Muir sends his comments to the trustees who will decide the fate of two Burlington high schools Wednesday evening.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

June 6th, 2017



I cannot delegate personally at the June 7 Board meeting, so please accept this written delegation for the record.

Accountability of the Trustees and Board

Muir making a point

Tom Muir

You know the time is coming for the Trustees to make decisions about the Board Director’s recommendations about Burlington’s community of schools. In this, it is time to treat the parents, residents, students and community with respect and truth.

It is time for the Trustees, as democratically elected officials, to be accountable to your constituents. The Education Act provides clarity about the responsibility of individual trustees to bring to the board the concerns of parents, students and supporters of
the board.

It provides for the responsibility of the trustees to work with the values, priorities, and expectations of the community to translate them into policy. It is incumbent on trustees to act with integrity, which means with honesty and strong moral and ethical principles.

All the trustees are responsible for the best interests of all students – this means that all trustees are accountable for their actions in regard to Burlington schools, not just schools in their area.

Trustees play an essential role in creating the conditions for: achieving excellence in student learning; ensuring equity and promoting well-being and; enhancing public confidence in publicly funded education.

Enhancing public confidence means ensuring accountability for the use and effective stewardship of resources and public school assets.

My expressions of comment and concern

You also know that I have written you extensively, and provided a great deal of information about the PAR context and process, and my concerns that arise from the factual nature of that, and how the Board actions and behavior is reflected by that body of evidence.

Based on this evidence I have provided over the history of the PAR, and events emerging, it is quite clear that the Board has created an outcome of systematic, conflict-based crisis in Burlington schools and community. There has been an evident failure to enhance public confidence throughout the PAR process.

There have been record numbers of complaints, delegations to the Board, picket lines, demonstrations, protest marches to the Board office, delegations to provincial parliament, complaints to the local MPP and the Minister of Education, testimonials to Burlington schools, and the list can go on as you know.

It seems clear that the failure of the Board to manage and achieve the critical goal of effective utilization, by building what are almost all surplus seats at Hayden, is seen as the root of the present crisis, and conflict, by a large majority of people.

This is the unhealthy, even pathological, consequence of the predominantly defensive strategy used by the Board to control, manipulate, deny, and distort the reality underlying the emergence of the conflicts.

This defense, as offense, is based on the theme of redefining truth, and sticking to the script.

The fact that I had to resort to a Freedom of Information request to get any information at all speaks loudly to the controlling and obstructive manner with which the Board and the Director chose to communicate with residents.

Directives, based on the Education Act, and Guidance documents, state that in carrying out its accountable responsibilities, a board must engage in effective communication with school staff, students and their families, community members, and others. In my experience, and that of others I know of, there was a deliberate failure to engage and communicate on critical matters of facts and truth.

I never received any reply from anyone to my several sets of correspondence and requests for information (other than my FOI), except acknowledgements of receipt and thanks from one trustee to all memos, and similar replies from one trustee to just one memo.

The only effective outcome for the Board was to continue a cover up of the problems asked about for as long as possible. Even my FOI request and response was obstructed, in information provided, and timing.
What is the correct and truthful source of the crisis and conflict?

As I have shown conclusively, with official data, the crisis we face was caused by deliberate and knowing actions by the Board to build the NE Burlington school (now named Hayden) capacity that was not needed based on enrollment trends and utilization expected. The data prove that this is the planned and only cause of the current utilization issues in Burlington schools.

There was no business case in the normally applied manner based on sufficient need for pupil places in excess of seats available, and growing for the foreseeable future.

And on top of that, the Board is now redefining this truth, by using the resultant low utilization, or surplus seats, caused by these past actions, to support the present PAR now, as Condition 1, having failed to act on the foreseeable consequences of the plans they made to build surplus seats, at the time of the planning.

And compounding this, the logic of PAR Condition 2, “that reorganization involving the school or group of schools could enhance program delivery and learning opportunities” is rationalized to follow the lower utilization, as the Board states now, in the present, but failed to, in the past, when it was first created in the plans for Hayden.

This, in fact, reflects another failure to act, by the Board, on the additional foreseeable consequences of the plans made at the time of the planning – failures to act in a responsible, transparent, and accountable manner, pure and simple.

The board is responsible for setting policy relating to facilities, including: maintenance, acquisition and disposal of sites; building renewal plans; and site operation. All policies relating to facilities must first take into consideration requirements related to the achievement and well-being of students of the board.

Despite repeated comments and requests for explanation, I was never able to get the Board to provide such an explanation as to how it included in the Hayden planning such “consideration requirements related to the achievement and well-being of students of the board.”

This means that the decision to build Hayden, and the surplus capacity that it entailed, creating lower utilization in Burlington, would also lead to diminished program delivery and learning opportunities, reduced equity and well being, and less achievement of excellence.

Clearly, if it does this now, then logically, it would have done so then, as part of the plan.

More to the point, these impacts were perfectly predictable, as they would follow from the utilization effects built into the Hayden plan, which they did clearly, and are now present.

As well, and doubly ironic, nowhere does the Board acknowledge the predicted overcapacity occupancy of Hayden now, as a problem in its own right, but contributing to the lower utilization of the other schools, and thus an option to partially relieve that situation.

These outcomes are what the Board is telling us now, through this PAR, will emerge from the lower utilization caused by building Hayden, and so we have to close two schools to correct the surplus they created.

This is used as rationalization for the PAR, and to further entrench the fabricated alternative reality created by the Board, that is creating the conflicts and crisis, and to try and evade being accountable for these actions.

This is the redefinition of truth that the PAR is based on, and this is reflected throughout the trustee debate meeting minutes.

Does the crisis and conflict continue despite knowing the buried truth? What’s happening now?

So what is being discussed in the current PAR debates by trustees is the same thing as would have been discussed if anyone had done their job and considered what such outcomes might be when Hayden was being planned and pushed forward, which would knowingly build surplus seats.

The fact is the Board created comparable loss of equity, opportunity, well-being and excellence to students, in the same measure as they claim now as one reason for the PAR. Before Hayden there was no problem with low utilization, and none in the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, no one, except one or two trustees back in 2008, took their responsibility and accountability seriously, and no one to this day has been called to account for this, and to explain their actions.
Not even in the two debate meetings of trustees was anyone called to account for this. And I have provided a great deal of official evidence to all the trustees, and Director, on this matter, but there is still no mention.

It is on this basis of disavowal of the truth that this PAR process has acquired the potential to be pathological in its impact as an outcome of this deep rooted denial.

Closing two schools in Burlington is certainly pathological. No doubt.

This fact set has been continually repressed, or buried, like a painful and unacceptable thought, and source of anxiety, in a vain attempt to remove it from the PAR awareness.

The Director himself told me that bringing up the Hayden planning and execution would be too dangerous for him politically.

Whatever happened to Ministry guidance about not having conflicts of interest, or letting personal, political motives enter the decisions?

And further, in the debates, the question of why the Director changed his mind about closing Central was raised, and he claimed there was nothing personal or political in that decision.

Then he invoked the untruth that Pearson and Bateman had declining enrollment and utilization trends, when in fact it was the Board building of Hayden that targeted these schools, and others, as the source of students and feeders and programs to fill the surplus seats they built at Hayden, to gross overcapacity.

The declining enrollment and utilization in Burlington schools was created by the Board, and is being sustained for their purposes.

Overall, from the delegate evening I attended, and the minutes of the two evening Board meeting debates on the Director’s final report, the Trustees still appear to be rejecting the fact that they are debating an untruthful reality, provided to them by the Board and sustained by the Director.

The buried truth I described appears as an unacceptable idea altogether, that is incompatible with their image of the PAR, and their anxious struggle to deal with the crisis and conflicts emerging from their distorted reality, refusal to be openly accountable for that, or hold responsible parties accountable by asking for explanations.

They apparently behave as if this defensive denial of the facts, that actually happened, never occurred, and appear as though they are stuck in a Director provided alternative reality and set of alternative facts.
The Director and senior staff are inflexible and intransigent in the debate, sticking to the script of their redefined reality.

What stands out in the debates?

In the minutes of the trustee debate meeting these few, but telling instances emerge.

1. The very first point raised in the debates was;

“A. Collard asked about ways to reinforce programming and boundaries at Robert
Bateman High School. S. Miller indicated initial discussion around the original
recommendation should precede any additional options requiring further
investigation. G. Cullen commented on the surplus that would still exist with a
twinned school concept.”

Mr Cullen was part of the senior management team back in 2008 and forward on the Hayden plan. He knew all about the consequences built in, and flowing from that plan, but there is no record that he ever warned about the surplus seats results built into the plan, or the utilization and program impacts that might flow from that.

But here he is now, making the “surplus” the very first, and only, thing he says in answer to the trustee’s question. No mention of past actions.

I was also surprised that a senior staff member, Steven Parfeniuk, that was also closely and chiefly involved with the Hayden plan and the Ministry on that file in 2008 and forward, as then Superintendent of Business for HDSB, and would know about everything I have raised, was not questioned, or otherwise revealed as present at the meeting.

This suggests to me that the trustees are in denial with staff, and there was no serious effort to get to the truth of how this crisis and conflict happened, and to call out those responsible to be accountable.

2. Much of the May 17 debate content is about implementing the recommendations and school closures, and how the integration, transitions, and general impacts of closures would be handled.

Of course, in a mechanical sense, movements, integration, and transitions, under closures are forced, and are managed as matters of fact – you just do it. Staff and Director replies were rationalizations of what they will do, and generally, everything sounded as if without harm.

With a very few notable exceptions, although they are in there I must say, I did not sense any real effort to explore adaptive and innovative options to recognize the significance of every school, and how each contributes to the excellence, equity, and well-being of all the students.

I saw no mention of how closing any school does not in any way enhance public confidence, which, along with Board credibility, has been sorely lost in this PAR.

The continued refusal to admit that past Board actions created this crisis and conflict, and so there is a need for appeasement and righting of this egregious wrong, is notable.

This is particularly disturbing given that the Trustees have been provided with all the official and factual information that I was able to collect, and parent and public debate and information, that conclusively prove this, but yet the debate never mentions it, explains it, or accounts for it..

As I said before, enhancing public confidence means ensuring accountability for the use, and effective stewardship, of resources and public assets for the delivery of a strong educational system attuned to individual needs.

I do not see how closing Bateman, in particular, home of the most needy, and apparently an international success story, is attuned to individual needs.

I sensed from some trustee comments, that they take low utilization schools as somehow deficient in their service to students. To me this signifies the trustees are deliberately blind to the fact of Hayden causing the utilization crisis they are in, and that staff and the Board didn’t think about this at all when Hayden was planned and built.

And for sure, they aren’t going to tell anyone about that now.

3. A very notable exchange on the central problem causing the crisis, and the continued rigid and closed approach of the Director is as follows:

“A. Collard provided her perspective on the transportation issues at Hayden. She
also spoke to catchment area for Robert Bateman High School, suggesting
expanding the area to include more than Frontenac Public School. D. Renzella
and S. Miller spoke to the existing catchment area and feeder schools that are
11 directed to Robert Bateman High School. S. Miller commented on the impact of
reversing decisions made by previous Boards of Trustees, specifically redirecting
students or changing catchment areas to move approximately 200 students from
Nelson High School to Robert Bateman High School, and/or moving students from
the Orchard community from Dr. Frank J. Hayden to Robert Bateman. He
commented this does little more than shuffle the deck, and does not address the
underlying issue. Currently five of the six Burlington secondary schools have low
enrolments; boundary changes as described would perpetuate the issue and may
result with all six of the schools underutilized”.

I find that this personifies the Board created source of the crisis and conflict stemming from their alternative reality explanation of what caused it, and continues it.

Again, he ignores that building Hayden caused the surplus seats, the utilization issue, and any program issues that are asserted to result.

The Directors view is, that’s a mistake, but too bad, so the best he can offer is to sweep this accountability under the rug in the name of, “we can’t just shuffle the deck”, and because, as he said to me, it’s too political for him to handle.

Then the Director reverses this political abstention by telling the trustees that reversing decisions made by previous boards, to change boundaries/catchments, feeders, program locations, and other student shifting, is somehow problematic, and he cautions against it.

I repeat again, this is exactly how all the students in Burlington were reallocated, or shuffled like a deck, to fill Hayden to gross overflowing, with no current plan to do anything about that, whatever the consequences.

I don’t see anything wrong with underutilization – gross overutilization at Hayden seems to be okay with the Board and Director.

Shuffling the deck can work if it’s tried, because the underlying issue to everyone I know is that the closing of schools he recommends is a crisis for Burlington schools, and he offers nothing else.

So the Director, in my opinion, is getting subtly but frankly political in advising trustees that this power, which is a key tool in their kit, should not be used as an option to alleviate the crisis, and stop the conflict.

In other words, don’t solve the crisis by doing what others before you did to cause it.

That would recognize and acknowledge it happened, by digging up the truth.

If the Director and trustees want to be inflexible and intransigent, it will be impossible to get enhanced public confidence again.

I suggest that if schools are closed with no accountability for how it was caused and done, the conflict will not end.

Those who are rigid and closed will succeed only in isolating themselves.

Board credibility depends on coming clean and being contrite.

It will not come from actions by some Trustees congratulating the Board and Trustees for “due diligence”, or defensively mentioning that some people emailed support for the recommendations.


This delegation turned into another long one for at least two reasons.

First, the end of the PAR is near, as are whatever decisions trustees are going to make. So this is my last chance to communicate with you before this process comes to a close.

Second, my delegation reflects all the pent up frustration, and conflict-induced outrage, that I have seen in many others, and experienced myself, in this PAR process, and in interacting with an unresponsive, but one-time to me, frankly manipulative, Board staff and Director.

So you are again, as the elected and accountable decision-making body, justifiably on the receiving end of my analysis and opinion.

My final advice to you today is the following.

In your decisions to be made, Trustees are ill-advised to follow recommendations from people who have consistently been wrong about, well, everything. That’s a natural consequence of the redefinition of truth. The whole truth always wants to get out into the light.

And most of all troubling, this is by design from the start.


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Parent sets out what the public expects of its trustees - Accountability, Creativity, Empathy, Integrity, Equity and Collaboration

opinionandcommentBy Staff

June 6th, 2017

Burlington, ON


A parent from the Lester B. Pearson high school delegated to the school board trustees a few weeks ago and asked some very pointed questions. They are worth a close look as parents wait to learn what the trustees will decide to do Wednesday evening on the matter of closing high schools in the city of Burlington where there are more seats than needed for the number of students who will attend high schools in the foreseeable future.

Dine lbp

Diane Miller, Lester B. Pearson high school parent delegating to trustees.

There is considerable debate about the accuracy of the Board’s enrollment projections but that was not the what Dianne Miller wanted to talk about.

“There are a couple of threads I would like to weave this evening. My starting point is Director Miller’s own words: “We did not go into this (field) to close schools”. Miller wanted there to be a discussion with determination and exhaustive input from all parties impacted by the decision that will be made tomorrow evening.

“What voices have been included in the process “asked Miller and “which ones have been missing? She suggested looking at the issue from the Board’s perspective


The words are highlighted in the Board’s multi-year plan.

“Has due diligence been met in each area. I would argue no.

“Creativity and Collaboration stand out to me as areas deeply flawed in this process by missing partners. “Where has the voice of the teachers been? They are with our children for almost seven hours of the day. Yet they have been kept silent and not given a place at the discussion table. The ones who are told to dig deep, to be creative with our children were not involved in solving a problem impacting those very same children we entrust with their education.

“What about the students. My son and daughter felt their voices were not heard in the process. One felt it was “a done deal”, the “other distraught” at the thought of her school being segmented. Besides the student survey why are they not represented at the PARC table? We hold contests, Think Bowls, Scientific, Robotic, and Math competitions all utilizing their brains…but not on how to save their school. “None of the questions in the student survey touched on their creativity / ingenuity for keeping their school off the chopping block so to speak. Yet they, just like their teachers, are most impacted by this decision.

“Mental Wellness Professionals – why were they not given a seat at the table. LBP was deliberately built as a smaller school setting. A school to provide for relief for the over-crowding at MMR. How ironic that it is poised to be a solution to Hayden in the same capacity and yet this time instead of relief it faces closure. Study upon study reflects the benefit of a 600-800 high school student population. The benefits have already been highlighted by past speakers. Bateman serves a broad sector of student education needs. Yet, no seat was given at the PARC table as to the impact of these school closures. “Where are the union representatives? Why are they quiet in this process?

“Today, as the public, we are given 5 minutes to race through our concerns in person. How is our voice really being heard face-to-face in a meaningful two-way discussion?

“Issues that as a group we could have raised and discussed are innovative ideas. Ways to address under-utilization by renting out of some spaces to community partners – tutoring businesses; Driver’s Ed; other co-op programs such as the LBP Co-op Nursery. As a collective we could have discussed ESL needs at a north/south school – a hub especially since the board likes and wants (and is) to attract students from abroad as high school students into the fold.

“Has the latter even been considered in the student numbers/projections? We could have (and have for LBP) provided resolutions to overcrowding issues at one school and under-utilization at another. Members of the LBP Committee got creative – because they flipped the issue. Instead of taking the premise of – we have underutilization and programming – tell us which schools to close; they started with the “we did not go into the field of closing schools” and came up with ways to in fact make that a true statement. How we are even seriously discussing the closure of a school in the north is beyond logic given the growth.

“Equity – why don’t we give equal weighting and concern to over-crowding as to under-utilization. We heard that 90% is the required utilization but have never, ever heard what the comfort level is for the over-utilization. Given some are projected (your numbers) for 110% or 140%…what is that acceptable %? it is unacceptable to make plans for permanent over-utilization, particularly in a growing area. Too risky. This is what happened to Hayden, now bursting. What number of portables is too many?

“Accountability – who is accountable for incorrect decisions? Who is accountable for short term vs. long term thinking? Who is accountable to the students, the parents, the community, the teachers, when they do not feel included or that they have been heard?

“Empathy – it goes beyond feeling and knowing others are struggling with our decisions. It means we walk in their shoes. Walking in them means we understand how our decisions will impact each and every student within our care. It means we want to have done due diligence, left no stone unturned, left no voice out, and have explored all possibilities before we close a school (let alone two). Let’s hit pause and not feel pressured to move forward with any decision that we are not 100% sure on or that we feel can be justified.

“Be a visionary. Be creative. Be innovative. Be accountable. Be empathetic. Be collaborative in the fullest sense of the word by including all voices at the table. Help this process and the ultimate decision be one that does uphold the integrity of the duty entrusted into your care…our children and financial resources (yes, $12 million in renovations to duplicate Bateman at Nelson is not fiscally responsible).

“So please hear my voice, and the voice of many others. Hear the voice of those who feel defeated in the community. Do not close these schools – they are not just bricks and mortar they beat with the hearts of our students. Partner with us to find a solution that works to solve what generated the PAR in the first place. Work not in silos but in collaboration with the community to come up with a viable solution. We are counting on you.

That is about as good as a delegation can be. Were the trustees listening – was Diane Miller heard?

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School board trustee puts ideas with real meat on the bones in front of her peers - they could keep Bateman open.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

June 5th, 2017



Right from the very beginning Ward 5 Halton District School Board trustee Amy Collard was paying very close attention to what was being said about high school closures in Burlington. While the Robert Bateman high school was not recommended for closure by the Director of Education in his initial report, Collard was acutely aware that its distance from Nelson high school – less than 2km to the west – made it a closure possibility.

FIRE Bateman principal at siren

Bateman principal Mark Duley could not have know he was going to have to sound an alarm and tell parents that there school was at risk. Dudley was using a fire alarm during a student cook off against Burlington fire fighters

The Bateman parents didn’t have their ears to the ground but Principal Mark Duley knew his school was vulnerable.

Because they didn’t feel at risk – the Bateman parents did next to nothing as the Program Accommodation Review Committee wound its way through the seven meetings they held. There were exceptions: Sharon Picken and Lisa Bull, the Bateman members of the PARC, worked very hard to get the Bateman story out. They didn’t realize Bateman was going to end up on the PARC list of schools that could be considered for closure until the third PARC meeting when Bateman was added to the numerous options that were before the PARC.

When the Director of Education revised his initial recommendation and took Central high school off the list and added Bateman, a community that was not ready for the fight of their lives had to pull together. Unfortunately, the Bateman community turned on the Central high school people and accused them of “throwing Bateman under the bus” when what they needed to do was get their story out.

PARC with options on the walls

The PARC met on seven occasions and turned out to be a lot more deliberative than Board staff expected. Two parents from each high school served the community very well.

With the PAR committee disbanded the trustees got to hear the delegations – there were 51 of them delivered over two long evening sessions. The Bateman story was very effectively told – what no one could tell for certain was – were the trustees listening; more importantly were they hearing?

Disabled #2

A single parent, deaf, mother of two using sign language to communicate. Her daughter, a severally disabled child takes part in the Community Pathways Program at Bateman high school.

Each delegation had five minutes to tell their story and an additional five minutes for the trustees to ask questions – there just weren’t that many really good questions from the trustees.

The public learned Bateman had an auto body paint shop that was close to world class – the equipment had been donated by Toyota; students from that program had gone on to win competitions on the other side of the world.

There was a welding program that was getting excellent reviews and a culinary program that was very popular. The biggest plus was the   Community Pathways Program (CPP) that educated, nurtured and cared for exceptionally vulnerable students.

During the delegations there was a single parent who was deaf and used sign language to communicate with her daughter who was unable to control her bodily functions – but her mind seemed to be sharp. Watching the delegation was a heart wrenching experience. There were other parents with children in the Community Pathways Programs (CPP) who delegated very effectively,

Other than the parents of these children and other students at the high school few knew they were there. It was a truly amazing delegation to watch.

Dine lbp

Diane Miller, a Pearson high school parent, reminds trustees of the Board’s purpose.

Denise Davy, a skilled advocate brought her experience to the fight – and it was a fight. She got decent CHCH television coverage and delegated very effectively at city hall as well.

But nothing changed.

The response from the Board staff was that these were all programs that could be replicated at Nelson high school where much of the Bateman program was headed if Bateman was closed in 2019

The auto body paint shop – the one at Nelson would be even better; welding – same thing – the Board staff told anyone who asked that the move would give the Board a chance to upgrade everything. They were a little weak on the details.

The transformation from Bateman to Nelson – not a problem – every time the Board staff did a transformation they got better at it, they said.

It was a trust issue and the public, at least for those who were involved in the school closing issue, just did not believe senior staff or the Director of Education.

Board staff seemed blissfully unaware of the depth of that distrust. There were parents who went over the top emotionally – they were the exceptions.

There were also some solid, fact filled delegations that pointed up serious flaws in the way the Board staff had created catchment area boundaries and the selection of the feeder schools.

The Board Planning department seemed prepared to give out whatever information they felt would serve their immediate purpose – then later give significantly different information to an almost identical question.

It struck many as a level of manipulation designed to give the Board staff what they wanted rather than what was best for the community. The Board staff philosophy seemed to be larger high schools offered better program opportunities for students. Much of the evidence from the Board’s research didn’t support that contention.

Collard and Miller

Ward 4 trustee Amy Collard held Director of Education Stuart Miller\s feet to the flames and didn’t give an inch with her persistent questioning during the Board information session.

When the Director’s second recommendation came out with Bateman on the list of schools to be closed, the activists at Bateman accused the Central parents of throwing them under the bus and things got very nasty.

The issue was now before the trustees and Amy Collard was now able to do what she had been wanting to do – get some ideas on the table and find the solutions that would prevent the closing of a school.

There was a public hungry for information but there wasn’t much the trustees could do up to this point.

They had created a Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) then they had to stand back and let that committee do its work.

Collard, along with all the other trustees, had to sit on their hands, while two parents from each of the seven high schools discussed the options that were before them and began narrowing a long list down to a short manageable list.

The PARC did a lot more than Board staff expected – while they didn’t disband with a consensus they did narrow down the options – from the 30 they were given, to which they added a dozen or so – got narrowed down to five.

The surprise for the people at Bateman was that they were now on the list of schools that were being considered for closure.

When the PARC came to an end it was time for the public to delegate. There were 51 of those heard over two public meetings.

For the first time the public got a sense of what Bateman was really all about. The depth and significance of their programs had not been discussed openly. The parents with children in the school knew the story – the public hadn’t heard it in so much detail.

Bateman had a superb story that wasn’t told until public delegations were heard;  by that time they were fighting an uphill battle.

LBP George Ward + Rory Nisen

Rory Nisan on the left exchanging contact information with George Ward, a parent who was active when Lester B. Pearson was created as a community school – an experiment that worked but which the current school board administrative leadership does not appear to want to continue,

Lester B. Pearson had a story as well– about how they had been stiffed by their Board with hardly a word from the trustees and less than a peep from the ward trustee.

Pearson had had the bulk of its feeder school taken away from them and given to Hayden high school where the overcapacity was approaching the 140% level.

The delegations ranged from some rather silly ideas to emotive pleas from parents to not close “their” school. There were also a number of very good delegations – excellent as a matter of fact.

Each of the trustees reacted differently to the delegations – some had strong relationships with the schools they were responsible for and they worked their connections. Others clearly didn’t understand what their job was and others failed to reach their potential as trustees.

The public isn’t at all aware of how hard these women work. While they grapple with a very significant closing schools decision, they are working their way through the budget – the school board is the biggest employer in the Region.

They meet weekly, which we don’t see at the municipal level. They are for the most part diligent and struggling to fully understand the longer term impact of what they decide to do on the June 7th.

Hayden High, Burlington's newest high school built as part of a complex that includes a Recreational Centre and a public library with a skate park right across the street.

Hayden High, Burlington’s newest high school built as part of a complex that includes a Recreational Centre and a public library with a skate park right across the street.

It was a decision to create the Hayden high school in Alton made in 2008 that started a series of events that put the Board of Education in the position it is in now.

To add to the really messy situation is the way the Board of Education communicates with its public. Director of Education Stuart Miller has been very direct and said on more than one occasion that the Board doesn’t do a very good job at communicating with the public.

Add to that some parents whose emotions got the better of them and made statements that were just not true.

It has been a very difficult story to cover


Trustee Amy Collard.

Collard who has more Board experience than the other three Burlington trustees, has been very proactive in looking for solutions. She hasn’t always gotten the attention many of her ideas deserve but that hasn’t deterred her in the least,

Following the delegations was an “information” meeting of the Board during which Staff set out to defend the recommendation that the Director had presented the trustees.

Collard was the first person to put a question to Director Miller when the information session started – which he basically said he wasn’t going to answer.

Miller was surprised and caught off guard – he was expecting to be able to explain his decision and position now that the PARC had done its job and the trustees had heard all the delegations.

Miller was there to defend his recommendation which Collard wasn’t buying. Each trustee had many opportunities to ask questions of the Director’ recommendation and to pepper him with questions based on the material that came out of the PARC and the 51 delegations.

How did they do? They asked a lot of questions and Miller along with his Planning manager Dom Renzalla and PARC Chair Scott Podrebrac handled them reasonably well.

The “information” session went much longer than many expected – they were still at it when the Chair chose to recess the meeting for a week – and come back at it again.

During each of these session Collard kept hammering away at what could and should be done with Bateman.

The senior Board staff kept giving the trustees smooth assurances that the transition from what is in place now to what they will end up will go just fine.

A number of the trustees weren’t buying that line.

Gerry Cullen

Gerry Cullen, Superintendent of Facilities, explaining why much of the data he provided kept changing.

Gerry Cullen, Superintendent of Facilities was already measuring Nelson for the influx it was going to experience with the number of programs that would be transferred from Bateman to Nelson in 2019.

Collard’s objective is to keep the Robert Bateman high school open – and she has put two possibilities on the table.

1) Develop a partnership between Bateman and Nelson

Students from both schools could attend classes at either school. This would increase the breadth of program offered to all students.

Students in Essential, Community Pathways and

International Baccalaureate programs would continue at Bateman without disruption.

The commercial grade kitchen facilities at Bateman would continue to be viable.

Centennial Swimming Pool would be accessible to all students at both schools.

The auditorium and stadium at Nelson would be accessible to all students at both schools.

The OYAP and SHSM programs offered at each school would be available to students at both schools.

Collard said the operationalization of this idea would need to be determined. Her preliminary thoughts as to how it might be accomplished included:

Each school continuing to offer the full suite of required courses – as well as the specialized programs that are already in place – to the students in their current catchment area. Students wishing to participate in courses offered at the alternate campus could decide to take their entire course load or half of their course load (morning or afternoon) for that semester at that campus. Regional programs would continue to be offered at their current locations.

centennial pool - inside

Centennial Pool, which is attached to Bateman high school will become a bit of an orphan if the high school is closed.

Each school might offer specific courses – for example Students in Grade 9 regular English program could have Physical and Health Education and French at Bateman in the morning periods and Math and English at Nelson in the afternoon periods. This would give all Grade 9 English program students at both schools access to Centennial pool for their Physical and Health Education program.

Shuttle bus – it is about a 20-30 minute walk between Bateman and Nelson, so they may want to provide a shuttle service between the two schools.

Collard argues that this approach increases equity of access to program for all students at Bateman and Nelson and it increases equity of access to facilities, including the Commercial Grade Kitchen, Automotive and Welding Shops, Auditorium, Greenhouse for all students at Bateman and Nelson. It also does away with the emotionally difficult transitions for students in Essential or Community Pathways Programs

Bateman students

Bateman International Baccalaureate students delegating before Board trustees

This approach also eliminates the need to move the International Baccalaureate Program from Bateman to Central high school – problem with that is Central needed those IBL students to get its enrollment numbers up – and – the IBL has a certain cachet to it that Central would like to acquire.

Collard pointed out the her suggestion reduce renovation costs at Nelson which were set at $12 million.  The suggestion preserves the ability to maintain the YMCA Daycare at Bateman and ensures the viability of Centennial Pool and increases access to extracurriculars for all students.

Collard does concede that the suggestions does require some creative logistical efforts – especially in the first year of implementation

Transportation might be required to ensure students can attend classes at both campuses – these costs might be mitigated since students living in the eastern area of the Bateman catchment (who would be redirected to Nelson if Bateman were to close) would not require transportation to Nelson.

Creating community partnerships:

Collard also saw some significant opportunities for real Community Partnerships. The unique specializations offered at Bateman have considerable community appeal. The Commercial Grade Kitchen at Bateman could be used in a partnership with the Halton Multicultural Council (HMC) to help newcomers to Canada learn hospitality skills that can lead to gainful employment. Collard had a conversation with the Executive Director at HMC who happen to be seeking a space in which to provide this type of program.

Bateman offers skilled trades that aren’t currently available at The Centre for Skills and Development; specifically automotive and culinary. A partnership with The Centre could be beneficial to the community.

Collard has done what parents have a right to expect from their Board of Education trustees.  She has been both proactive and innovative. One cannot say as much for the ward 4 trustee. The high school in that ward, Lester B. Pearson, has gotten more support from the city Councillor who has zero clout on the high school closing issue.

Collard is not a popular trustee. She doesn’t expect to win a popularity contest; she wants to do the job she was elected to do. She was acclaimed as the ward trustee during the past two municipal elections. She served one session as vice chair of the Board and has sought the votes of her peers to serve as Chair – that has not been forthcoming.

Collard is abrupt, she is direct. She tends not to get into much of the chit chat with the other trustees.

But – and this is important – she is the only trustee who has put a solution, an alternative, on the table. Her fellow trustees may not follow her lead – but they can and should give her ideas full debate and consideration. If they cannot accept her approach they might want to look at option 7 – don’t close any of the schools – until there has been a more fulsome and through debate.

Denise Davy made a very significant point when she noted that the city of Burlington spent more time and debate on deciding where to put the Freeman Station than the school board has spent on closing two high schools

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BurlingtonGreen sponsors a film on bikes vs cars - guess who wins?

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

June 6, 2017



The next BurlingtonGreen event is a film presentation on Bikes versus card – a must see movie for the Gazette commentators who regular toss barbed comments at each other.

Wednesday, June 7th – a look at both the struggle for bicyclists in a society dominated by cars, and the revolutionary changes that could take place if more cities moved away from car-centric models.

Wednesday, at 6:30 pm – Central Library, 2331 New Street, Burlington

$5 admission (free for BG members).

Following the film, there will be time for audience discussion about the challenges and opportunities for cycling in Burlington with our event guests from the Burlington Cycling Advisory Committee.
Click here to see the film trailer.


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There was a 9% increase in charges laid during the 2017 Canada Road Safety Week from the 2016 campaign.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 5, 2017



During the period of 16-22 May, uniform and plainclothes officers from across all areas of the Halton Regional Police Service supported the National driving campaign known as ‘Canada Road Safety Week’, conducting a heightened level of traffic enforcement on area roadways.


Regional police enforcing highway traffic act during May long weekend – 9% more charges laid in 2017.

Officers focused on what has become known as the ‘Big 3 Killers’ on our roads, including aggressive driving, distracted driving and impaired operation by alcohol or drug.

During the seven days of enforcement, which ended with the conclusion of the Victoria Day Long Weekend, Halton Police laid a total of 2,082 Provincial offence charges, commonly known as “traffic tickets”.

This total represents a 9% increase from the 2016 campaign, when 1,903 charges were laid. The top three charges included:

1. Speeding;
2. Documentary infractions including licensing and insurance; and
3. Disobey stop sign – fail to stop.

Interesting to note that distracted driving was not one of the top three.

During this campaign, Halton Police conducted a variety of enforcement, including RIDE, to specifically address the ongoing concern of motorists choosing to drive while impaired.

14 drivers were either driving with over 80mgs of alcohol in their system, or refused to provide a breath sample, which resulted in a criminal charge, 90-day licence suspension and 7-day vehicle impound.

3 drivers were driving impaired by drug, which resulted in a criminal charge, 90-day licence suspension and 7-day vehicle impound.

23 drivers were driving in the alcohol warn range, with roadside breath testing resulting in 3/7/30-day roadside suspensions.

1 driver was driving in the drug warn range, with the DRE/SFST test resulting in a 3/7/30-day roadside suspension.

In contrast, 12 motorists were arrested and charged in 2016 with impaired driving related offences including impaired by drug.

Halton Police ask the public who  observe a vehicle being operated in a manner which places you or anyone else in danger, please call 911 for an immediate police response (#makethecall911).

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I was wondering - she asked: would you promote the Save Our School Walk?

eventspink 100x100By Pepper Parr

May 31st, 2017



“Hope all is well” she said and added “hope you are enjoying today’s beautiful weather.”

The she added: “ I was wondering if you would be so kind as to promote the Save Our School Walk which is this Saturday, June 3rd at 11 am .

Delegation May 8 HDSB

Some of the Pearson high school parents during delegation night at the Board of Education.

The Walk is a last minute effort by the parents whose children attend the Lester B. Pearson high school that has been recommended for closure in 2018.

It is a high school that has been hornswoggled by the Board when the feeder schools they once had got attached to Hayden high school – which was a death sentence for Pearson – but they are going to do whatever they can between now and June 7th when the eleven Board of Education trustees decide what to do.

Join the walk!LBP JUNE 3RD WALK FINAL VERSION - (1) (1)

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Attempts to access your sensitive data come in at the rate of several every day - you have to be vigilant.

ID theft damageBy Staff

May 31, 2017



They come in at the rate of a couple every day.

Most of them are immediately evident as phishing attempts and they get discarded.

From time to time there is a message that catches the eye (we once got caught by a United State Postal Service scan – we were expecting a parcel and we thought this was a part of the delivery notice)

This scam was aimed at TD Bank customers – we don’t bank with TD so we knew it was a phishing attempt.
However for those people who are TB Bank customers it might have read as a real notice and you might have responded.

TD scam - authentification

The use of a photograph can be deceiving.

Whenever there is something important – your bank calls you. They don’t want to lose you as a customer over what is a technical matter.

This one was good – look it over and see if you can identify the flaws.

Remember the cardinal rule – if in doubt – don’t.

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Regional police are asking high school students to take the distracted driving pledge - #TextULater

News 100 redBy Staff

May 30, 2017



The City of Burlington, Halton District and Halton Catholic District School Boards, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and the Ministry of Transportation, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) will officially kick-off its Distracted Driving Pledge (#TextULater) pilot campaign.

Starting Monday, June 5, HRPS High School Liaison Officers will visit high schools throughout Burlington, encouraging students to take the #TextULater Pledge and challenging others to do the same.

Deputy Chief Nishan Duraiappah pleads his innocence to the charge of Grand Theft Donuts, looking on is Halton Regional Police Detective Constable Paul Proteau.

Deputy Chief Nishan Duraiappah has always worked well with the high school crowd – hopefully he will be doing some of the teaching.

Deputy Chief Nish Duraiappah, Sergeant Jared McLeod, Burlington District Response Team and Initiative Creator and the community partners, including the City of Burlington, school boards, agencies and high school students are going to be involved in this one – a full Monty from everyone

The Regional police have always been able to work with high school students and explain the very real consequences of their behavior.

Two Nelson high school students do their best to stay on the green line wearing Fatal Vision goggles during a HAlton Regional Police RIDE program.

Two Nelson high school students do their best to stay on the green line wearing Fatal Vision goggles during a Halton Regional Police RIDE program.

A number of years ago the HRPS worked with Nelson high school students demonstrating the effect alcohol had on their ability to respond to what was going on around them – making it very very clear that driving wasn’t really possible with alcohol above the limit in their bodies.

Let’s hope they can do as well with getting the distracted driving message across – then of course there is the marijuana message once that product is legal.

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Museum gets $4.5 million in federal funding - re-development and rebuild is now a sure thing.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 26th, 2017



Museum - Vollick

Town Crier David Vollick gets the announcement meeting off to a good start. For $4.5 million – he really rang that bell.

The cheque was just short of $4.5 million but the happy faces at the Joseph Brant Museum this morning were not quibbling.

Museum Teatero

Barbara Teatero, Executive Director Museums of Burlington

A project that started 22 years ago when the first report was produced and became the life work of Barbara Teatero was made real with the federal government announcement that the renovation – rebuild of the Museum is now funded.

It is going to cost considerably more than $4,479,000 to do all the work that is planned but without the federal money the project was never going to break ground.

Museum Doyle

John Doyle

Museum Larry Waldron

Larry Waldren

John Doyle and Larry Waldron wore smiles that came close to lighting up the room that had 40+ people crammed into it while Town Crier Dave Vollick rang his bell and proclaimed the way only Vollick can proclaim that the museum was going to go through a significant change.

Construction schedules are being worked out – tenders will have to be let and scheduling completed.
Allan Magi had to tell city council a number of months ago that he was faced with a very challenging problem – organizing the construction without knowing for certain that the money was in the bank.

The Capital Works department will now be able assemble the internal team and begin with a project that will add another cultural destination for people who choose to visit Burlington.

Museum _Joseph_Brant_architects_drawing

Architect’s rendering of what the new Joseph Brant Museum could look like when it opens.

The new museum will have triple the space of the existing facility; the hope is that the space will be able to attract top tier travelling exhibits to the city.

While the politicians were doing what they do with words Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven cast a glance toward Doyle and raised an eyebrow and tipped his head – they had pulled it off.

Museum Brant house sign

Those waters were the view that Joseph Brant had each morning when he stepped out of his house that was on what he described as Burlington Bay. That path in the middle of the picture was once a two track railway line into the town.

It was a big day – it will take a couple of years to get to the Opening Day – and a fitting one for Joseph Brant who made Burlington his home for the last years of his life.

What will he think when the new Museum is opened?

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Parents want to ensure that their interests and the interests of their children get the attention they need.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 24th, 2017



Steve Armstrong is an engineer by training working in the field of software development.

He hasn’t gotten much of his day job work done recently – he has become consumed by the machinations and the flow of information that has taken place during the public discussion of whether or not high schools in Burlington should be closed and if so, which schools and for what reasons.

Eric who PARC

Steve Armstrong

Last week Armstrong and Denise Davy met with “policy advisors at the Ministry of Education and had a good discussion with a few people. Afterwards we also met up with couple of NDP MPPs, Monique Taylor (Critic, Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities and Critic, Children and Youth Services) and Peggy Sattler (education critic).

Monique and Peggy both suggested keeping the heat up on our MPP, Eleanor McMahon.

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon and Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter have been closely following this process and apparently have had meetings with a number of Board people.

Armstrong said he was told “the province won’t intervene at this time because a decision hasn’t been made, and they want to respect the process”, BUT they do agree it’s better for everyone involved if the correct decision gets made in the first place. Since that lies with the Trustees at this point we need to keep informing them of facts in play.

“What I would like to see is Eleanor and Mitzie facilitating a meeting with the Trustees to allow some reasoned voices to talk to gaps in the process. Perhaps this could be the PARC members in direct dialogue with the Trustees but either way the Ministry resonated with my concern about a lack of meaningful engagement.”

Armstrong reflects the widely held public view that the first Public meeting in December did not fulfill its goal but rather made things worse….”it was a live survey with poor questions and allowed no dialogue with attendees.”

The PARC meetings went from a focus on decisions about what options to remove early on to finally talking about creative ideas at the last meeting…completely backwards.

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Steve Armstrong with Cheryl DeLught

Armstrong maintains that Director of Education Stuart Miller had told students that PARC members would be engaging with them. But that morphed into a survey which PARC members were denied participation in setting up questions that we might want.”

Armstrong adds that “staff were left out of this important process, and although apparently a heavily redacted set of comments have been made available to Trustees that was done after the PARC was disbanded so there was no chance of building on their input.

Armstrong said there has been no meaningful engagement with the city.

He adds that the second and third Public meetings were constructed differently than what the PAR committee had been told would happen.

Parents in front of maps

Functional breakouts (Finance, Building services etc) in which all Options where present didn’t meet the needs of the parents.

“We were told it would be a short presentation up front followed by stations focused on individual options to be interactively discussed with the public.

“Instead they skipped the presentation and went with functional breakouts (Finance, Building services etc) in which all options where present. Overall it lead to a lack of cohesion.”

Armstrong reports that the Ministry was also concerned when it learned that not all Trustees have visited the schools in play. “I’m lead to believe” said Armstrong “that there has been discussion with the four Burlington Trustees and the Ministry/MPP but think all 11 need to be reminded of their duties and expectations with regard to engagement.”

It is time for the trustees to step up to the plate and be responsible and accountable to the people that elected them. At the last Information session of the Board we had a trustee with two schools that are in play, with one threatened with closure asking questions of Board staff about a school that wasn’t even in her ward.

Another trustee was in the que for asking questions and when it came to her turn she had forgotten what her question was.

Collard and Miller

Amy Collard eye-balling Stuart Miller

This is irresponsible behavior from people who are desperately needed to act on behalf of their constituents and not be so cozy with the Director of Education. He is accountable to them, something that Stuart Miller fully understands and will respond to – the trustees have to set the bar – they have yet to do so.

The exception is Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard – she has been relentless with not only Miller but every other staff member she has put questions to.

The other trustees can learn about what it means to hold staff accountable.

The Board will continue the meeting that was recessed last week on Wednesday (tomorrow) at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be live webcast. Steve Armstrong thinks he just might drop in.

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The Gazette erred - Director of Education Miller did not meet with MPP McMahon.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 23rd, 2017



We published a statement about meetings Director of Education Stuart Miller was said to have had with Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon.

No such meetings took place.

Miller did have conversations with McMahon, by telephone and they lasted a five or so minutes.  McMahon had questions about the process.

We have already apologized to Director Miller and will make our apologies to MPP Eleanor McMahon. There were extenuating circumstances – it was a long holiday weekend and people were not available. That doesn’t excuse the error we made.

The information we were given was false, and known to be false by people working to keep Bateman open. One, a former journalist, knows better than to make comments that she knew or should have known were false.

The other person the information came from was described in the article as a less than reliable source.

Stuart Miller said he and his staff changed their recommendation when they learned the full Central high school story and that their information came from the information that came out during the PARC process and documentation the Central parents made available to the board.

The Central enrollment, while not as high as the Board would like it to be, is understood to be stable.

“To close Central and have 600 students on buses every day would seriously jeopardize the educational experience these students would have and add close to $500,000 a year to transportation costs that they board already knows are going to increase” said Miller

“Closing central would not have done anything to enhance the educational experience.”

The projected Central enrollment was seen as stable. “And we did not make any allowance for whatever intensification might do for either Central or Aldershot: said Miller.

“We changed the recommendation when we learned the full Central high school story.”

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School closings: Who said what to who and what influence did they have? Parents to demonstrate outside MPP's office.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 23th, 2017


There were errors in an earlier version of this article.  Corrections have been made. A link to the circumstances that led to the errors appears at the end of this article.  The Gazette regrets its mistakes.

Some of the back channel meetings that are reported to have taken place are beginning to come to the surface.

Ontario’s Minister of Education Mitzi Hunter has managed to make time for two lengthy meetings with delegations from Burlington.

Denise Davy - Bateman supporter

Denise Davy

Denise Davy and Steve Armstrong met with the Ministry officials last including two policy advisors last week and a representative from the office of Burlington MP Eleanor McMahon. That meeting lasted about an hour.

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Cheryl deLught and Steve Armstrong

Davy works with the Bateman parents, Armstrong was a member of the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) Committee representing Pearson high school.

Closing both schools is part of the revised recommendation Director of Education Stuart Miller sent to the trustees.

More than 50 people delegated to the trustees earlier in the month. The trustees are now in the “information” stage – the last step before they meet June 7th to make their decision. The information session, a meeting where the trustees get to ask questions of the Director and his staff took place last week; that meeting was recessed until Wednesday of this week. They were not able to complete their questions before 11:30 pm when everyone just wanted to go home.

The final decision is made by the 11 trustees.

Among the issues discussed at the meeting with Davy and Armstrong and the Minister of Education was a reported request for a “cleaner, scandal free process”. Both parents wanted to get the Bateman and Pearson arguments before the Minister of Education and point out to her that they felt the whole PAR process was flawed.

Flawed it may be – but the decision making power is with the elected trustees and that process has to follow its natural course.

It is clear now that the trustees are struggling with the recommendation that was sent to them by the Director of Education.

Where things get interesting is with the meetings that took place in March when Central high school parents trooped to Queen’s Park and demonstrated in front of the Legislature.

MMW with T - shirt

Marianne Meed Ward at a Queen’s Park media event with Leader of the Opposition Patrick Brown Brown.

Meed Ward then held a press conference with leader of the Opposition standing beside her while she complained about the flawed PAR process.

Meed Ward then had a lengthy meeting (reported to have lasted two and a half hours) with the Minister of Education and Burlington MP Eleanor McMahon.

Managing to get two Ministers into the room for a lengthy meeting is not easily achieved.

McMahon - First public as Minister

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon.

When the Director of Education changed his recommendation – he hasn’t given a reason for the recommendation change – the Bateman parents began to mobilize and tell their story.

The obvious argument for closing Bateman is that it is 1.9 km from Nelson. There is much more to the Bateman story than its distance from Nelson.

Many had serious concerns over the appointment of Meed Ward to the PARC. If the expectation was that she would deliver for the Central high school parents, she appears to have done so.

Many Bateman parents refer to a comment from a Central parent who said: “We continue to believe that Central is not the problem; the problem lies in the southeast end of the city where Nelson and Bateman have significantly overlapping catchments, 1.9 kilometres apart on the same street, and Bateman has declining enrolment….”

One of the reasons for the PAR being held was that there were too many empty seats in six of the seven high schools – with the seventh, Hayden high school, operating at 130% + capacity.

Many argue that the building of Hayden is the reason the problem of all those empty seats exist.

The decision to build Hayden was made in 2008 when Peggy Russell, a perennial NDP candidate, was a Halton District school Board trustee.

Peggy Russell is a very forthright speaker, she makes her point and seldom backs down. Expect her to excel at the all candidate meetings

Peggy Russell former NDP candidate and a Halton District School Board trustee – she served as vice chair for a period of time.

Russell, who says she was never a push over for Staff, said she felt a need to speak out, saying “you know there is a great deal more to this whole picture than meets the eye and staff are not the ones you should be looking at here, nor should they be vilified in this manner, the individuals who set all this in motion should not be allowed to become a Hero in this whole debacle, it is really very simple.”

The Gazette was not able to actually speak to Ms Russel – the communication was via email.

Did Miller meet with MPP McMahon?  He did not.  As the MPP McMahon would want a briefing from the Director of Education.


Stuart Miller during a Q&A that took place on-line.

Did McMahon influence Miller so much that he changed his recommendation?  She did not.

Miller has said in the past that the recommendation to close some of the high schools in Burlington should have been made years ago – today he certainly wishes that had been done.

Has Meed Ward delivered for the central parents? – most certainly. Has that accomplishment hurt her desire to become the Mayor of Burlington? – only time will tell.

The issue right now is ensuring that the 11 trustees have all the information they need and that they have the wisdom to decide what is best for the city of Burlington.

Related article link
Gazette erred.



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Skinner school board delegation: we have some uncomfortable decisions to make.

highschoolsBy Staff

May 22nd, 2017



Jeremy Skinner, a Ward 5 resident with three students enrolled at Robert Bateman delegated to the Halton District school Board trustees and set out before them what his view of the issue before them was: “The challenge before us is how to maintain student equity in the delivery of programs and opportunities when student enrollments change.”

Skinner Jeremy

Jeremy Skinner

“I believe that the question before us is whether we have sufficient capacity amongst MM Robinson and Dr. Frank J. Hayden to permit the closure of Lester B. Pearson and whether we have sufficient capacity below the QEW to close Robert Bateman?”

Skinner said he felt “obligated to suggest that we “punt” by partitioning some or all remaining Secondary Schools to include students in Grade 7 and 8 like Aldershot and Burlington Central. This will have a positive affect on each Secondary School’s utilization rate which will buy us sufficient time to validate what our ultimate Elementary & Secondary School Network should look like and how best to transition to it.”

The benefits doing this include:

protects capital and staff investments which have already been made at Robert Bateman and Lester B Pearson.

provides flexibility in the board’s capacity response to spikes in future enrollments in Burlington North by enabling three Secondary Schools to respond.

Benefits Grade 7 & 8 students through exposure to a wider range of programs and opportunities such as the technical trades at an earlier grade.


Current elementary school catchment boundaries will need to be reassessed and redrawn as required.

Current secondary school catchment boundaries will need to be reassessed and redrawn as required.

Elementary schools may result in underutilization and thus may have to close.

Skinner added that “In the case of Lester B Pearson, I believe that the short-term risk for closure is too high because too much is dependent upon redirecting student enrollments associated with Dr. Frank J. Hayden to other Burlington-North Secondary Schools. I believe that this risk could be mitigated through Trustee led community discussions to seek agreements for student enrollment to Burlington-North Secondary Schools.”

Skinner then enlarged his field of view and said: “We need to consider the City of Burlington’s revised Official Plan, currently in draft, which identifies 8 major areas of intensification. They are:


The city’s latest approach to directing growth.

the Downtown Core and related Downtown Mobility Hub;
Uptown Centre located at Appleby and Upper-Middle Road;
Mobility Hubs which surround the Aldershot,  Burlington and Appleby GO stations;
The Fairview St. Corridor, and
Most major plazas

The intent is to provide for mixed-use of residential, retail and commercial development of these lands. This will likely take the form of:

relocating the bulk of ground level parking underground or into multilevel purpose built parking towers;

locating retail and/or commercial on the ground and lower floors which comprise the podium of mid-height and high-height residential buildings; and

integrating townhomes and/or stacked townhomes.

An illustration as to what is envisioned, can be found on the east side of Appleby Line from Corporate Dr. to Iron Stone Drive, just below Upper-Middle Rd. Please note that most of these areas of intensification are in South-Burlington. Regardless as to location, they must be considered in future Long Term Program Accommodation (LTPA) plans.

Appleby - East side south of dundas

Appleby Line from Corporate Dr. to Iron Stone Drive, just below Upper-Middle Rd

Given the information above, Skinner “questions as to whether we will have sufficient capacity in South Burlington in the longer term to warrant the closure of Robert Bateman which is best positioned to serve the proposed Appleby GO Mobility Centre.

He suggests “Partitioning Secondary Schools permits us to restore some of the Secondary School catchments back to what they were prior to the erection of Frank J. Hayden which covers North-East Burlington. Then we would adjust each Secondary School catchment to accommodate our best forecast of student enrollments from new residential neighbourhoods.

Bateman high school

Should the Boar of Trustees go along with what the Director of Education has recommended Bateman high school would be closed, demolished and the programs they deliver would be distributed to other high schools.

“Regardless as to which, if any, Burlington Secondary Schools are to close, I believe we are dependent upon HDSB to ensure that current students who are most vulnerable to change and those who seek a career based upon Technical Trade Skills.

“Accommodation of these students and their programs will require significant investments to any Secondary School which is to receive them.

Nelson HS aerial rendering

Many of the programs currently offered at Bateman high school would be transferred to Nelson high school. New facilities would have to be built – at a cost of $12 million

“I seek clarification for the statement made that “ Nelson will need to add technical shops and special need facilities to accommodate students transitioning from Robert Bateman.”

Skinner concedes that “that we have some uncomfortable decisions to make. The decision to even contemplate the closure of one or more secondary schools has a significant impact to the community fabric.”

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Trustee Collard gives the Director of Education a very rough ride - promises more of the same when they meet next.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 18th, 2017



With two evenings of delegations behind them the 11 trustees began their own deliberations and Amy Collard headed straight for the recommendations that were put forward by Stuart Miller, Director of Education who was a bit taken aback – he thought he was there to defend his report and here was a trustee wanting to change it before the meeting had hardly started.

Collard and Miller

Trustee Amy Collard was not happy – Director of Education Stuart Miller was not all that interested in answering her first barrage of questions – he anted to defend his report. If looks could kill!

It was that kind of a night – one that began at 7:00 pm and adjourned at 11:15 after agreeing that it wasn’t going to be an adjournment but rather a recess until May 24th.

Trustee Danielli had had more than enough, Collard said she could go until 6:00 am if she had to.
There was a point in this process where the recommendation the Director put forward to close Bateman and Pearson high schools had momentum; that is no longer the case.

That doesn’t mean what Miller recommended is lost – but these trustees are asking some hard questions and they want answers.

Wednesday evening they did engage the six delegations that were heard and they had a lot of questions.

One point that was made clearer – a decision to close a school does not mean that it gets sold. In order to sell a school there has to be a vote to declare it surplus – then it can be sold. While Miller didn’t spend a lot of time on that point he did say that Boards have been known to keep a school closed but as part of the asset inventory.
That might be the angle the trustees decide they can live with.

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Pearson PARC members Cheryl DeLught and Steve Armstrong were not on the demonstration line but they were very much in the public gallery Wednesday night. Armstrong has not given up on saving Pearson.

Trustee Danielli asked Planning Manager Dom Renzella about the recently released 2016 Statics Canada numbers and he said that the Board doesn’t pay much attention to that data because it is a look at what has taken place – his concern was what was going to take place.

Later in the evening Renzella used Statistics Canada to support a decision made.

The trustees are finding the going quite heavy but they are clearly in for the long hall and are going to make a decision based on what they heard from the delegations and how the Director and his team of Superintendents answers the questions.

Early in this process – back in October, Bateman was a school that was not being considered for closure. That changed and the public began to see and hear the Bateman story that was unknown to most people except those directly involved.

Their was concern about how any transition might take place if the Bateman high school was closed. The trustees were told that the Board has gotten very good at transitioning students and they would do an even better job if they had to move vulnerable people from Bateman to Nelson.

This decision on school closing is far from a slam dunk – it is still very fluid.

Bateman parentsThere was a rally outside the Board offices – bigger this time than anything else before it – maybe it was the warmer weather. This time it was just the Bateman parents; the Central parents won their case and they are staying right off the radar screen.

PARC member Marianne Meed Ward, also city council member for ward 2 put in an appearance.

Much more to report on.

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Muir's Open Letter to the Halton District School Board trustees; asks how strong the Trustees are as decision-makers in this political context.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

May 17, 2017



Tom Muir has been a relentless commentator who asked the hard questions and pressed even harder for answers and the information he felt the public was not getting.
Today – he writes the 11 Halton District School Board trustees outlining their role and the obligation they have to the public that elected them. Muir delegated to the Trustees last Thursday

Dear Trustees,

I have been considering the experience I observed on the evening I delegated to you  and wondering how you are going to move forward in the delivery of your duties and responsibilities.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir

Frankly, there is scarce evidence of your views or intentions in debating this report toward making decisions, and I find this troubling.

This week, May 17, as you know, there is another tabling of the Director’s final report, a formality for final decision on June 7. However, this tabling really only begins your task of, and responsibility for, a transparent and accountable decision-making process. I cannot delegate in person, so please accept this as a written delegation for the record.

This information report tabling allows for your opportunity for deep questions, analysis, and for motions and resolutions for amendments and changes to the Director recommendations.

I have troubling questions about how strong the Trustees are in decision-making in this political context, and if there are any Trustees who will say no to the Director and Board.

I have provided much information, analysis and commentary on this matter, so you should be familiar with this body of evidence, and what it says about the PAR process so far.

The Board and the Director constantly worked at obstructing my efforts to engage the process and investigate the Conditions 1 and 2 that formed the justification for the PAR.

My requests for relevant information were constantly ignored and/or refused. I was forced to go to the Office of Information to request pertinent information, and then I was subjected to more obstruction.

The information I was able to get, which I have provided to you, gives evidence-based proof that the state of utilization that the Board cites as Condition 1 was knowingly and deliberately caused by the Board.

It’s irrefutable that the declines in utilization of those schools are planned declines, the direct result of Board actions.

I’m having problems with how you are portraying the utilization of the schools, like it’s due to natural causes and demographics, and therefore that’s the problem, not the Board’s intention and action. You have been doing this for most of the time since this all started. This misrepresents the situation, and is not truthful.

As I said in my delegation of May 11, utilization in Burlington was planned and directed so as to fill a NE Burlington school (Hayden), and the evidence clearly shows that this was done by choking the life out of 4 of the 6 existing Burlington schools, with premeditation.

Pearson enrollment - monitoring

Steve Armstrong graphed data showing that the changing of boundaries and limiting the feeder school is what put the Pearson high school at risk of closing.

The current UTZ was planned long ago, and imposed by the Board – it didn’t just happen by itself. I have provided proof of this in the data.

But rather than getting to the bottom of how to fix the underlying causes, the Board focused on stopping release of pertinent information to me and the public, including forcing me to submit an FOI request, and even then further obstructing and refusing the release of information.

The current situation of low utilization was caused by the Board, and only by them. Refusing to be transparent and accountable for this is the big lie of the Board.

Now using this PAR, the same Board is now blaming the victims, and recommending that two of the six victims be sacrificed by closure.This recommendation by the Director came right at the start of the PAR, with no public discussion.

To decide the closures, the victims were pitted against one another, a process still ongoing, but it didn’t matter. After a long process the Director still wants his two victims.

His reasons are not the true context, but as they say, if repeated over and over again, people will eventually believe it.

For truth in your deliberations, you have to note each time that you discuss utilization, that the rates of UTZ are the result of a conscious decision by the Board, and implemented in their planning by building Hayden and putting 1500 students there from the other schools and their feeders, causing the planned declines in UTZ in those schools.

Now, as the result of these known consequences, they want to close schools to make it up, and that’s part of their plan too.

There is no accountability, and I think that’s part of the Trustees job to call out, but it’s not evident.

What I have seen is a general administrative failure of transparency and accountability by all the Board, and a failure to show visible oversight on the part of the Trustees.

Do you plan on doing anything to correct this misrepresenting slant, and the failure of accountability?

Stuart Miller

Halton District school Board Director of Education Stuart Miller

The Director’s report also speaks of Condition 2 for the PAR. This mentions that the PAR will address questions of equity of opportunity for students, but I see no concrete problem analysis, or details of solutions.

The report also states that “reorganization involving the school or group of schools could enhance program delivery and learning opportunities.” Please note that the Condition 2 uses the action words “could enhance”. It does not say “will” and so guarantees and specifies nothing.

There is no transparent and accountable information provided by the Board indicating any details of the delivery of this Condition 2 aspect of the PAR. There are only abstract assumptions, and ideology, that larger enrollments and schools allow for this. This assertion is disputed by education studies, and by parents and students in Burlington.

I repeat the point made about how much the financial operating savings are with closures of empty spaces. The $2 million operating cost savings is the only operating funding that is spent on maintaining empty spaces. Since there is no increase in budgets for instruction, more programming cannot come from there,

The PAR Policy statement says that; “Decisions that are made by the Board of Trustees are in the context of carrying out its primary responsibilities of fostering student achievement and well-being, and ensuring effective stewardship of school board resources.”

I remind the Trustees that you will be closely watched to see how your decisions fulfill these duties and responsibilities, in a transparent and accountable way.

Bateman - crowd scene


I ask you to demonstrate how closing Bateman fosters student achievement and well-being in our most vulnerable, and needing of extra support, children? After seeing some of these kids at the delegations, I don’t know how you could in good conscience close their school for so little savings and so much cost, as the most expensive option.

And show me how removing the possibility of the small school experience of Pearson, with the integrated day-care facility, fosters the same things, while providing a test of the real validity of the large school ideology currently dominating the Board planning and design.

And I look forward to you showing me how you equate the ensuring of effective stewardship of school board resources with the closing and loss of 2 of Burlington’s community schools, and the gain of practically nothing of significance in the financial and fiscal condition of the Board. The ignoring of future growth needs, and social changes, is especially reckless regarding closure induced over-utilization, and risks of pressure for renewed future schools and capital needs.

Hayden High, Burlington's newest high school built as part of a complex that includes a Recreational Centre and a public library with a skate park right across the street.

Dr. Frank J. Hayden High School

Remember again, it was the Board that created this problem in a planned, deliberate way, and this added cost of school closures in this deliberate plan, in building Hayden, must not be swept under the rug in an attempt to forget it. That is what I see happening now.

I argue that based on demonstrated benefits to student achievement, and stewardship of school board resources, now and in the foreseeable future, there is no case to close any schools. There are simply no demonstrated financial gains in closing schools, thereby destroying the community of Burlington schools, to provide any meaningful benefits. This is the truth of the matter.

Indeed, it is always in the best interest to deliver and act on the truth, because there is no telling what harm will come of leaving out these details in the future. That’s really what happened by leaving out the truth of Hayden’s impact, so please, let’s not compound that mistake by closing schools.

At bottom, we are not only dealing with numbers or dollars, but instead with children, and essentially the future of our community. This makes our decisions much more important than just taking care of business.

The trustees have within their authority the means to move boundaries, feeders, and programs in order to undo the skewed enrollment caused by building Hayden without considering the consequences.

Hayden was built and filled with students by transfers from existing schools that can just as easily be undone.

Trustees - fill board +

The Halton District School Board trustees in session

In conclusion, the Trustees do not have a pressing need to close schools, and it appears that on planning, financial, fiscal, risk, student benefits from demonstrated significantly enhanced academic offerings as opposed to known negative impacts, the real net economic effects looked at closely, and the impacts on the overall school community, it makes no sense.

If you happen to disagree with this assessment, it is your responsibility to demonstrate your reasons in a transparent and accountable way.

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Nursery co-op worried that it will be seen as just collateral damage if Pearson high school is closed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 16th, 2017



Any plans to close Lester B. Pearson high school are complicated. A small school with enrollment at 30% below the expected utilization level happens to be the home of the Pearson Cooperative Nursery school, an operation that has been around for more than 40 years and operated very successfully.

In her delegation last week Fiona Wielhouwer was pretty blunt: “ We are here tonight to ask some important questions that have yet to be answered.”


Secure secluded playground for the nursery students – with a nice patch of forest yards away.

The nursery is funded by the city to some degree and by the fees it charges patents. The building it is in – is owned by the school Board but a lot of the capital costs were paid for by the city and the city provides ongoing financial support.

“Our first concern: said Wielhouwer is  the agreement between the City of Burlington and the school board. The community space where the nursery school is located, as well as the third gym (a double gym is typical for a school Pearson’s size), was built cooperatively with capital investments from both the city of Burlington and the Halton School Board. The community had input into the use of the space and the Integrated Community School partnership initiated Pearson Cooperative Nursery school.

“The nursery has had a long standing partnership with the City of Burlington, not the HDSB, for our space. The city paid for part of the community room and the expanded size of the gym, for which the city has an operating agreement with the school board that hasn’t expired – how can that be agreement be broken for the strategic purposes of the school board? Why should the city and taxpayers allow this to happen?

Wielhouwer addressed the issue of rent paid for the space and said “We are not ‘getting away’ with not paying rent. The agreement for the community space that our nursery school occupies gives the city, not the school board, authority to establish the use, policy, regulations and scheduling of the community space.

Despite what some may have been lead to believe, it is not for the Board to charge us rent or a user fee. The city has acknowledged this. The spirit of this agreement was to have a community space that was used by and benefitted the community, which it has for 40 years.

Wielhouwer questions the availability of funding for a potential new space, the timing, and whether the nursery would actually fit the criteria for funding. “This is a major question” she adds. Any funding for a new preschool space would be provided to meet only the minimum requirements from the Ministry…a new classroom would shrink to half our current size and our playground would be diminished by over 50% We also estimate the cost of just the move to be over $22 000.

She adds that: “In addition, over the past 10 years, the nursery has spent $71,000 on capital improvements to the space. Would we be reimbursed for this spending that we would be forced to leave behind?. The financial implications of a move could cripple our non-profit organization.

“This concern has been brushed aside by board staff stating that there would be funding available. Relocation is not a simple solution, and as a small organization run by a board of volunteer parents, we cannot count on an undefined source of funding, nor can we afford moving and remuneration costs. If our worst fears should come to pass…and we are forced out of Pearson and are unable to afford relocation that would result in five people becoming unemployed because of a strategic, unnecessary decision by the board.”


Forty years of history might go down the drain of the high school the nursery is attached to is closed.

“This is not just about us” said Wielhouwer. “The nursery school students and families are not the only beneficiaries from our organization.” Alijcia Gibson, the co-op teacher at Pearson said “Having access that is readily available for students to be able to see the development of children during their fundamental years is something that is not only unique for students at Pearson but instrumental in making the connections between the curriculum and the real world….this practical component has helped the students enjoy and experience success in the classroom.”

There is a key phrase that Wielhouwer uses that points up the problem she is having with the school Board and that is – “a true community school”.

This school board does not appear to have much, if any interest, in community schools. The guiding philosophy at this point seems to be large high schools with enrollment of 1000 + students – 1200 appearing to be the optimum number. The rationale for this approach is that larger high schools allow for a much more inviting academic menu.

Concerns about fiscal prudence don’t seem paramount – the money will be found is what Fiona Wielhouwer seems to be hearing.


An interesting teaching tool – does it portray the lack of any direction for the future of the nursery.

Community is just not something that shows up on the radar screens the bureaucrats use to guide where they are going. School spirit seems to be the point at which the school Board superintendents view what community is all about.

The parents fully understand the importance of school spirit but they, unlike the superintendents, see school spirit as something that is a part of the community.

There is no clear sense as to what the trustees actually hold in the way of a philosophy. It has been very difficult to figure out just what the individual trustees think – they don’t answer questions.

Few of them, in Burlington, have said very much about what for them is the philosophy that drives their thinking.

The Gazette asked each of the trustees to rank community, fiscal prudence and academic services – they were directed not to do so while the PAR was taking place. With the PAR completed one trustee came back with “we don’t want the public to know what we think because they will then delegate and focus on what our philosophy”. So much for an understanding of what the democratic process is all about.

Wielhouwer summed up her delegation telling the trustees that “a nursery school within Pearson is ideal for a true community school. The central location with its big bright windows, looking out on the meticulously maintained playground and forest beyond is a rare find in a city where many young children’s programs are housed in basements or overlooking parking lots and busy streets.”

“Our children need nature and the outdoors, which is a key part of the program at Pearson. Our youngest learners need to be respected with a space that is designed for them (like our nursery school with its tiny toilets and low counters), not gathered like an afterthought in an unused room in a building designed for other purposes.

“Should the nursery school children be collateral damage from this closure? Shouldn’t their needs be considered the same as the high school students?

LBP Rachelle Papin 2

Ward 4 school Board Trustee Rachelle Papin – didn’t ask any questions and wasn’t certain she had actually received the report from Wielhouwer.

“Choosing to close Lester B Pearson High School would have lasting and irreversible consequences that will impact many families. It will force a financially sound, thriving, non-profit nursery school with deep roots in the community to close its doors after 40 years. A decision to close Pearson would impact students aged 2.5 to 18. Pearson High school needs to remain open so our staff, families and high school students can continue to work together for another 40 years allowing children to grow, play and learn.

The School Board delegation process allowed five minutes for each presentation with another five minutes for questions from the trustees.

Fiona Wielhouwer was not asked one single question.

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School closing delegations bring out a lot of new information - public input brings out concerns the parents have wanted to express for more than six months. Trustees are being overwhelmed with data.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 15th, 2017



Steve Armstrong was one of the 14 members of the Burlington community that sat on the PAR – tasked with being the conduit between the Board of education and the community.

It is safe to say that every member of the PARC believes the process was badly flawed and resulted in communities fighting with each other rather than working together to find a solution that worked for everyone.

PARC Jan 27 full group

PARC committee needed some time to understand the rules they had to work within. They had begun to realize that they were in an impossible situation yet began to come to the conclusion that not closing any schools was perhaps the best option for the immediate future.

The PARC leadership was not able to find a route to a solution; the PARC members did begin to coalesce around the option that called for no school closures. What the PARC did do was reject the original recommendation which was to close Central high school and Pearson high school.

The second recommendation recommended closing Bateman high school and Pearson high school; that led to a much closer look at just what Bateman had going for it – a lot more than many people realized.

That realization and the better late than never arousal of the Bateman parents brought some exceptionally valid information the public didn’t have before. We will have more detail on just what Bateman does have going for it; as much if not more than Central.

Steve Armstrong, a Pearson parent said in his delegation that the Board of Education’s utilization (that portion of the capacity of a school that is being used) sits at 75% and, based on the Board’s projections, will hit 80% in 2020.

That 75% is a city wide number – it includes all the schools – some of which are at the Board policy utilization level of 90% while others are at significantly below.  Pearson is one of the schools significantly below.   Armstrong believes that “If these sorts of numbers (75%)  were being seen at each of the schools we wouldn’t be undergoing this process.”

Armstrong prepared a series of graphs, one of which showed that Burlington’s overall actual enrollment bottomed out in 2014, and is presently on the rise. He also shows yearly Long Term Accommodation (LTAP) for as far back as 2006. The curve labeled as 2010 represents the 2010-2011 LTAP data.

Burlington city wide

This graph shows what the LTAP boundaries were for each of the years – the actual number is shown in red and indicates that enrollment bottomed out in 2014

“Just focusing on the pattern associated with 2020 enrollments we can see that from the 2010 projections up to the most recent data provided to the PAR Committee there has been a strong increase in the expected numbers. Over 700 students to be exact, and 2020 isn’t very far away.”

Oakville city wide

The LTAP numbers for Oakville are shown for comparison

Armstrong notes that this pattern is also seen in the Oakville data, but is a little more “bursty”, and makes bigger jumps when it moves. Not surprisingly the accuracy of the projections goes down, in both municipalities, the further out one looks.”

“The Region is growing, the City is growing, high school enrollment is growing, and the pattern has been that the projection errors tend to underestimate the actual numbers. This isn’t to surprising as the Board recognizes the planned housing growth at a different point than the City does.

PARC Andrea Taylor MMR with PARC member

Andrea Taylor, Principal at M.M. Robinson in conversation with Steve Armstrong during a PARC meeting.

Given the known near term growth, and the lower confidence in the projections beyond 5 years, extreme caution regarding closing schools is merited. Especially if it involves selling real estate assets in return for short term cash benefit.”

“High over utilization (crowding) creates problems, and low enrollment numbers will reduce some opportunities for studnets. Both situations alter the student experience, and we have these conditions present in two close proximity schools located in north Burlington – Hayden and Pearson. As the image below indicates they show a large overlap in “walkability” zones.”

The most recent projections indicate that if nothing changes Hayden will grow in size and be 600+ students over capacity by 2021. And there is no room for additional portables or a permanent addition on that site.

No 7 unwalkable areas

The symbol indicating the school aligns with the boundary area. Armstrong identified just three relatively small areas where a student would not be expected to walk to school from.

Option 19 had proposed to move the French Immersion (FI) program to MM Robinson as a way to deal with this looming issue. The Board had also listed in its Options the idea of capping enrollment, with extra students being redirected to an overflow school.

The PAR Committee also briefly discussed boundary changes, but ultimately the present recommendation stays with moving FI, and monitoring the situation going forward.

Armstrong has great concern and takes “exception to the simple notion of “monitoring”,.

Armstrong argues that the “enrollment numbers for Lester B Pearson as depicted in this graph “we can visualize three sets of data. The upper most curve represents the projected enrollment prior to a boundary change associated with the opening of Hayden. The boundary change purposely reduced the expected enrollment to just below 600 students. Apparently smaller enrollments where Ok back then! The actual enrollment went off the plan quickly, and significantly. Presently that school is sitting 30% below its planned student body, and indeed those 392 students are witnessing the problems of too little enrollment.”

Pearson enrollment - monitoringArmstrong doesn’t have much faith in the Board’s plan to monitor.  “If monitoring simply means standing by and watching then that is unacceptable. If 30 % off target isn’t enough to trigger action what is? The Board needs to put a stronger set of actions around tracking and managing, and the Trustees needs to press for frequent reporting back to them” he said.

Armstrong wil tell you that “Hayden definitely has a “vibe” to it, and it’s more than just being a new building. “When I toured the school as a PARC member I couldn’t help but feel that Burlington needs more of this. In reality, feel probably has little to do with the age of the walls.”

Armstrong likes the idea of conjoining Hayden and Pearson as a way of combining the best of both schools. “If Hayden’s Principal was to also oversee Pearson, similar to what happens with some elementary schools, would this not help ensure success? Since the goal is that some of the students presently going to, or about to start at Hayden, would be instead attending Pearson, why not bring some of the teachers over as well he asks.

Pearson has been a vibrant smaller school in the past, and not everyone is seeking out everything that a large school has to offer. Armstrong points out that currently 25% of Pearson’s students do so through optional attendance. A similar percentage also attend Bateman’s English stream program through optional attendance. Apparently there is value in having such environments available both north and south of the QEW.

With a proposal like this both student bodies expand their programming options, in an environment most suited to their preferences.

“The current set of recommendations would move the city’s overall utilization from the present 80% trajectory to 108%. Based on the historical inaccuracies of the projections beyond the 5 year mark this plan greatly increasing the risks of requiring capital intensive construction in the future.

“Hayden’s projections involve it running at 150% of capacity by 2021. Redirecting FI to MM Robinson to relieve overcrowding is too critical to simply leave to “monitoring” the progress.

“Closing Pearson removes close proximity capacity from the North, eliminates an option for smaller school attendance, and takes what by 2020 will be a 88% utilization up to 111% overall for the remaining 2 schools.”

“Change isn’t always easy” acknowledged Armstrong. “Perhaps starting with a smaller project, that would develop better community based problem solving, is in order.”

Option 7 - short

Closing no schools was always an option – it just took the PARC members some time to realize it might be the best one. 7 dots

Option 19 short

The original option to close Central and Pearson was interesting to those who were not representing either of the schools. 9 dots

Option 28 - short

This was the same as option 19 with some variation on boundary changes and shifts in the program offerings. 9 dots

Armstrong has come to the conclusion that Pearson is necessary to give Hayden some breathing room and to continue the community based approach to problem solving.  He was a strong advocate for retaining access to a smaller school in the North.

The PAR committee members were asked to rank the options that were before them.  Each of the 14 PRAC members were given two dots to put on which ever option they favoured. The objective was to begin to whittle down the 40 plus options that were on the table.  The results made it immediately clear that there wasn’t going to be anything near the consensus the Board would have liked to see.  It also meant that the trustees had a very hard job ahead of them.

After his three months of work on the PARC, Armstrong feels the trustees need to vote for the “close none of the schools option” and allow time for the Board, with significant involvement from the community, to fully study the issues and finally get it right.

Like many in the community, Armstrong believes that Hayden should not have been built – but it exists and parents are going to have to live with that decision.  That is is a fine school today, even though it is over crowded, should not blur the issues about what is done with the other six high schools.


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How much damage can the theft of your personal identity do?

News 100 redBy Staff

May 15, 2017


On Saturday June 3rd, you will be able to have your personal sensitive documents shred at the Crime stoppers event.  The shredding truck will be at the parking lot on the east side of Brant at Ghent from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

How much damage can the theft of your personal identity do?

An Ontario teacher is working to clear her name and her credit score, after someone appears to have used her identity to open credit cards, take out a loan and purchase a luxury SUV.

Tara Douglas arrived home from her teaching job in Bradford, about 65 kilometres north of Toronto, on April 28 to find a bill waiting for her for the Highway 407 toll expressway.

The bill was for trips she never took in a car she never bought.

“I saw the licence plate did not belong to me and the trips that were on this 407 bill I had never taken,” Douglas told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

She called the number on the bill and was told she had to deal with the Ministry of Transportation. The next day, Douglas went to a Service Ontario location to figure out what was going on.

After receiving a strange bill, Tara Douglas began digging and discovered that her identity had been stolen.
A staffer there pulled up her information and told Douglas that a 2012 black Range Rover was registered to her driver’s licence, in addition to her own car.

“That’s kind of when I really started to freak out because this obviously isn’t my car,” she said.
The MTO staffer removed the Range Rover from her licence and directed her to police in Barrie. Police listened to the details of her case and launched an investigation. On Tuesday, the force issued a news release with a picture of a suspect standing in front of the SUV.

“The news release says the Range Rover has been registered to Douglas since March 31 after being purchased at a dealership in Woodbridge, another community north of Toronto.

“The dealership was contacted and confirmed the female who purchased the vehicle did so with a valid driver’s licence and proper identification,” the release says.

Police had advised Douglas to contact her bank, as well as credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion, to see what else may have been done in her name. While her personal bank information was fine, the credit bureaus told her that someone had taken out numerous credit cards in her name, ringing up between $1,000 and $5,000 in charges. Her address was also listed as being in North York, which isn’t true. Two cellphone numbers that weren’t Douglas’s were also registered to her.

Other car purchases were also listed on her credit report, and police told her that a $60,000 loan had also been taken out in her name.

After learning about the extent of the identity theft, Douglas has done everything she could to clean up her credit report and protect herself.

While she doesn’t yet know how someone managed to get her personal information, police did tell her that the person allegedly buying cars and obtaining credit in her name had obtained her social insurance number.

She’s now working hard to clean up her credit report, sending the credit bureaus various documents to prove her side of the story. She has also contacted Canada Post to ensure her mail wasn’t being diverted to the suspect’s address.

“I think I’ve covered all my bases,” she said. She’s also unsubscribed from email lists she doesn’t want to be on, has told her banks to only communicate with her by phone and boosted the privacy settings on her social media accounts.

“I don’t know what else I can do at this point, but I want this to be resolved and go away and and get back to what my life was and who I am,” she said.

How did someone get enough information on Tara Douglas to be able to open up a bank account, get a bank loan, buy a car and get credit cards,  She may never know.  The thieves may have gone though her garbage and found a bank statement – that would be more than enough to get them started.

On Saturday June 3rd, you will be able to have your personal sensitive documents shred at the Crime stoppers event.  The shredding truck will be at the parking lot on the east side of Brant at Ghent from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

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Second list of delegations will address the school board trustees on possible school closings.

highschoolsBy Staff

May 10th, 2017



The following are the people selected as delegates to address the Halton District school Board trustees on the matter of closing high schools in Burlington.

Earlier in the week the trustees listened to 24 delegations and managed to ask a paltry five questions with three of them coming from one trustee.

Chair Kelly Amos didn’t say a word other than to open the meeting, thank the speakers and close the meeting. Engaging the people who elected them seems to be beyond this crop of elected officials.


PARC Jan 27 - school reps

Cheryl Delugt, standing, a member of the PARC

Tracey and Joelle Howard will speak on the closing of Robert Bateman

Cheryl Delugt, a member of the PARC will speak on the closing of Lester B. Pearson

Elyse Matthews is a community member.

Tammie Beattie will represent the interests of the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)

Jane Cooper Kelly is a Community Member

Dr. Lisa Van Zoost will speak for Nelson high school

Diane Miller will speak for Lester B, Pearson.

Adam Peaker is a community member

Tom Muir is a community member who has written at length on why the Board of Education is in the situation they are in. He speaks as a Community Member

Debbie Wakem will speak for Robert Bateman high school

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Steve Cussons, on the right, was a member of the PARC committee.

Steve Cussons will speak for parents at Aldershot high chool

Jeffrey Huang Ma will speak for Robert Bateman HS

Maeve Fitzgerald will also speak for Robert Bateman HS

Cassie White will speak for Robert Bateman high school as well.

Camryn McKay will speak for Robert Bateman

Denise Davy, who has worked tirelessly for the interests of the parents with children at Robert Bateman, will delegate Thursday evening.

Barbara Heller will speak about the Gifted Programs

Natalie Hiltz will also speak on the Gifted Program

Julie Hill will speak for Robert Bateman HS

Heather deHaan will speak for Robert Bateman

Stephen Beleck will speak for Robert Bateman

Brent Hall is a Community Member

Tracey Bruton will speak for Robert Bateman HS

Lauren Olsen will speak for Burlington Central HS

Jason Bartlett

Jason Bartlett, parent of a student at Bateman high school

Jason and Kelley Bartlett will speak for Robert Bateman HS. Jason has in the past been a member of the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)

Steve Armstrong, who was a member of the PARC will speak for Lester B. Pearson and for Hayden high school

Douglas Emerson will speak for Lester B. Pearson high school

Renée Sirbu will speak on the International Baccalaureate program

Kathy Berglund will speak for the Aldershot HS

Heather McElrea will also speak for the Aldershot HS

Ron Raj Reddy will speak on the International Baccalaureate program.

The delegation meeting of the Board of Trustees on Monday met at the Board of Education offices – if you were not a delegation you had to watch the proceedings at M. M. Robinson high school, a couple of hundred yards away.

The turn out at MMR was 21 people which narrowed down to 17 as the evening wore on. The Board made every effort to keep a crowd that had the potential to get noisy out side the building.

The policy is not to allow any emotional response from the public. That doesn’t square all that well with a policy that lets the trustees applaud when they are handing out awards to members of the public.

Closing any school is an emotional process – the Director of Education said having to tell the staff at Bateman high school that he had recommended the closing of that school “broke his heart”. It’s doing a lot more than that to the parents of the students at Bateman.

There is nothing wrong with people allowing their emotions to overflow. This Board and these trustees seem to be afraid of hearing how people really feel.

When things get noisy or even a little rowdy – a strong chair has a gavel and can call a meeting to order very effectively; that of course is the problem – the chair isn’t very strong.

A man named Jim Young, an Aldershot resident with a passion for getting better public transit service for seniors in Burlington once told that city council that council was not theirs – it was something they held as a sacred trust on behalf of the public – and we thought he was right.

The 11 trustees were elected to represent the public and ensure that the teachers and board staff deliver the service the province directs them to deliver and that the public wants.

So far – not one person has stood up publicly and said that closing a high school is a good thing for Burlington.

Trustees - fill board +

Eleven of the people sitting at the conference table will vote to decide which, if any, of the high schools in Burlington should be closed.

Trustees – fill board +
Eleven of the people at the meeting will decide which, if any of the high schools in Burlington are to be closed. There doesn’t seem to be any public support for closing the schools.

At a recent Board of Trustee meeting the 11 members poured over the plans for a new high school on Milton; they talked about where hallways should be, where recreational facilities should be – they sounded like a family designing their new hone. They had all kinds of questions.

They need to be as deliberate and as responsible and as involved and as engaged with the matter of closing a school. This isn’t a game.

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School board trustees hear 24 delegations - fail to engage the people they were elected to represent.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2017


Revised:  This article has been revised based on information sent to us by trustee Papin

The first wave of delegations to the Halton District School Board were heard last night; twenty four people made their case for keeping different schools open.

The eleven trustees listened – three – just three asked questions. Amy Collard, perhaps the trustee with the experience needed to ask pointed questions of Board staff didn’t have much in the way of questions for any of the delegations,

Delegation May 8 HDSB

Those delegating before the trustees were in one building, those there to just listen were in another location watching the events by an internet feed.

Ward 1 and 2 trustee Leah Reynolds had a question that was more technical in nature, Trustee Oliver out of Oakville had the best question – she wanted to know more about what would be involved if Bateman were to be moved to Nelson.

Other than that, the trustees didn’t really engage with the audience. They didn’t ask any of the delegations how they might resolve the question the trustee they were faced with.

As the evening wound down one could easily get the impression that the trustee’s may have felt that they had gotten through the evening with most of the skin on their backs.

Kelly Amos

School Board trustee chair Kelly Amos

Chair Kelly Amos seemed a bit flustered when she opened the meeting and maintained a polite veneer throughout the evening, hesitant at times that the whole thing might blow up in her face.
Stuart Miller, Director of Education who is going to have to work with whatever decision the trustees make maintained a calm observant demeanor throughout the evening.

There were some excellent delegations. The trustees were given new information, some of it very relevant, but one never got the impression that anything that was said was sinking in.

It was as if there was a line drawn in the sand and each group maintained their distance on their side of the line.
The parents, especially those from Bateman, certainly made their case about the value of the programs that school runs. The Board staff have taken the position that anything Bateman has today they will have when the transition to Nelson is made. The evidence heard last night suggests that is not going to be the case.

The senior staff at Nelson are going to have to work hard at changing the attitudes of a small number of Nelson students and ensure that the welcome they give the Bateman students, if that is where they are going to end up, is genuine. There has been a tremendous amount of exceptionally negative comment made on twitter by Nelson students.

The Nelson pride that Casey Cosgrove, a Bateman student in his high school days, spoke about is going to need an attitude adjustment if the decision is made to close Bateman and march all the Bateman students along New Street to their new digs.

What Cosgrove did do was remind the trustees that they had some amazing people in the community who could and would pull together to find a solution that keeps the schools open. “These are amazing people” said Cosgrove “use them”

Cosgrove wanted the trustees to vote for option 7 – don’t close any of the schools until the real work that has yet to be done can get done to figure out what the possibilities are for making a better decision than the one staff gave the trustees,

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie – don;t close any of the schools until you have better data.

Gary Scobie, a Burlington resident who delegates often at city hall, pointed out that “Past estimates of student location into the future have not always proven correct, so it is still questionable whether it is worth the risk of losing high school properties and facilities when it will likely be impossible to place new facilities back into the existing neighbourhoods if the estimates are wrong and if demographic projections are incorrect.

“I believe that you the Trustees understand the politics of what you are being asked to vote on. You are aware of how funding works and how it doesn’t work, and how the PAR process is deeply flawed. You are in a difficult but also pivotal position to put students first.”

Scobie asked the trustees to vote for option 7b – don’t close any of the schools – not at this time.

Lisa Bull, a Bateman parent, was very pointed in her remarks when she said: “The Director’s report in front of us now dismissively suggests that the new locations for the SHSM’s and OYAPs currently located at Bateman are “to be determined” as though they are just another course you could take on-line or pick up along the way. As though moving these programs and putting them in the hands of new teachers would be without consequence.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Lisa Bull sits in the middle of a group of parents and students protesting a possible closure of their school.

“The Director couldn’t be more wrong. These programs change the course of students’ lives. And it is the availability of these programs alongside of the Essentials and Applied programming which create opportunities for success- personal and academic, efficacy, and happiness for students who might not otherwise experience such success. They should not be treated like afterthoughts.”

At this point the trustees are hearing parents advocate that the school their children attend not be closed – and they give some compelling evidence.

What the trustees are not hearing is comment on the larger picture – where is high school education going in Burlington?

Does anyone have a clear idea what may happen in the years ahead? If the senior Board staff have a vision and a deep understanding of what is really taking place – they have not communicated that to the wider community and they certainly haven’t given the trustees the data and information they need to make wise decisions.


Central made their case – and they were heard. There are other cases that are just as strong.

The Central parents made their case – take a high school out of the downtown core and you are hollowing out a significant part of the community. Board staff seem to have understood and they changed the recommendation to the trustees.

Lester B. Pearson has a strong case – which was put forward rather well by Rory Nisan and Fiona Wielhouwer.


The nursery at Lester B. Pearson has a long historical relationship with the city that funds part of that operation. A delegation argued that some of the assets don’t belong to the board.

Were they heard? Wielhouwer’s delegation raised some critical questions related to the city’s involvement at Pearson – none of the trustees followed up. Richelle Papin, the trustee for Pearson said she didn’t get the copy of the delegation that Wielhouwer said was sent.

Addition: Papin said in a comment that she “I did get a copy of Fiona Wielhouwer’s delegation report by email on Sunday night. What wasn’t clear was who was to share the report with the other trustees. Normally, any delegation report goes through the director’s office. I assumed a copy would be sent to the director’s office. At any rate, a copy was shared with all trustees last night.”

If the parents of this city feel that the trustees they elected are going to do the really hard work that has to be done to resolve the problems – they may want to get ready for a bruising disappointment.

The public didn’t see much in the way of trustee engagement with the audience at the Board of education meeting last night.

The Gazette will publish more detail on what the delegations had to say.

The majority of the 24 people who spoke last night have every reason to be very proud of the job they did.

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