Bateman parent leadership decide they don't want their reasons for seeking an Administrative Review widely known or understood. Figure that one out.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 25th, 2017



School is out and not for just the students.

Much of the staff at the Board of Education are taking their vacations, however there is work that has to be done – one of those tasks is responding to the requests for an Administrative Review made by parents from both Lester B. Pearson and Bateman high school.

Bateman parents

It took Bateman some time to organize themselves – were demonstrations like this effective?

Each parent group is preparing their requests separately and when completed they file the request with the Ministry of Education. That was dine early in July.

The Ministry sends a copy to the Board of Education and gives them 30 days to prepare the Board staff response to the parent request for the review.

Board communications people advise use that the task of responding was assigned to a number of senior staff.
That document is due in the hands on the Ministry during the first half of August.

When the Ministry has both sets of documents they sit down and do a review to determine if they, the Ministry, should appoint a facilitator who will be given the task of reviewing the documents and making a decision.

The facilitator can decide that there was nothing wrong with the Program Accommodation Review that took place or he can decide that there were flaws and order the Board to hold another Review. There is a considerable amount of latitude for the facilitator

Halton District School Board has been told in the past that the process they used to decide to close a school was not acceptable.

Sometime in September the public should learn what is come to come out of the request for the Reviews.

The Gazette recently published the request that was made by the parents at Lester B. Pearson. It is a strong document and has merit. 

We were not as fortunate with our request for a copy of the document prepared by the Bateman high school parents.

Responding to our request, Lisa Bull, a Bateman parent and a member of the Program Accommodation Review committee, who was a strong and very vocal advocate for more innovation in the thinking from the Board staff, said the following:

You continue to call out/blame the parents of Bateman for not getting into the ‘fight’ soon enough. This is problematic for several reasons. First, it ignores the fact that few parents from any schools other than Central and Pearson attended the first public meeting. How about blaming the HDSB for not adequately or competently explaining WHAT the PSR process was and how it could potentially impact schools and communities? I am an engaged and informed parent and I wasn’t at that first meeting. I did not understand, at that point in time, what PAR was about or why I should care. As you know, the more I learned the more active I became as was the case with many in our community. I blame the HDSB for their lack of competence in community engagement. Not the parents who have proven that they can and will show up when needed.

Ward 5 school board trustee Amy Collard told the Gazette that “communications to parents come directly from the HDSB. All Burlington parents with an email address in our system would have gotten the emails through our synrevoice email system.

Ms Bull, the excuse you give just doesn’t hold water.

For many of the parents of special needs students at Bateman, getting to additional meetings is incredibly difficult. Many of these parents are exhausted by the daily challenges of caring for their kids. To blame them for not getting into this sooner is victim blaming and is behavior that is just as shameful as that of the HDSB.

I know that you believe that our Admin Review document should be made public and that this should be done via the Gazette. This is your opinion and desire but is not a requirement. Given the position that you have taken and the opinions you have published about the Bateman community, our Committee will not be sending our report at this time.

Responses like this are often described as “shooting the messenger”

Bateman parents have struggled with getting their response out which is unfortunate – they have a very strong case but instead of making their case they fell back on emotional arguments and claimed that the Central parents had ‘thrown them under the bus’.

Bateman school rep - confirm

Sharon Picken, a PARC member – never gave as much as an inch in her argument to keep Bateman open.

The Central parents fully understood the risk and pulled together as a team, raised $14,000 in a silent auction to ensure they had any funds they might need and then dug deep and pulled out all kinds facts that the Board staff had missed.

The Central case was so compelling that the Director, with the support of his staff, decided to change the recommendation and ask the trustees to close Bateman and send some of the students to Central and others to Bateman.

Bateman parents weren’t prepared to accept that the Director of Education did what any intelligent person would do – review new information and if the information was valid and relevant change the decision.

The Bateman parents had only to look at the map that showed the distance between Nelson and Bateman to realize that they were at risk for closure.

When the Director of Education revised his decision the Bateman parents began to say that it was because Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who had a child at Central high school and was made one of the Central high school representatives on the PARC, had undue influence with the Director.

They alluded to meetings Meed Ward had with the Director of Education and all the communications tools she had as a city Councillor.

What Meed Ward had going for her was her skill as a community organizer.  She worked hard with a dedicated team that was focused and supported by a community that was going to do whatever it took.

Lisa Bull shocked

PARC member Lisa Bull who was one of the better thinkers on that committee.

Bateman had skills of its own.  Lisa Bull was also a member of the PARC and she was consistent in her drive to get the Board staff and the trustees to look at the problem the Board faced with fresh eyes and not take a simple solution: – too many schools – close a school or two and the problem is solved.

The Bateman parents know it is n’t quite that simple and the tragedy for this city is that the trustees were not able to see a solution within the more than 50 delegations made.

Bateman was fortunate in that they had the best trustee there is on the Board.  Amy Collard bust her buns to sway her fellow trustees and gave the Director of Education more than one uncomfortable moment when she did her level best to get her motion on the table and ensure that it was properly and fully debated.

Collard, serving her second term as a trustee, was acclaimed on both occasions.  She should be acclaimed a third time.

When Bateman realized it had a fight on its hands they did some superb community grass roots work.  They got excellent television coverage but they were not able to catch the ears of a majority of the trustees.

It was at this point that the public began to get a glimpse of just what the Community Pathways Program was really about and how unfortunate the impact was going to be on the parents who had children in those programs.

We don’t know what the Bateman parents chose to say in their request for an Administrative Review. The document is public and the Gazette will use the provincial Freedom of Information process to get a copy and publish the details.

Collard Amy

Ward 5 school board trustee Amy Collard.

The tragedy in all this is that there are several hundred students who will experience significant upset and turmoil in their lives.  There are parents who believed they had finally found a school that met the needs of their children.  All that is at risk.

The Board staff has said they will provide the Bateman parents and their children with facilities and a level of service that will be better than what they currently have.

The saving grace in all this is that the Bateman parents have a trustee who will be watching very closely to ensure that the students don’t go without.

What Collard is not going to be able to change is the social environment in the school they are being transferred to – that is the real challenge for everyone.


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Just over a minute of pure raw energy - fascinating!

eventsred 100x100By Staff

July 20, 2017




That is something to watch. All that energy.

Quite a show. Video lasts just over a minute.

Runs for just over a minute – astounding, CLICK HERE


Lightning - Sussex

Lightning display over Sussex in the UK yesterday evening

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73 trips up Kerns Road will amount to an elevation of 30,000 feet; a lot of cyclists are going to try and achieve this on Saturday.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

July 19th, 2017



Everesting – do you know what it means?

Think Mount Everest and the attempts that are made to get to the top.

A group has created an event that will have cyclists driving 2.4 km up Kerns Road 73 times which would be equal to the 30,000 feet that has to be climbed to get from the base of Mount Everest to the peak.

The 29,029 vertical feet climb on bikes, over the course of 20 hours, to equal climbing the summit of Mt Everest.

The event is seen as the Ultimate Mind-Body Challenge; this will be the first Everesting attempt in Halton.

The 29,029 vertical feet climb on bikes, over the course of 20 hours, to equal climbing the summit of Mt Everest

When : July 22nd 2017
Where: Kerns Road Burglington Ontario
Start: Lap 1 is 4:30 am eastern

Why? Joey Orfanogiannis.


Joey Orfanogiannis with family and friends

At 6 years old Joey and his family lives were changed forever. On January 4th, 2016 they had to hear the words “your child has cancer”, words that would thrust him into the challenge of his life at a very tender age.

Joey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia “A.L.L.”

When most kids would be counting the minutes until recess, Joey was counting “arm pokes” – how many needles he would receive for blood tests prior to receiving a port into his chest which would become a pathway for chemotherapy and give him a break from all the needles. He would count spinal taps to administer chemotherapy that would protect his brain.

He would face numerous setbacks and painful surgeries coupled with nights that would leave him reeling in pain.

Through it all Joey never wavered and never backed down, he stood tall when most would fall and fought back when most would give up. We are happy to report that Joey is winning the fight with the same determination and looking forward to the word “remission” in March of 2019

Through it all, the statistics for children’s cancer became deeply troubling to his parents.

Aside from cancer being the leading cause of death in children, as well as the medical issues that occur after cancer survival from the heavy medication, one of the scariest facts is that children’s cancer research is grossly and consistently under-funded. It receives just 4% of government funding on an annual basis.

Joey’s parents knew something had to be done and wanted to help in an immediate and impactful way. They knew the challenge needed to be daunting, something that seemed as insurmountable as fighting cancer, and from that idea the Everesting event came to life.

It’s important to remember that no matter how difficult it may be to climb the cumulative height of Mount Everest over nearly 20 hours, it pales in comparison to the challenges faced by Joey and the many children battling cancer every day.

Joey will be running a lemonade stand and all the proceed will be going towards fighting cancer.

Grupetto will be serving coffees starting from 9am till noon.

Riders from the 30 top cycling clubs in the province will be taking part including the elite team Morning Glory from Mississauga and CCF Racing from Burlington.

The road will not be closed – it is seen as a very quiet road in a cycle friendly community.

Anybody can ride and no one will be ask do donate as the riders are coming to support the cause of fighting cancer and to bring awareness about how many kids are affected.

All Proceeds go directly to the Toronto Sick Kids and Montreal Children’s hospital for research funding in support of Pediatric Oncology.

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Director of Education has been through the Administrative Review process before.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2017



With parents from both Lester B. Pearson and Bateman high school having filed requests for an Administrative Review of the Halton District School board decision to close their schools it becomes a bit of a waiting game.

The parent groups sent their documents to the Ministry of Education who then send a copy of that document to the Board of education and ask for a response.

Eric who PARC

Steve Armstrong, Pearson parent

The Board has 30 days to prepare their response. The school board  have various staff members working on different parts of the document which they will compile, edit and send to the Ministry of Education.

Once the complaint and the response are filed the Ministry has to decide to either appoint an Administrative Review facilitator/reviewer or they can choose to reject the AR and not appoint an independent reviewer.

The Board does not expect to make any comment until the Ministry makes a statement.

Stuart Miller, the Halton District School Board Director of Education has been through this process before.

When he was still a principal of an Oakville school there was an Accommodation Review of elementary schools in the area that was appealed to the Ministry.

The facilitator of that Review found that the Board had violated their own policy, (it was a different policy at that time) and ordered that the review had to be re-done.

Shortly after that decision Miller was promoted to Superintendent. He and the Director of Education at the time filed a new review process which the Ministry accepted.

Stuart Miller

Halton Board of Education Director of Education Stuart Miller.

Miller led the second review, under the new policy. The Board adhered to the new policy they had created and in the fullness of time three elementary schools were closed.

Miller said that at the time the policy problem was that the Board had not provided any options for the community to consider.

When the Accommodation Review of the Burlington high school situation took place in June, the Board had put 19 different options on the table. In the Oakville situation the community wanted to develop the options.

In Burlington the trustees had input from the Program Accommodation Review Committee and the 19 options to choose from.

There were 50 + delegations and the result of seven PARC meetings for the trustees to work with – they chose to go with the revised recommendation from the Director of Education.

While the PAR that was used in Burlington was new and there were certainly problems with that process – the decision was still made by the trustees to close two of the seven high schools in the city.

The province may well review the process.

The citizens may well review just who they want to represent them as trustees. They have an opportunity to do that in October of 2018.

The Board is proceeding with the expectation that the Ministry will not call for a formal review. The bulk of the work that has to be done to close the two schools will commence early in the next school year.

While the schools will not have students in them in the 2019 school year for Pearson and 2020 for Bateman the buildings will not be sold until the trustees decide that they are surplus to the Board’s needs. At that time the property can be sold but don’t expect to see the buildings sold to a developer faster than you can say Jack Rabbit.

There is a very strict process as to who the property has to be offered to – private interests are pretty close to the bottom of that list.

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Trustee Collard now begins the hard part - making the Board decision to close two schools actaully work for her constituency.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

July 12, 2017



The decision to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools took place just over a month ago.

Parents with children at the two schools, Lester B. Pearson and Bateman, are still recovering from the shock of the 10-1 vote that closed Bateman and the 8-3 vote that closed Pearson.

The single vote against closing Bateman was cast by trustee Amy Collard who fought valiantly for a different decision. Many are still stunned with the way things worked out.

Amy Collard HDSB trustee

Amy Collard the night that four parents showed up for the public meeting that was held to explain just what the Program Accommodation Review was all about.

Collard was devastated and still does not understand why her fellow trustees could not see the merit in the ideas she put forward.

She felt there was merit in keeping Bateman open and making it part of an arrangement that would have Bateman and Nelson linked as one school with two properties.

Collard saw this as providing a better service for the students from both schools and an opportunity to not spend the $12 million that would be needed to upgrade Nelson for the influx of Bateman students.

Collard’s task now, as she explains, is to ensure that the transition serves the students at Bateman – her job for the balance of this term of office is to hold the Board administration accountable at every possible level.

Bateman parents are fortunate to have a trustee that will go to the lengths Collard has on their behalf. While she was personally devastated with the decision – Collard has accepted it and now wants to get on with the job of serving the Bateman parents and their children.

There was a time when Collard thought she might take a shot at running for the ward 5 seat on city council, currently held by Paul Sharman, “I have abandoned that idea” said Collard. There is work to be done to ensure that the students at Bateman are cared for properly when they are forced to move to Nelson in 2020.

Collard and Miller

Amy Collard the evening it became clear to her that she had the fight of her life on her hands to persuade the Director of Education and her fellow trustees that Bateman could be kept open and should be kept open.

For Collard, the ward trustee, the task is to ensure that the Board lives up to the promises that were made and that the transition benefits the Bateman students.

Not many knew how complex the programs are at Bateman for the disadvantaged and how vital those programs are to the parents. The impact the move is going to have on those parents is hard for most people to fully appreciate. The Board staffer who explained that “it is just a program and programs can be moved” just isn’t aware of what the Community Pathways Program means to hundreds of families.

An issue that no one really wants to talk about but that is critical to the success of any merger of Bateman into Nelson is the environment at Nelson.

Nelson mascot Mar 7-17

Nelson high school has always seen itself as the school to beat. Cocky, confident and with great school spirit.

The early comments on social media about some of the Bateman students were rude, crude and totally unacceptable. Nelson’s culture is significantly different than that of Bateman. It is going to take a principal with a remarkable skill set to oversee the merger and Nelson parents prepared to ensure that the school and their children adapt.

Done poorly this merger could become a disaster.

The Community Placement Program is made up to a large degree of students who need special attention and care. Bateman had a total of 42 Educational Assistants (EA’s) to work with those emotionally disadvantaged students.

The day before our interview with Collard she attended the Bateman graduation ceremony that included a child who is severely disadvantaged from a family that has more than its share of challenges.

The child and her mother were one of the delegations. It was painful to watch the child in a wheelchair struggle to control her body movements – she spoke in short outbursts that was close to impossible to understand. The pride in Collard’s voice when she said the student who graduated wanted to be a writer was palpable.

And why not Stephen Hawking tells us what he has to say from his wheelchair.

Kelly Amos

Halton District School Board chair Kelly Amos.

Collard has served as Chair of the Board of trustees for at least one year.  She ran for that position again this year but was defeated.  She is not seen as a popular person by her colleagues – she doesn’t do the social stuff – for her being a trustee is important and she tends to take the work more seriously than the others.

That is not to suggest that the other trustees are all slackers. There are some promising newcomers; there are others that shouldn’t even be in the room and there are some that have served for some time and served well.

The Gazette does not include Oakville trustee Kelly Amos, the current chair among the latter.

A group of Bateman parents have filed a request for an Administrative Review of Board’s decision to close their schools.

The Pearson high school parents filed their report earlier this month. A copy of the report was published by the Gazette.

When asked if she was involved in the preparing of the Administrative Review request Collard explained that as a trustee she believed her job was to support the decisions made by the Board; not exactly the approach one would expect from a person who worked so hard for a different decision.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

Amy Collard, on the right, is persistent and at times insistent – the probes and makes it clear that she expects informed answers to her questions.

Collard is serving her second term as the trustee for Ward 5 – she was acclaimed in both the 2010 and the 2014 elections.

She views her role through several lenses – ensuring that the promises made by Board staff are met; working with the parents to ensure that their grievances and concerns are addressed and then working with her fellow trustees to do some of the healing she feels needs to take place.

During the lengthy- nine months – process there were very few who spoke publicly for the closure of any schools. There were two – perhaps three people who spoke for the closure of Bateman; one a delegation made by a Central parent who said that keeping Central open and closing Bateman served the best interest of the city.  That was perhaps one of the most gratuitous comments heard during the whole process.

Collard AmyCollard is not popular amongst the other trustees. Being a trustee is not a popularity contest; Collard believes the trustees are there to ask hard questions and to hold the Director and his staff accountable.

One seldom hears tough questions from the other trustees – few come forward with well thought out suggestions. Photo ops are part of the job, visiting schools and being treated with dignity and respect is part of the job.

What the public seldom sees is a trustee asking – Why? They tend to take their cue from the Director of Education and for the most part have failed to understand that the public put them in place to hold that Director accountable for what he and his staff do.

During the nine month period that the PAR process was taking place the trustees chose to say very little. Most said they were collecting data and listening carefully to everything that was being said.

At the same time these same trustees spent well over an hour closely reviewing plans for a new high school that was to be built in Milton. They concerned themselves with the width of hallways, where windows would be placed – the only thing they didn’t do was try to choose the colour of the paint for the walls.

It would have been wonderful to see these same trustees take as detailed an interest in what was about to be done to Bateman, one of the most effective high school operations in the city.

Bateman parents have reported that some of the trustees did not even visit Bateman during the tours that were arranged for them. The Gazette had asked if they could take part in those tours – we were told that taking part would not be appropriate. We would have had an opportunity to see just who did show up.

While not all trustees will agree that their board is a fractured one with policies and procedures that have not served the public well, Collard thinks there is a need for some healing and an opportunity to work together in a setting that is more collegial and informal than a board room.

A retreat would be an excellent idea – the trick is going to be to get everyone to agree to attend and then to have a trained facilitator in the room to draw out the differences and moderate the discussion. Done properly it could be the smartest thing this Board of trustees does.

School board matters get relatively little media attention. Their meetings often run long – very long. They meet more frequently than Burlington’s city council and oversee a much, much larger budget.

The eleven woman who sit on the Board have been known to take part in meetings that have run into 1:00 am in the morning.

Voting by hand

Trustees voting by hand when the vote recording system had been shut down.

During the final debate on the school closing the meeting went past midnight which was when the system that records the votes electronically went off line – the trustees had to hold up their hands to vote.  Time management is a trustee issue that needs to be dealt with.

What the Board of trustees needs most is a clearer sense of purpose and mission. Despite some very impressive evidence and dozens of shortcomings in the Program Administration Review process none of the trustees questioned the process – they chose to remain mute and refusing to get involved until all the evidence was in.

But when the evidence was in – and there was a lot of it – the public saw nothing in the way of trustees asking hard questions and setting out their views on the process that in its final stage required them to make a decision.

They did have the option of directing the board staff to look at the problem in more depth and comeback with detailed recommendations in specific areas.

This is whar classrooms across the Region are going to look like Friday morning. Hopefully it will be bitterly cold while the teachers tramp up and down the side walk outside.

This is whar classrooms across the Region are going to look like Friday morning. Hopefully it will be bitterly cold while the teachers tramp up and down the side walk outside.

What was never made crystal clear was just how many empty high school classroom seats are there?

What was possible in the way of boundary changes to take the pressure of Hayden high school that is well above capacity which would have given Pearson a better chance at staying open?

And would the trustees explain why they voted for a decision that is going to require a $12 million spend to replicate at Nelson high school what already exists at Bateman?

Board staff said what they build will be better – for $12 million one would certainly hope so.

Trustees are elected to represent the interests of their constituents – other than Collard and to a lesser degree Grebenc, it was a dismal demonstration of elected officials serving their public.

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Bateman high school parents file for review of the process used to close their school.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2017



Lester B. Pearson parents filed a request for an Administrative Review of the decision to close their school made by the Board of Education on June 7th. The Gazette will publish their request.

Bateman high school parents have also requested an Administrative Review which they have, so far, decided to not release to the public. The Gazette has asked the Save Bateman Committee to re-think that decision.

Bateman parents

When Bateman parents learned that there school had been recommended for closure they became very active but were not able to develop the momentum to persuade the trustees that they had a strong case for being left open.

We believe that the document is important and should be part of the public record.

The Bateman committee did release the following statement:

“The Save Bateman Committee has filed an administrative review with the Ministry of Education as part of their continuing fight to keep the Burlington high school open.

“The committee compiled a 60-page report which exposes the numerous ways in which the Halton District School Board failed to follow its own review process. It also highlights the severely problematic Program and Accommodation Review (PAR) process which lead to the Board’s Trustees’ flawed decision to close Bateman.

“Bateman parents are asking Education Minister Mitzie Hunter to overturn the decision to close their school and to make her June 28th call for a province-wide moratorium on school closures retroactive.

“With the province finally admitting that their process was flawed, Bateman parents say they must overturn any decisions that were made under that process.

“Trustees voted only 22 days before the Minister’s announcement in which she admitted the process was flawed. It’s just not acceptable that decisions made under that flawed process can stand,” said Bateman parent Lisa Bull.

“The Bateman committee say they have uncovered a litany of problems with the process, including that it did not consider the unique needs of Bateman’s diverse population, especially the special need students. They say there were also breaches to the trustees’ code of conduct in regards to the texting incident that occurred between trustee Leah Reynolds and city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward on June 7th.

“The board also failed to fully explore a collaboration with the Halton Catholic School Board and failed to encourage community partnerships, which are both requirements by the ministry. Despite the fact ward five trustee Amy Collard presented several examples of potential partnerships, including Halton Multicultural Council, Centre of Excellence for Skills and Development and Halton Industry Education Council, they were not pursued.

“The biggest concern for Bateman parents has been that the needs of special education students were not considered in the review. The voices of these students and their families were not listened to around issues such as the risks associates with transitioning medically fragile and developmentally delayed students.

“We want the Ministry to know that we are not simply self-entitled parents who want to keep our kid’s school open,” said Bateman parent Denise Davy. “This decision does not make financial or educational sense because the process to close our school was defective.”

The HDSB has 30 days to respond to the review request and if the it has enough merit to justify the hiring of an independent facilitator to conduct a comprehensive review of the board’s process.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Bateman parents demoonstrate.

Throughout the Program Accommodation Review Bateman has been behind the curve. The parents paid no attention to the issue; there were just three members of the public at the meeting the Board of Education held at Bateman high school.

The sense many had was that Bateman had not been recommended for closure so there was no issue for them.

PAR HDSB Parents at Bateman

Bateman parents at the public meeting held to explain the PAR process – four parents were in the room.

Those who had taken the time to inform themselves could see that Bateman was very much at risk. Bateman parents got involved when the Director of Education changed his position and recommended that Bateman be closed rather than Central high school which was part of the original recommendation.

The Bateman parents were stunned and needed a bit of time to get their act together and tell their story. The unfortunate part of all this is that Bateman had a great story to tell – few, other than the parents with children in some of the programs, particularly the CPP. Were aware of what was taking place.

When Bateman parents did their delegations the public got to see just how effective and relevant those programs were. By that time however Central had cemented the gain they got when the Director changed his position and there wasn’t enough time for Bateman to get their story out.

That the trustees did not manage to grasp the significance of what gets done at Bateman is a part of the larger tragedy.

Reviews to change a decision made by elected officials are hard to overturn. It is easier to elect different trustees.

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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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