington I’ve added a pair of trend lines to model the data points. The resulting equations create a model for predicting the outcome of various changes in enrollments.
Having such high R squared values (1.0 is perfect) simply means the equations do a very good job of fitting the data, and that enrollment explains most of the effect being modeled.

Armstrong 2

In use what the model predicts is that when looking at changes to enrollment at any school the outcome will fall on these dashed lines.

We can also clearly see that when enrollment is less than about 800 students the impact of enrollment changes is about 5% per 100 students. Above 800 that rate of improvement drops to 1% per 100 students.

As total enrollment grows the conflict rate is expected to drop from the current 23% down to about 20% without closing any schools.

The current recommendation to close two schools would result in the conflict rate dropping to about 16%. A number that would still be twice as high as observed in Oakville, despite heavily disrupting two communities.

Larger schools are also expected to have a greater number of course offerings, and as the next graph shows this is generally a true statement.

Armstrong 3The data presented was taken from the SIPs (School information profiles) provided to PARC members, and does NOT include online courses.

I’ve drawn in 2 dashed trend lines that are best fits to the data in two overlapping regions.

The blue curve very nicely models the course offerings for schools with under 800 students, and says there is a strong benefit of adding students. The slope tells us that for every 100 students added we would expect 14.9 more course offerings. Since the core courses are already included in the base amount for every school, these would be expanding the options for elective courses.

The orange line provides insight for schools over 600 in size. The effect of adding 100 students is a much smaller 1.78 courses. As an effort to improve on the accuracy I did take a stab at adding data I found for a couple of the other larger schools in Halton. The results did improve the R squared valued (indicating better predicting power), and lowered the benefit to a little over 1 course per 100 students. Since I couldn’t determine if that data was measured in the same way as what was provided by the Board I decided to stick with the known source information.

So, what does this model tell us?

It tells us that for a school to offer a good number of courses we need a critical mass of around 700 students.

For smaller schools, there is significant benefit in increasing the number of students. We would expect 15 new courses per 100 additional students, up to an enrollment of 700. Above critical mass there is a much smaller increase in course options, only 1.78 new courses per 100 new students.

This asymmetry becomes a useful tool when contemplating re balancing enrollments.

For instance: Suppose a boundary change was made between Nelson and Bateman which results in 100 students being relocated to Bateman. Bateman students would be expected to experience an increase of 15 new course offerings. The loss of 100 students at Nelson is predicted to result in loss of only 2 courses. In practice, if the LTAP predicted growth at Nelson of over 100 students by 2020 was instead directed to Bateman then Nelson students wouldn’t likely even see a reduction in course offerings, they just wouldn’t see any increase over what they presently have.

Likewise, suppose 400 students were redirected away from Hayden bringing todays enrolment down to 100% of capacity. Hayden students would see a reduction of only 8 courses, probably less. If Pearson were to receive 250 of those students then its course offering would rise by around 38, and Robinson could also add a number of courses, but given their high course count already may choose instead to lower timetable conflicts. Clearly bringing the overcrowding at Hayden under control by changing boundaries or moving programs would significantly improve all 3 schools.

By combining the perspectives provided by both the timetable conflict data and the course option information much more can be understood about enrollments over a much broader range then a simplistic less than 600 students, greater than 1000 student view of things.

Both perspectives indicate stronger benefits for increasing school enrollments up to around the 700‐800 range.

Below that critical mass the focus is on adding course options, above that point the focus is on adding more sections, which continues to reduce timetable conflict rates. This plateauing on the course options side is inevitable since the Ministry of education has a finite number of courses that can be offered.

With further work this modeling could be improved.

Related article:

Another example of where parent involvement made the difference.

Editor’s note: Steve Armstrong is an engineer.  He was a PAR Committee member representing students from Lester B. Pearson high school.  One wonders what the Board o Education Planning staff will do with this data.

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