What is the role of the City, and of City Council in the decision to possibly close two high schools ?

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

January 21st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 6 of a series

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, has been an active participant in civic affairs or more than 25 years. He has been described as “acerbic”, a fair term for Tom.
He has outlined, in considerable length, a large part of why the parents at Central and Pearson high schools are in the mess they are in as a result of the recommendation to close their schools. In this article, one of a series Muir suggest what he feels are obvious solutions to the problem the Board of Education believes it has. There is a lot of material; it gets dense at times. Living in a democracy means you have to accept the responsibility of citizenship and stay informed.

What does the city do?

This school closing issue and decision-making process is by definition political.

That makes it personal, so we are all involved, elected official or not.

central-peoplw-with-sign

Is saving a school the same as saving a community?

The City is involved regardless of opinions. Elected city officials and city staff are involved as our representatives. I want them to comment on what various options and issues mean for the city.

This is their job, and if they don’t want to do this for their own “political” motives then they have lost their way, and are not representing us.

And I have to wonder what the Mayor is thinking when he avoids involvement, saying it’s political, which is just a truism, and thus a disingenuous dodge, in my opinion. He’s playing politics himself.

City Manager Jim Ridge has been appointed to the PARC to represent the City, and I can only hope that he takes a full briefing to that table of the many City interests that are involved and at stake in this issue.

It’s not just Central and Pearson on the block – everything and every school, including elementary, are in there somehow, and in some way.

It is not just a school board issue, although they have the vote, and make the final decision.

I realize that the decision is for education trustees to make, but Councilors that claim they have no role whatsoever are abdicating their duty to politically represent residents and the city as a whole.

To say that the city has no interest in whether there are schools in the city or not is just out to lunch. The city has key interests, which are obvious.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

City manager James Ridge will represent the city on the Program Accommodation Review Committee. What is his mandate and is it public?

These interests need to be outlined by the City and Council, and injected into the debate and dialogue.

Jim Ridge can take these to the table, but the Council and Mayor must take their public responsibilities in this matter seriously and not dodge the political reality they are elected and empowered to carry forward.

If the intensification development plan that the Mayor and city are pushing does not need a school in the downtown, where 70% of the new is supposed to go, then the plan is fundamentally flawed in its conception and contradiction with any closure plan.

There’s no “complete communities” in this plan, and never will be if it happens.

Mayor Goldring: Is there an event he won't attend? He doesn't have to get out to everything - but he usually does.

Mayor Goldring decided he would have the city manager represent the citizens on the Program Accommodation Review Committee. It was a controversial decision.

Let’s hear from the Mayor and Council on this. We need a motion to direct staff to provide a report on potential school closings and the strategies that can be developed to protect community assets for future generations.

I would start with the following investigation. I would like Jim Ridge to direct staff to examine what the City and communities will lose if schools close, considering at least the following.

We all know that schools have many uses and many values. They are not just for educating the young during the day. It shouldn’t matter that they are not completely full right now – the neighborhood needs them for the future, which will certainly change, and this change is evident now.

People come and go from our schools at many times of the day and week all year, and for many reasons. I ask that the City document all these comings and goings, all of the ways that people interact with the schools.

They belong to the residents that fully paid for them, and own them, and the school board holds them in trust, or is supposed to.

They are a bought and paid for part of the community fabric, the community capital stock, and an asset that has many uses and values, including recreation, sports, social clubs, adult education, clubs, green-space, heritage, school spirit, memories, diversity of city form and landscape, and the list can go on.

They contribute to property values and a sense of the familiar and well-being – the quality of life.

pearson-nursery-playgropund-full

Pearson was a purpose built school -intended to serve both students and a wider community. Are the Catholics going to be able to come to terms with the Board of education and acquire the property?

Are not most schools considered to be community schools? These interactions are in fact part of the glue that ties neighborhoods and communities together.

This will include recreation, sports and athletics, adult education, day care, social and other clubs, public meetings, and any other activity that uses the school buildings and property.

Indeed, the Alton (Hayden) school construction and opening was delayed 2 years because of the partnership between the Board and the City of Burlington to augment the on-site facilities, with city funding, providing 8 gymnasiums, a library, and community meeting spaces.

So this city partnership shows there is a clear city interest in this matter and issues arising.

I also ask that you consider how the schools enter into the City parks and green-space plans, and into good municipal planning in general.

What about the loss of property values, since we all know that schools, and green-space in a neighborhood, add to the price of housing there.

Is the City prepared for assessment appeals and the loss of tax revenue, or is this something to be ignored, and denied when the time comes?

We need a certain irreducible level of schools capacity, and this includes an appropriately located capacity to have schools.

So my point is we need schools everywhere they were built. The extra capacity is money in the bank to buffer the changes that are certainly going to come from the growth and changes the city is facing, and that the province and Council are advocating.

I don’t think it can be said that we absolutely have too many schools, and especially too much and too many of the functions and products and factors that schools represent and deliver to people.

So the city has a big stake in this for all the things I listed, and Council has a responsibility to the residents they represent to pay attention to these things and account for them.

This is no time for silos, artificial divisions, and neglect of care and concern for these things.

Burlington City Council Group

Is a Board of Education matter likely to become an election issue for city council?

So let’s stop talking about closing schools right off the bat, as a starting opinion, and exhaust ourselves figuring out creative and adaptive ways to reconfigure how we make do and keep what we have.

We will surely need it sometime in the future.

Following this we need a City organized public debate on this threatened confiscation of community assets and the multi-faceted impacts on the city.

If Council can’t see their role in this important matter, that goes to the heart of everything the city is planning – strategic plan, growth, Official Plan, intensification, community, and so on – then, again I say, they have lost their way.

Muir making a pointTom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council. He turns his attention to the current school board mess. He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.

Muir explains that the PARC will only get what people send in, what they come up with from their own efforts, and what they ask/demand from the board. They have to decide what they want and go after it ruthlessly. They will have to fight with tooth and claw and take no prisoners.

Previous articles in the series.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Return to the Front page

Muir analyzes the data collected at a December public meeting and reports a lot of consistency in the responses.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

January 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 5 of a series

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, has been an active participant in civic affairs or more than 25 years. He has been described as “acerbic”, a fair term for Tom.
He has outlined, in considerable length, a large part of why the parents at Central and Pearson high schools are in the mess they are in as a result of the recommendation to close their schools. In this article, one of a series Muir suggest what he feels are obvious solutions to the problem the Board of Education believes it has. There is a lot of material; it gets dense at times. Living in a democracy means you have to accept the responsibility of citizenship and stay informed.

The Gazette published the results of the 25 questions put to residents at the public meeting held by the Board on December 8.

There has been some concern expressed that the responses may be biased because of the representation by school is not even.

This is because all of the schools are not explicitly named as the primary option for closures, so there is a selection bias built right into the sampling frame itself, used by the Board consultant.

This sample of the resident/parent/student populations reflects the selection of schools that are directly named for closure or other changes – Central, Pearson, and Hayden. It is expected that the population of these schools would self-select to participate.

The low turnout from the other schools is also expected on similar grounds as not being in the selected schools directly affected.

parc-crowd-dec-8-16

These are the parents that answered the 25 questions put to them by the Ipsos facilitator the Board of education hired to collect and analyze the data. The vast majority of them were from Central high school.

In my opinion, the selection of schools is biased, so the turnout population sample reflects this bias – in effect the net bias balances out.

This is my summary of the details of the responses. The opposite views and votes are found by subtraction from 100%.

When you consider these closely, you can see what parents think about what they were asked, and what they want.

We have set out all 25 questions and the responses to each question – they are shown in red.

The Questions and the responses:

Question 1: Which high school are your representing tonight?  The number beside the school was the number people in the audience would key in.  The screen displayed a number that indicated how many devices had been handed out and another number showing how many people had responded.

7. Aldershot    7

6. Dr. Frank J. Hayden   43
5. Lester B. Pearson     43
4. Nelson Public           6
3. Robert Bateman       5
2. Burlington Central     150
1. M.M. Robinson     2

Question 2: How important is the availability of mandatory / core courses for your child(ren) within your home school?

3. Very Important              187
3. Somewhat Important      58
2. Not Very Important           12
1. Not at all Important          3

Question 3: How acceptable is it to attend a school outside of a home school for mandatory / core programming for your child(ren)?

4. Very Acceptable   22
3. Somewhat Acceptable   42
2. Not Very Acceptable   64
1. Not at all Acceptable   135

Question 4: How important is the availability of optional / elective courses within your home school for your child(ren)?

4. Very Important     94
3. Somewhat Important      117
2. Not Very Important         38
1. Not at all Important       14

Question 5: How acceptable is it for your child(ren) to attend a school outside of a home school for optional/elective courses?

4. Very Acceptable             37
3. Somewhat Acceptable    92
2. Not Very Acceptable       70
1. Not at all Acceptable     62

Question 6: How willing are you to have your child(ren) take a mandatory/core course in an alternative method (e.g., summer school, night school, e-learning or attend another school?

4. Very Willing  55
3. Somewhat Willing  54
2. Not Very Willing  57
1. Not at all Willing  96

Question 7: How willing are you to have your child(ren) take a optional/elective course in an alternative method (e.g., summer school, night school, e-learning or attend another school?

4. Very Willing  90
3. Somewhat Willing  74
2. Not Very Willing  46
1. Not at all Willing  49

Question 8: How important is it for you high school to offer a full range of pathway programming (e.g., workplace, college, university)?

4. Very Important   120
3. Somewhat Important   89
2. Not Very Important  33
1. Not at all Important   15

Question 9: How concerned are you that your child(ren) has access to appropriate learning facilities (e.g., kitchens, science labs, gyms, libraries)?

4. Very Concerned  165
3. Somewhat Concerned   58
2. Not Very Concerned  16
1. Not at all Concerned  19

Question 10: How concerned are you that some high schools have large amounts of specialized learning spaces that remain underutilized?

4. Very Concerned  18
3. Somewhat Concerned   56
2. Not Very Concerned  92
1. Not at all Concerned  92

Question 11: How important is it for your home school to have a full range of extracurricular activities (e.g., drama, arts, athletics, clubs) for your child(ren)?

4. Very Important   121
3. Somewhat Important  92
2. Not Very Important  35
1. Not at all Important   13

Question 12: How likely are you to support your child(ren) participating in extracurricular activities at another school?

4. Very Likely  72
3. Somewhat Likely  69
2. Not Very Likely  49
1. Not at all Likely  68

Question 13: How important is it for your child to have access to the highest level of competition in athletics?

4. Very Important   19
3. Somewhat Important   30
2. Not Very Important   170
1. Not at all Important   141

Question 14: How important is the physical condition of your existing school to you (e.g., environmental sustainability, energy consumption, safety)?

4. Very Important  75
3. Somewhat Important  37
2. Not Very Important  32
1. Not at all Important  95

Question 15: How important is it to you that the board ensures schools have an up-to-date, fully-accessible learning environment (e.g., elevators, air conditioning)?

4. Very Important   56
3. Somewhat Important   38
2. Not Very Important   32
1. Not at all Important   116

Question 16: How important is it you to preserve existing community partnerships at your child(ren)’s current school (e.g., swimming pool, library, community centre)?

4. Very Important   97
3. Somewhat Important   36
2. Not Very Important   49
1. Not at all Important   69

Question 17: How important is it you to minimize the use of portable classrooms?

4. Very Important   159  
3. Somewhat Important   27
2. Not Very Important    27
1. Not at all Important   39

 Question 18: The Board’s current walk distance is a maximum of 3.2 km. How important is it that your child(ren) are within the Board mandated walking distance to reach school?

4. Very Important     198
3. Somewhat Important   22
2. Not Very Important     21
1. Not at all Important    12

Question 19: Which of the following is your child(ren)’s most common form of travel to school currently? (list methods)

6. School Bus  37
5. Car (drive or drop off)  32
4. Public Transit  0
3. Walk  176
2. Bike   17
1. Other   4

Question 20: How important is it to you that the Board be fiscally responsible by reducing transportation to reach school?

4. Very Important   151
3. Somewhat Important   44
2. Not Very Important      22
1. Not at all Important    30

Question 21: How important is it for your child(ren) to spend their secondary school years in one school community?

4. Very Important   238
3. Somewhat Important  14
2. Not Very Important   6
1. Not at all Important   0

Question 22: The Ministry does not fund empty pupil places. To what extent do you agree that the Board should reallocate its limited budget to fund these spaces?

4. Strongly Agree   122
3. Somewhat Agree   50
2. Somewhat Disagree  32
1. Strongly Disagree   28

Question 23: The Board’s MYP states it will maintain a minimum overall average of 90% building capacity. To what extent to do you agree with this goal around future sustainability of Burlington secondary schools?

4. Strongly Agree   20
3. Somewhat Agree  34
2. Somewhat Disagree   53
1. Strongly Disagree   134

Question 24: The goal in the current MYP is to use innovative approaches to student learning spaces (e.g., classrooms, gymnasiums). To what extent do you feel the current situation of Burlington high schools is sustainable?

4. Very Sustainable   91
3. Somewhat Sustainable   55
2. Not very Sustainable   20
1. Not at all Sustainable   25

At this point people began walking out.  Answers for the 25th question were not collected.

Question 25: Of the four themes, which is most important to you?

4. Programming and enrollment   0
3. Physical state of existing schools   0
2. Geographical and transportation Issues   0
1. Fiscal responsibility and future planning   0

parc-quickie-dec-8-16

Very little is known about the parents who are members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee other than that they have a tremendous amount of work ahead of them. There is no remuneration for the members of the committee.

Tom Muir’s analysis of the answers that were given to the questions asked.

Readers are going to have to shift up and down the pages to read the question and all the responses Muir has analyzed.  Awkward – but it was the only way to set the data out for readers.

1) It is apparently important there be no school closures:

– the Board allocate the budget to fund empty spaces (Q22, 74%);

– present empty spaces are sustainable (Q24, 76%) – question also said MYP goal is to use innovative approaches to learning space use;

– response disagrees with Board 90% utilization goal (Q23, 78%);

– response not concerned about empty spaces being underutilized (Q10, 71%).

2. The importance of the home schools for core/mandatory subjects, and even optional/elective, is quite emphatic (Q2, 94%; Q3, 76%; Q4 80%; Q6, 58%; Q5, 51%), and consistent;

– Q7 indicates some support (63%, but only 35% are very willing), for optional/elective in alternatives like summer school, night school, e-learning, another school.

– do not agree with the Board 90% utilization goal (Q23,78%);
– and again, want the Board to allocate the budget to fund empty spaces (Q22, 74%);
– see being within 3.2 km, or 2 mile, Board mandated walking distance to home schools as important (Q18, 86%) – 69% already walk, 14.5% ride bus (Q19);
– see reduction in bus transportation to each school as important (Q20, 79%);
– see spending secondary years in one school as important (Q21, 98%);
– are concerned that appropriate learning facilities be accessible (Q9, 86%);
– want a full range of pathway programs (Q8, 81.3%);
– feel current situation is sustainable – as above in 1. (Q24, 76%);
– see it as important to minimize the use of portables (Q17, 74%).

4. Suggesting further support for retaining all schools are the following:

– a full range of extra-curricular activities (e.g., drama, arts, athletics, clubs) is important (Q11, 82%) – in my view, this implies more schools with more space for fewer students, means more opportunities;
– parental support to help students do extracurricular at another school is not at all likely, or not very likely, for 45% of respondents, compared to 55% at somewhat or very likely (Q12);
– the importance of the highest level of competition in athletics is not important (Q13, 81%) – in my view, this implies the larger top tier schools with large student populations are not important in this regard.

5. Other parent/resident views reflect a small majority percent expressing that:

– the physical condition of the school as not at all or very important (Q14, 53%);
– that the importance of the school as up-to-date and fully accessible, with elevators and air conditioning, is not at all or not very important (Q15, 61%);
– preserving existing community partnerships at current school (pools, libraries, community center) is very to somewhat important (Q16, 53%).

Again, the opposite views and percent support can be derived by subtraction with regard to response preference bracket.

I believe my analysis is accurate.  It is unbiased and done in good faith.

Muir making a pointTom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council. He turns his attention to the current school board mess. He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.

Muir explains that the PARC will only get what people send in, what they come up with from their own efforts, and what they ask/demand from the board. They have to decide what they want and go after it ruthlessly. They will have to fight with tooth and claw and take no prisoners.

Previous articles in this multi part series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Return to the Front page

What the heck is an Eponym, and what does it mean for your brand?

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

January 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Today I’ve decided to share with you a new word that recently made a special appearance in my daily life: eponym. It is pronounced (EP-uh-nim) and I have to be frank, but I was somewhat at a loss when I saw it.

James Burchill convinces the community to donate door prizes and seldom has less than 300 people showing up for an event. His mailing list has surpassed the 1500 mark. He might begin to sell insurance to a list like that.

James Burchill at one of his Social Fusion events congratulating a guest who won a bouquet donated by Brant Florist,

I mean, I write, communicate and persuade using words for a living…but this one had obviously been hiding somewhere far away because although I could pronounce it, I could not recall its meaning.

So I grabbed my dictionary… then I realized that I now reside in the 21st Century… so I put down the book and I went on to the ‘Net’ instead. I found the definition (actually I found a few versions) and then settled on the one I’ve included below.

In A Word

One way that we use the word “eponym” (EP-uh-nim) is in reference to a specific brand name that has come to mean a generic product. Examples:

D055OPALIA

Jacuzzi has become an eponym for a type of product – when it is really a well developed and valuable brand name.

Jacuzzi = whirlpool bath

Band-Aid = plastic bandage

Chapstick = lip balm

Jell-O = gelatine dessert

Kleenex = facial tissue

Q-Tips = cotton swabs

ear wax; Shutterstock ID 232489651; PO: Brandon for news

Bit of cotton on a plastic stick – with the brand name Q tips which made all the difference.

Scotch Tape = cellophane tape

Styrofoam = plastic foam

Teflon = non-stick coating

Vaseline = petroleum jelly

Walkman = portable cassette player

Xerox = photocopier/photocopy

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it. I mean, your own name or your product name being so popular that it has been absorbed in to the general vocabulary. Now that’s branding at work… that’s branding on ‘go-go’ juice!

But hold on a moment! You might think this is really great ‘branding’ however I’d like to offer an alternate viewpoint…

Too Much Of A Good Thing

If you were the lucky/unlucky manufacturer of ‘band-aids’ you’d now be in the unfortunate position of seeing your brand lose most of its value because it has passed into the vocabulary of the buying public as a GENERAL term.

Your product which you worked so hard to promote… has lost all its specificity. In other words, your product branding is now helping the competition sell there alternate ‘band-aid like’ products.

Brand Life Cycles

You’ve probably heard me say that for most of us (probably 80% or more) we need to focus on selling not brand building. Sure branding is a great add-on if you can do it, but you have got to have deep pockets to pull it off successfully. And you’ve have to be very, very, very patient.

Assuming that you create the next super brand, and your product takes on a life of its own, there will be that first glory phase when your products name will be uniquely linked to you, your product and the benefits and value it provides.

If you keep going strong your product will be synonymous with the brand name… and eventually the unthinkable will happen: One day, the buying public will use your product name – your brand name – to refer not to your specific product, but to the family or type of product!

The End Of An Ear… Or Is That Era?

brand-logos

You don’t have to turn your company into a brand name – but if you can create a brand name – you’ve added value to the company.

From that day forth, your product name, your brand name will now be an eponym. You’ll be the Kleenex of facial tissues, the band-aid of plasters, the Teflon of non-stick coatings. Life will be grim…

Of course, you’ll be filthy stinking rich at that point and whether you get another dime off the brand name is really neither here nor there.

But I’m sure you see my point. The brand is born, it develops over time, if you’re lucky it is welcomed by the masses and they embrace your brand product. It over stays its welcome and eventually becomes a mainstay of conversation – the end.

Do you think Good Year or Pirelli or Firestone or some of the other tire manufactures will suffer that ignominious fate?

They should be so lucky – until next time.

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that helps local business connect and network.  He also writes about digital marketing, entrepreneurship and technology and when he’s not consulting, he teaches people to start their own ‘side hustle.’

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Part 4: Was the building of Hayden high school the beginning of the end for Central and Pearson?

backgrounder 100By Tom Muir

January 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 4 of a series:
Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, has been an active participant in civic affairs or more than 25 years. He has been described as “acerbic”, a fair term for Tom.
He has outlined, in considerable length, a large part of why the parents at Central and Pearson high schools are in the mess they are in as a result of the recommendation to close their schools. In this article, one of a series Muir suggest what he feels are obvious solutions to the problem the Board of Education believes it has. There is a lot of material; it gets dense at times. Living in a democracy means you have to accept the responsibility of citizenship and stay informed.

I have set out what I think is the background reason for the situation Burlington parents and their high school level students face with the possible closing of two high schools in the city and I have suggeted that the mess we asre in is one we created for ourselves.

How do we get out of the mess?

Where does the Board staff appear to sit?
The Board seems to be into closing schools. Almost all the options close schools. Some seem nonsensical. I was surprised by this very limited plan.

They say 1800 empty seats is not sustainable long term.  And the Board staff data is said to be accurate now, and and has been accurate in the past.

Go back to the Board data for 2010 when there were 495 actual empty seats, and 92% space utilization, in the 6 then existing schools in Burlington.

They developed plans, with no evident justification, to build another school in Alton – add 1200 seats plus about 280 in portables.

No more desks set out in neat rows.  The classroom furniture is now such that students can sit by themselves or in groups of two or three - up to eight.  The objective was to create situations where the students learn to work as groups and to collaborate on a problem - question or assignment.

Empty classroom seats. Burlington has 1800 of them. These seat are in Hayden high school which some feel should not have been built. The recreation centre and the library made sense – the facts suggest the building of a high school in Alton created the problem that exists now south of the QEW.

Build school, open in 2013, fill with about 1400 students by 2017, mostly from schools within the six existing high schools. These 1400 now become empty seats in the south Burlington six high schools.

This adds up to about the 1800-1900 now cited as unsustainable.

This is based on the past and forecast data that is said to be accurate.

So it can be said with accuracy that the Board created the 1800 empty seats that they now say are not sustainable. Why and how?

Building Hayden in Alton can be said with accuracy to be a blundered construction of most of the 1800 empty seats.

So they now want to close two schools of the original six that housed all these students, before Hayden, within the comfortable 90% utilization.

So the Board itself created this so-called unsustainable 1800 empty seats, and they did it with accuracy.

They have also gotten away with this unexplained blunder with no accountability for what is incompetent planning in my opinion, based on the face of the so-called accurate data.

miller-stuart-online

Director of Education Stuart Miller during an on-line Q&A which some parents thought was rigged.

So how does this work that the Director isn’t sure now what the residents/public of the south Burlington six expect from him and the Board?

Well, what I expect is that the Director offer innovative and management solutions to clean up the mess you have created.

And don’t tell us that your forecast data are accurate. It’s seems to be a new age for housing costs and form, so families will likely have to more and more occupy higher density.

The historical pupil yield curves used may be too low in this new age. That’s what happened in the Alton community, and the Board data didn’t catch it.

Don’t make more mistakes and cost the community dearly by closing schools based on methods and attitudes that actually created the mess.

It is possible to use the toolbox to keep all the schools open. Go to that toolbox and show us how we can make the empty spaces of use.

Don’t impatiently make irreversible quick decisions that we will all have to live with in regret.
That’s what people expect, among other things, I think.

What about the efficiency and sustainability of 1800 empty seats?

But if we accept that 1800 empty seats are not sustainable, at face value, what does it imply about the strictly business end of producing student spaces?

In 2012 the utilization of SRA 100 Burlington spaces was 87%, so there was a minimal excess over the Board target of 90%. It was also projected to fall and is now at about 75%. But it only fell because Hayden was opened and students were transferred there, and this continues to date, filling up portables and a projected student surplus of about 600.

What the hell is going on here may I ask, with the Board sense of planning? And this just looks to continue in this PAR.

sweg

Was Hayden high school needed? Depends on what you wanted. The high school seats may not have been needed but the Board of Education, the Library and the city’s recreation department had skin in the game. The idea was to create a structure that would become a community centre and when that was decided upon – an excess of students seats got forgotten – the bureaucrats were building and if that meant the death of two high schools so be it. Where were the trustees at the time? Did they not see this coming and did they not ask questions?

The point being for our business model, is that there is no apparent rationale, no business case, to build Hayden, as there was no shortage of supply of student places. There was already some identifiable surplus.

With such an excess supply identified, and projected to worsen, on the basis of this issue definition, what reason existed to build additional supply of students spaces at Hayden? In fact, we still don’t need Hayden on this basis.

If most people made this kind of business decision, they would be in deep doo-doo, and in deeper when there are serious consequences, which there are, but not for those who made the decisions.

This decision by the Board had no justifying business case in terms of student spaces, but created an excess which is now being used to justify closing schools to make up for their mistake.

Everyone knows this has just made things much worse and created a divisive mess for which no one is being held accountable.

Regarding the provision of student opportunities as a reason for the PAR, there was never any evidence provided to show that Hayden provided any opportunities that didn’t already exist. And there is still no evidence provided that closing other schools will provide any additional opportunities that also don’t already exist.

In fact, closing schools will require that 500 to 600 additional students are provided, rather “necessitated”, the “opportunity” to ride the bus to school instead of walk, which most of the would be displaced do at present. Some opportunity this is.

Hopefully, you can see the thinness of putting the issue as just about excess student spaces. The Board itself created the excess. It didn’t exist before Hayden.

Why was Hayden built? Where’s the cost-benefit analysis of what has been created?

The only thing I have even remotely heard, is that the people in the north of Burlington, in Alton, were entitled to, or “needed” schools in their neighborhood.

Which begs the question, what about the rest of Burlington, now under the gun because of the Board building a Hayden not needed for student spaces.

And here is where the real issue mess lies, the part left out of your issue definition.

Because the students were transferred in ever greater numbers, even overflowing into portables, exceeding the Hayden built supply of places, from the existing schools, and then their feeders, thus creating the excess in those schools.

Trustees - fill board +

It is the trustees that are accountable. But the trustees who made the decision to build the Hayden high school aren’t there anymore. Of the 11 in office now eight are serving their first term of office. Burlington’s ward 5 trustee Amy Collard is serving her second term – both by acclamation, Trustees Kelly Amos from Burlington and trustee Donna Danielli from Milton were on the board at the time the Hayden high school decision was made.

So that’s where this logic of this issue definition takes us. Based on this definition, Hayden should not have been built.  Is anyone going to be held accountable for this?

If Hayden neighborhood residents and parents and students “needed” their own school, whatever happened to the rest of us down here in the south? Do we not count in this?

This is the real mess that this issue definition is too thin to manage. It is much more than excess student places, which is a red herring.

What have parents, residents and students to say about their concerns and what they want?

A perusal of the Gazette archive will get at least some sense of what some people are saying and/or want.  As I noted earlier, one key thing that is missing on the accessible website are enough years of the LTAPs and reports to go back to the time that Hayden SS in Alton was being rationalized and justified. I described this situation in detail above.

So if the Trustees know that set of facts, and others do as well, what do they think resident feelings and concerns are?

Muir making a pointTom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council. He turns his attention to the current school board mess. He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.

Muir explains that the PARC will only get what people send in, what they come up with from their own efforts, and what they ask/demand from the board. They have to decide what they want and go after it ruthlessly. They will have to fight with tooth and claw and take no prisoners.

Previous articles:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

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Burlington Foundation announces a record $120,000 in community fund grants to be invested in 14 local projects.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Building community happens when groups partner and create a situation when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The Burlington Foundation has partnered with the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th to help make a major investment in Burlington.

Gazette-ad-2cyanThe Foundation announced a record $120,000 in Community Fund grants to be invested in 14 local projects. This represents the largest amount of Community Fund grants the Foundation has distributed in a single year since its inception in 1999.

In 2017, the Foundation’s community funds and field of interest funds are granting $60,000 and the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th is providing $60,000 in matching dollars. This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between Burlington Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Foxcroft chasing ball

Ron Foxcroft, Chair of the Burlington Foundation; he gets most of them into the hoop.

Foundation Board Chair and legendary community supporter Ron Foxcroft notes, “Burlington Foundation has a long history of making change happen. Our annual Community Fund grants help address Burlington’s highest priority needs, as outlined in our Vital Signs reports, as well as several field of interest focus areas. In just 18 short years, Burlington Foundation has provided more than $4.1 million in grants to charities.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Community Foundations of Canada and the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th to help make a major investment in Burlington. Thanks to this historic collaboration, we’re bringing Burlingtonians together, fostering a greater sense of belonging and creating a lasting legacy of 2017 community initiatives for future generations,” says Colleen Mulholland, president of the Foundation. “We’re proud to help unite the generous gifts of local community members with federal funds to create a positive and lasting ripple effect across our great city.”

Burlington Foundation’s 2016-17 Community Fund Larger Grant Program is providing 14 grants ranging from $5,000 to $13,000. For example, Burlington Public Library will use the grant to support Honouring the Truth, an initiative that builds upon the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Maureen Barry, CEO of the Burlington Public Library and a consummate professional has overseen the move deeper into electronic media yet keeping real books on shelves.

Maureen Barry, CEO of the Burlington Public Library

Maureen Barry, Library Chief Executive Officer notes, “Honouring the Truth celebrates Indigenous historical legacy and ceremony within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Public initiatives that pay tribute to the native lands and stories of First Nations peoples will help build a deeper understanding and awareness of reconciliation as a collective, ongoing process.”

ArtHouse will use the grant to support Mending Fences, a collaborative public arts project for vulnerable youth. More than 650 local youth will help transform 40 designated sites across Halton Region into ”creative spaces”, all in vibrant celebration of Canada’s 150th. Don Pangman, ArtHouse Founder and Executive Director explains, “Mending fences will allow us to hear the voices of our youth through the arts by providing a safe place for them to express themselves and to unleash their creativity.”

Food4kids - bag + apple

Grant to provide Ontario farm fresh food through the summer months.

As well, Food4Kids Hamilton Halton, Foodland Ontario, Feeding Halton and Food for Life will collaborate and use the grant to supply 100 children living in low-income homes with Ontario farm fresh food through the summer months, ensuring access while also engaging them to grow, cook and enjoy healthy food.

Additionally, the Foundation awarded 12 grants of $500 to $2,000 in November 2016. The Foundation’s local Seed Grant Program features a simplified application process and supports smaller-scale initiatives.

About Burlington Foundation
Since 1999, individuals, agencies and corporate donors have partnered with us to make change happen. We understand the difference we make is greater when people work together. Burlington Foundation collaborates with donors to build endowments, give grants and connect leadership. We help people give brilliantly, build legacies, address vital community needs and support areas of personal interest.

About Community Fund for Canada’s 150th
The Community Fund for Canada’s 150th (CFC150) is a collaborative effort, seeded by the Government of Canada and extraordinary leaders from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The Fund is matched and delivered locally by Canada’s 191 community foundations.
CFC150 projects are building community and inspiring a deeper understanding of Canada throughout the sesquicentennial

2016-2017 Larger & Seed Community Fund Grants

Copp - air - cropped

Trevor Copp of the Tottering Bipeod Theatre

Acclaim Health – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Art Gallery of Burlington – $6,500 (Larger Grant)
ArtHouse for Children and Youth – $10,000 (Larger Grant)
Burlington Baptist Church – $12,462 (Larger Grant)
Burlington Public Library – $5,000 (Larger Grant)
Calvary Baptist Church Burlington – $5,480 (Larger Grant)
CameronHelps (2006) Inc. – $6,575 (Larger Grant)
Carpenter Hospice – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Community Living Burlington – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Food4Kids Hamilton Halton – $13,000 (Larger Grant)
Halton Catholic Children’s Education Foundation (HCCEF) – $1,400 (Seed Grant)
Halton District School Board (Aldershot School) – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Halton District School Board (Burlington Central High School) – $1,000 (Seed Grant)
Halton Learning Foundation – $6,000 (Larger Grant)
Holy Rosary School – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Literacy South Halton – $1,100 (Seed Grant)
Muscular Dystrophy Canada – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Shakespearience Performing Arts – $500 (Seed Grant)
Shifra Homes Inc. – $8,183 (Larger Grant)
St. Christopher’s Anglican Church – $13,000 (Larger Grant)
Summit Housing and Outreach Programs – $8,500 (Larger Grant)
Support & Housing – Halton – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Symphony on the Bay (Greater Hamilton Symphony Association) – $12,500 (Larger Grant)
Tetra Society of North America – $4,800 (Larger Grant)
The Bridge From Prison to Community (Hamilton) – $2,000 (Seed Grant)
Tottering Biped Theatre – $8,000 (Larger Grant)

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Part 3: Muir suggests a closer look at the options will produce a solution and that none of the high schools need to be closed.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

January 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a series:

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, has been an active participant in civic affairs or more than 25 years. He has been described as “acerbic”, a fair term for Tom.
He has outlined, in considerable length, a large part of why the parents at Central and Pearson high schools are in the mess they are in as a result of the recommendation to close their schools. In this article, one of a series Muir suggest what he feels are obvious solutions to the problem the Board of Education believes it has. There is a lot of material; it gets dense at times. Living in a democracy means you have to accept the responsibility of citizenship and stay informed.

The Board of Education advised its trustees that there were 1800 empty seats in Burlington’s seven high schools. The Director of Education, Stuart Miller, brought forward a number of recommendations. The trustees decided to create a Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC). That committee will begin its meeting later this month.

Miller engaging a prent at Central - ugly

Director of Education Stuart Miller, on the right engaging a parent at Central high school.

The PARC will review the data – there is tonnes of it, and send a recommendation to the Director of Education who will then make his recommendation to the trustees who will make a final decision as to whether or not any high schools should be closed. The schedule calls for this to be done by May of this year.

Other ideas are suggested by residents in the on-line conversations in the Gazette. There are other more inclusive lists of such ideas elsewhere. Surely, the Board staff and consultants, and education researchers, have a cornucopia of ideas that just need to be unleashed. As Rudyard Kipling said, “there are 99 and 9 ways to make tribal lays.”

This, I think, is a way to go to get to a plan fitting with the times, changing demographics and adaptability to such changes, fairness, and the patterns of the Growth Plan for Halton.

Even in their wildest imaginations - the Alton family would never have thought those farm fields would look like this - imagine the increase in value.

A new community was created when Hwy 407 was built. The Alton Village underwent significant growth requiring public and high schools. Some are not sure the high school was such a good idea..

It is just not right that existing residents are required to give up their schools, in order to build new schools in areas where the high growth in population is being directed under the force of the provinces’ orders in the Growth Plan.

Why should this be a forced confiscation in service of the province’s growth orders? Why should we pay for another part of the growth with our schools?

As I said, things are being taken too far in this insensitive and unlimited logic of efficiency, narrowly defined, leading to fewer and fewer schools in existing neighborhoods.

Once these school sites are gone, they are gone – there are no other places to site new schools. What kind of municipal and community planning is that?

And for those seeming to be okay with the closure of two high schools, as inefficient, and needing to be eliminated, I have to ask if they have ever considered what might be the limits of their criterion or their logic?

central-high-school

Burlington Central high school – the oldest in the city located in a neighborhood with intense loyalty to the place. There are some fourth generation students at the high school.

Do they propose to applaud this process year after year until “most efficient” and “biggest” become synonymous with “only”?

Do these schools have any value not subsumed under the heading of “efficiency”? And who benefits by their closure?

Is “any” degree of “efficiency” worth any cost in our schools?

Can progressively closing more and more schools be treated with such regardlessness, by merely asserting a justification that leaves out all the cultural and community values that they embody?

The point being that there must be limits imposed to this process before our cultural institutions of education have been corrupted to calamity.

This process is leading to no good, and is rotten politics.

four-trustees

Halton District School Board trustees sit at the back of the room during a December public meeting. From the left: Papin, Reynolds, Ehl Harrinson and Grebenc.

Some things the Trustees can do.
Hayden has 500 to 600 pupils too many in the LTAP forecast. The Board moved 600 to 900 from the area of concern, such as Pearson, Nelson, Bateman, and Robinson.  You can see this in the capacity utilization rates in the Board reports and reproduced in the Gazette.

They can simply move some number like the 600 back, as they have the power to do that, just like before, when they moved them out. We need to know what the numbers by school were that were moved to Hayden.

They can even shuffle students from Hayden around the Board SRA 100, which is also in the plan but only at a low scale. Shifting students and programs around all of Burlington, including SRA 100, can be considered.

SRA 100 as at 2015

Secondary Review Area where all the high school are concentrated.

Closing portables and using the bricks and mortar OTG capacity for students fits into using excess spaces, and is something that parents and students have expressed the desire to see. It will certainly be better for students.

Closing the 2 schools mentioned is reported to mean almost 600 more students from them need to be bused, increasing the number from 1000 to 1600.

So no closures, and moving students from Hayden back to the other schools – some of which is in the Option 19 for French Immersion at least – is a perfectly logical thing to do.

It will also save significant busing dollars (not specified in the reports I saw), that won’t need to be added to the already $15 million transportation bill of the Board as a whole, and will avoid big disruptions to students lives.

At least one or two SRA 100 schools are close enough that busing of students is not needed.

Again, shuffling the excess around, and changing the catchments accordingly are all possible and will facilitate the adjustments.

pearson-nusery-sign

The Lester B. Pearson high school was “purpose built” with an extra gymnasium and a Day Care Centre.

The Halton Board has many programs scattered around, and these can be expanded perhaps by shifting some to schools with surplus space.

The Community Partnerships and Hubs outreach, partly funded and touted by the Province on their website as involving schools, can be tapped to expand uses of space.

The existing daycare at Pearson is exactly what the province mentions as one of the possibilities. What happens to that with a closure of Pearson and Central?

Where are these options in the plan? These things are obvious solutions.

I’m confident that the PARC members also have a great number of ideas, and they are much more intimate with the schools and what they want than I am.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir; an acerbic community advocate.

Tom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council. He turns his attention to the current school board mess. He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.

Muir explains that the PARC will only get what people send in, what they come up with from their own efforts, and what they ask/demand from the board. They have to decide what they want and go after it ruthlessly. They will have to fight with tooth and claw and take no prisoners.

Previous articles in this series:

Part 1

Part 2

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Summer festival creates a winter program - starts with a rendition of some of the works of Robbie Burns.

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON,ON

 

You may be one of those people who knows all about the Lowville Festival – an event that takes place every July in Lowville.

Last season there was a rendition of Northwest Passage delivered by the widow of Stan Rodgers, the man who wrote it and performed it for tens of thousands of Canadians.

Paul Bass

Paul Novotny playing the double bass at the 2016 Lowville Festival.

There was a performance on a base fiddle that was the best I have ever heard.  Paul doing the Porter’s Hymn on his double bass was the star of the evening. Seldom does one hear this quality. You could have heard a pin drop while the sound was being plucked from the strings of the bass.

The team that puts together the Lowville Festival each summer has put together a winter program that begins with Robert Priest, Canada’s finest spoken word poet and singer who will delight the audience with some of his poems and compositions along with a salute to Robbie Burns. Schoolhouse Series

LOWVILLE SCHOOL HOUSE

Lowville School House – Locale for the Lowville Festival winter series.

That event takes place Saturday January 21, 2017. Titled “Words to Warm a Winter’s Night” it will beheld in the Lowville Schoolhouse

Saturday March 4, 2017:
Racy Artists from the Renaissance to the Rococo.
Real lives of the artists will be revealed by Barbara Anderson-Huget in this multi-media presentation. Murder, adultery, fanaticism, broken vows and fashion.

Concussion

Sports concussions are the topic for the final evening of the Lowville Festival Winter series.

Saturday April 1, 2017:
Head Games: the Global Concussion Crisis
After viewing the movie, Concussion, Lorretta Bailey and guest will lead a discussion about how to prevent concussions in our youth, the warning signs and possible treatments.

$20 /person for each event to defray costs.
RSVP to tickets@thinkspot.ca to reserve a seat

6207 Lowville Park Road, Burlington

Presented by ThinkSpot and the Lowville Festival

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Part 2: How we got to the point where school closings were recommended and what the trustees can do.

backgrounder 100By Tom Muir

January 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, has been an active participant in civic affairs. Our colleague, Joan Little described Muir as “acerbic”, a fair term for Tom.
He has outlined, in considerable length, a large part of why the parents at Central and Pearson high schools are in the mess they are in as a result of the recommendation to close their schools.  There is a lot of material; it gets dense at times. Living in a democracy mans you have to accept the responsibility of citizenship and stay informed. This is a multi part story.

The Board keeps repeating the phrase – “we have too many empty seat” and that is true.

If you are asking the question “whodunnit” to us, the answer is, “the Board dunnit”. They created this awful mess and our trustees have just been sleepy collaborators in this doing.

And the Board just lets this pass by the trustees with no emphatic warning to parents, residents and city Council, of what was coming?

In my opinion, no one was in charge to see this coming and head it off, or at least give a lot of early warning, underlined and publicized.

school-closing-banner

A message that might have been a little on the late side.

Why you would build a new school, with projected enrollment of 1600, when the surplus of available places in the existing schools were projected to increase to 2500, and nobody says anything about this disconnection, is beyond me. Or anyone else I know who has talked about the problem, and how the Board operates.

Where is this problem going, and where might it go?
I can tell, more broadly from my study of this, that there is a lot more of this issue still underwater, and coming, but it’s understated there in the LTAP reports.

Burlington SRA 100 catchments (which can be changed, and were changed for Hayden) are in mature communities, and with the transfers to Hayden, are not projected to grow enough students to fill schools built in another era. This Burlington area is also not taking on the endless high growth of other parts of Halton.

There are new high, and elementary, schools in the pipe for this growth and the Board will be sooner or later coming for more closures to get the available place capacity down to some level to get grants for the new schools for the growth. But these new schools will be put somewhere else.

This will only cause more trouble in the future, and the suggested closures at present foretell more in the future. The elementary schools are linked, and next for PARs – stated in the current LTAP – and will be domino-ed if there are closures.

My general impression is that new schools are planned for, and built in the growth areas when grants are available. If there is too much excess students spaces elsewhere, the Board goes there, does a PAR, and takes back – closes – schools in areas with available spaces, which are in the elsewhere.

That’s like what’s being done here now, but parents and residents aren’t really being told about that part. But hints are in the LTAP reports.

Hayden high school

Was Hayden high school needed? Was there a business case for the construction of the school. When originally planned it grew from a high school – that had a public library and a Recreation Centre added to it. There came a point when it all looked just too good. And the growing Alton community needed a high school.

There seems to be no limit to this, just the timing. It’s outrageous, and a rip-off, as we paid for the schools in the first place, and now have to pay twice for new ones – the province funds new schools with our money, then takes back some old schools, so we pay again, but with an added insult.

This is what I fought back in 1998-2000. This time, it has been hidden. You see it coming in the LTAPs, but it’s subtle.

What can Trustees do?
The Trustees of course work within the provincial rule book, but they definitely DO NOT have to choose to close schools.

Option 19 recommendation

Of the 19 options – this is the one the Board of Education staff recommended. Why?

They have a tool kit that they can pick and choose from so as to spread the student numbers around, together with the dollars, and innovate to keep the schools open.

However, the Board staff has chosen to make pretty much all the options presented as mostly about closures. As far as I’m concerned this is the bureaucrat in them defending their past decisions that led to this messy situation.

The Trustees have the authority to change this, and to give the Board marching orders to come up with another plan that uses all of the tool kit.

Trustees - fill board +

Will the 11 school board trustees hang together as a group and really think the issue through or will they leave it to the Program Accommodation Review Committee to come up with an answer they can live with.

One problem that is foreseeable is that the Trustees are played off against each other depending on the part of Halton they represent. Milton is projected to grow a great deal in population, and Oakville is next in numbers.
Milton and Oakville each have 2 elementary schools in the planning pipe for 2018 to 2021, and these are not yet funded. Each also has a high school in the planning pipe for the 2019 to 2021 period and these are not yet funded either.

These proposed schools are all for students and parents that are not even born yet, but are projected from the future growth driven by provincial orders.

This is the rub. Will the Milton and Oakville Trustees put these possible future students that are not even here yet, before existing students, already living here but in schools somewhere else – in Burlington?
Will these trustees turn against their colleagues and neighbors and vote to close their schools, so they can have some new ones for people who aren’t here yet?

People who obviously do not vote here yet, and certainly didn’t elect any of the Trustees.

Boardroom Values Statement 2016

This large poster hangs on the wall of the school board meeting room

The Trustees don’t have to vote that way, but who knows? People are strange.

However, they do have the power to unite and stick together. They can put together better ideas, and order the Board staff to make another plan that keeps schools open.

This will be a testing time for these trustees.  Burlington Central high school is putting up quit a fight – they raised $14,000 at a Silent Auction.  These people are not going to go quietly into the night.

Such a plan may contain innovative elements – which just happens to be in the latest Board Multi Year Plan goal to use innovative approaches to using learning spaces.

 

Part 1 of a multiple part series

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Part 1 - the high school capacity problem is one we created. Trustees failed their constituents and the Board of Education staff was either asleep at the switch or incompetent.

backgrounder 100By Tom Muir

January 16th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, has been an active participant in civic affairs. Our colleague, Joan Little described Muir as “acerbic”, a fair term for Tom.

He has outlined, in considerable length, a large part of why the parents at Central and Pearson high schools are in the mess they are in as a result of the recommendation to close their schools.

There is a lot of material; it gets  dense at times.  Living in a democracy mans you have to accept the responsibility of citizenship and stay informed.  This is a multi part story.

1. How was this problem created and why is it a mess?

Everyone needs to appreciate that there is a lot of Long Term Accommodation Plans (LTAP) and other reports and information on the Board website, but knowing how to find them, and have the time to read and comprehend it all, are daunting for people not used to this kind of analysis. And if they have both jobs along with their kids and home responsibilities, this just gets much worse.

The Board writes these long LTAP reports but the trustees I think seem to be snowed under by them, over time. There are plenty of warnings and facts presented about what is going on, but somehow it doesn’t fizz on them, and parents and residents are not given any warning of what lies ahead on the path the Board is on.  That’s the case I found here, and it’s not hard to find if you know how to look and take the time.

One thing that is missing on the accessible website are enough years of the LTAPs and reports to go back to the time that Hayden SS in Alton was being rationalized and justified and a new SRA 101 was created..

SRA 101 as at 2015

This Secondary Review Area contains one school. Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS opened with grades 9 and 10 in September 2013, and grew one grade each year. Enrolment currently exceeds OTG capacity, resulting in the placement of 6 portables on site. A high percentage (30%+) of grade 8 students from Orchard Park PS and Alexander’s PS enrolled in a secondary school other than Dr. Frank Hayden SS in 2015. More than 90% of grade eight students from the following elementary schools attend Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS: Charles R. Beaudoin PS FI program, John William Boich PS FI program Alton Village PS Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS is projected to be over-utilized. Enrolment is approaching Total Capacity by 2016. Boundaries may need to be re-evaluated as part of a future Program and Accommodation Review. To Be Determined Area, students are projected in this area within the next five years. Consideration should be given to establishing school catchments for this area as development approvals move forward.

Data is avalable for as far back as 2010-2011 where toy can already see the troubles looming. But there is no hint of how Hayden was justified on pupil place needs – there weren’t any – when it was already known that building the school would drain all the students from the existing high schools and create large and growing surplus places there, while overfilling Hayden, even with Portables, right from the start.

SRA 100 as at 2015

Secondary Review area 100 shows the high schools south of the QEW where the population was concentrated. The creation of the Halton community when the 407 highway was built suggested the need for an additional high school.

For example, in 2010-2011 LTAP report, we see the following.

The Board data for 2010 indicates there were 495 actual empty seats, and 92% space utilization, in the 6 then existing schools in Burlington. There was obviously no problem with surplus places and the trends stayed in a 90 to 80% bracket to 2020.

With the projected opening of the Alton school, the transfer of students from the other schools to the Alton school began, and the steep increase in available places in the existing 6 Burlington schools began.

From the 2010-2011 LTAP commentary:

– New subdivision development in SRA 101 contributes to the high utilization of Lester B. Pearson H.S., M.M. Robinson H.S., Nelson H.S. and Robert Bateman HS

– Opening of the proposed Alton community high school (2011) will cause enrollment to drop in most schools.

– A boundary review for the proposed Alton community high school has been initiated.

– There is potential for a PARC (Program and Accommodation Review Committee) Process to be initiated.

The plans were to build another school in Alton – add 1200 seats plus about 280 in portables.

The Board set out to build the new high school and decided to make it both a public library, a recreation centre and a high school and opened it  in 2013 (at first it was 2011/2012), filled it with about 1400 students by 2017 from schools within the six existing high schools. These 1400 now become empty seats in the south Burlington six schools.

Together with the 495 cited above, this adds up to about the 1800-1900 empty seats now cited as unsustainable.

So this was basically already known before 2010, but the possible consequences were never made public or explained to anyone, from all appearances.

As well, in this 2010-2011 LTAP, there is no business case, or any other rationalization, based on a deficit in pupil places, for building a new school in Alton. This may have been done in earlier years, but there is no visible evidence of the need anywhere, and it is not available or provided for public information right now.

This rationale needs to be provided.

2. How did we stay on this path to problems?
The path Burlington was put on by these Board decisions continued unabated, but the consequences continued to be unexplained to the public, and seemingly were not appreciated or were ignored by Trustees.
I went back to the LTAP for 2012-2013. It quite clearly states that opening Hayden was going to cause problems.
Here’s something I copied out of that report (my underlining). SRA 100 contains the 6 Burlington High schools, besides Hayden the new one.

BURLINGTON – Secondary Review Areas
With the development of the new Secondary Review Areas (SRA)  101 Burlington NE High School (1200 pupil places) in the Alton Community, a school boundary review process was undertaken and completed in June 2012.

The opening of the new high school would result in students being redirected from SRA 100 to this new school.  The additional capacity meant a reduction in the number of students in classroom seats.  The Board appears to have convinced itself that Alton needed a high school and built one – at a time when the high school population wasn’t growing.

Secondary school enroll with Hayden includedEnrollment projections indicate the utilization of space in SRA 100 secondary schools is currently at 87% in 2012, which will decline to 60% in 2022. Moreover, given the capacity of the schools, it is projected once the new high school opens there will be 2503 secondary pupil places available in 2022 within SRA 100.

In reviewing SRA101, it is projected that the new school will continue to grow in enrollment to the point that by
2019, On the Ground (OTG) building and portable capacity could be exceeded, with a utilization rate of 131% by 2022.

Overall for Burlington, by 2022 the OTG utilization is projected to be 72%, with approximately 2129 empty
pupil places. It would appear that within the next few years, consideration should be given to undertaking a
PAR for all secondary schools in Burlington.

So you can see again, that the building of Hayden, the lack of a rationale, and the plan for filling it, was a root cause of the current problem.

Bateman - team on the street protesting

A number of years ago Bateman students demonstrated to keep their football team – parents may find themselves demonstrating to keep their high schools open.

Looking at another Table shows that the actual student numbers in SRA 100 was 5530 in 2012 and was projected, by opening Hayden in 2013, to decline down to 4913 in 2013.

So in that time period, the Board moved about 600 Grade 9 and 10 students from the SRA 100 to Hayden, and then in time would drain other grades and feeder students greatly to get to the overshoot of capacity that they are at now.

The student numbers in Hayden went to 860 in 2014; 1250 in 2015; 1350 in 2016; about 1400 in 2017; and is projected to grow to about 1600 in 2020.

The students could have remained in, and new ones put into, other schools of the 6 existing, and Hayden was not really needed given the pupil places already available at the time as indicated. Further, the school is already overfull, with portables, and this will continue with the present catchment and policy.

From another section of the LTAP 2012-2013 I copied this. I had to take the format from a Table, so that’s why it is what it is.

SRA 100, includes Aldershot, Burlington Central, Lester B. Pearson, MM Robinson, Nelson and Robert Bateman where school enrollments are below OTG capacity and will continue to decline from 87% in 2012 to 60% of OTG
capacity in 2022.

This is a result of the opening of the new school in the Alton High School.

By 2022 there will be approximately 2500 available pupil places in this review area and all schools will be operating below their OTG capacity.

Hayden is already overcapacity in 2016. This is just getting worse and will continue unless policy changes are made.

All these decisions and descriptions are made by the Board, and then rubber-stamped by the Trustees, who I think didn’t really comprehend what was happening.

The near total turn over of trustees in Burlington in the 2014 election didn’t help.

Muir making a pointTom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council.  He turns his attention to the current school board mess.  He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.

Muir explains that the PARC will only get what people send in, what they come up with from their own efforts, and what they ask/demand from the board. They have to decide what they want and go after it ruthlessly.  They will have to fight with tooth and claw and take no prisoners.

 

 

 

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Parents want an open mike meeting to ask their questions, Director of Education says he will be there if that is what they want.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 13th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

That December 8th meeting that was held by the Halton District school board has come to be an experience the Board has learned something from.

Trustees were telling staff that many people didn’t feel they had had a real opportunity to ask questions or voice their concerns.

miller-prep-at-central

Director of Education Stuart Miller getting ready to address parents at Central high school.

Director of Education Stuart Miller admitted that there was something to be learned from that first experience and has said that the Board’s administrative committee will review what has taken place so far and decide if there should be another public meeting at which people can voice their concerns and grievances.

Miller didn’t sound all that happy with the idea of a meeting at which he has to stand up in front of a couple of hundred unhappy people who get quite emotional about the possibility that there local school might be closed.

But he did say that if the view was that another public meeting was necessary then he would take part and listen.

Miller isn’t sure what the public expects. He refers again and again to the facts he has to deal with – 1800 empty seats – something that just isn’t sustainable on a long term basis.

He argues that the data provided by the Boards Planning department has been accurate in the past and he believes that what he is getting from them now is also accurate.

That might not really be the case.

The board was caught by surprise when it found registration at the Alton public school to be much higher than projected – then realized that a significant number of the houses in the relatively new community was housing two and sometimes three families.

These elementary school students will move on to the high school in the community which is already well over its intended capacity.

Miller told staff that his planners work closely with the city of Burlington and share information.
One of the problems is that the city can only pass along what it has in hand in the way of new residential projects. There is a project well past the drawing board stage for the intersection of Brant and Ghent streets that will involve three of the four corner properties at that intersection.

Brant Ghent intersection

The properties within the black outline are part of a development that is well past the drawing board stage. The hold up is at city hall where the planners need more time to figure out how this will fit in with their mobility hub plans.

City hall has asked the developer to wait a little longer before talking about the development – which means that development is not real yet from the city’s point of view. The plan is for there to be a mobility hub at the Burlington GO station where a five tower project is currently under construction. The city to get its mobility hub thinking completed before looking at additional new projects.

The developers are way ahead of the city. They have measured the market, done their research and determined what the public wants and have put their money on the table and begun construction.

It is very real in the minds of the developer – several housing were recently demolished to clear the Brant Ghent site.

The board isn’t even aware of that development which is a couple of blocks from Central high school.
There also appears to be an assumption that there will be very few families living in the five condominiums that are going to be part of the Paradigm project on Fairview next to the GO station.

paradigm-from-driveway-dec-16-16

A five tower project currently under construction is less than a ten minute walk from Central high school.

To assume that a community of 2000 people is going to be made up of foot loose and fancy free singles or seniors that want to downsize may turn out to be a mistake equal to the problem that cropped up in the Alton village when the board got caught with close to hundreds of additional students.

The board of education needs to find a way to meet privately with the larger developers to get a sense of where they want to go long term. There is vital data that is being missed.

The sense one gets is that the Planning department isn’t all that sophisticated and appears to rely on the tried but not always true demographic tools when perhaps something that permits the planners to dig down a lot deeper is needed.

School notices

School boards know about the project – their signs warn parents that there may not be space in local schools for any children living in the project.

There is little argument that the role of the board is to educate our children – but the job doesn’t stop at that border – an education is vital – a community is the space within which the student is going to exist and make their mark in this world.

There is a lot more talking to be done and some parents at Central high school are not convinced that the board really wants to listen.

One parent sent in these comments: “I think the PAR process will be a sham. But the Ministry designed it so it would be. There are PAR committee members in Ontario quitting in disgust of the whole thing before it’s even over. I talked with our MPP Eleanor on my thoughts about all this from a provincial perspective a while ago. She actually said “there is nothing wrong with the funding formula” and “I have faith in the process.” Our meeting was over the phone so I couldn’t tell if she said it with a straight face or not, but really!

There are two public meetings scheduled as part of the PAR process – no word yet on the format of those meetings.

PARC full time line

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Are school board trustees getting all the information they need on possible high school closing in Burlington?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 12th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The flow of information between the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) and the Board of Education trustees is a concern that Leah Reynolds brought up at the school board meeting last night.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

Trustee Leah Reynolds, centre, wanted to know why she wasn’t getting copies of emails sent to the PARC members.

Reynolds, who represents Burlington wards 1 and 2, wanted to know when she would get copies of the emails that get sent to the PARC people.

Reynolds wanted to be fully aware of what the PARC members are hearing and said she “owed it to the community to fully understand what the feelings and concerns are”.

It wasn’t immediately clear just what was happening to the emails that citizens send to the PARC members. A concern was expressed about email that may not be at all appropriate and that doesn’t get through the system.

Reynolds wanted to know who was responsible for the distribution of email that goes to PARC members. The Board created email addresses for the PARC members the public can use to communicate. Reynolds feels that communication is important and she would like to know what is being said.

parc-engagement

The Board of Education created special emails for members of the PAR committee. Citizens could use the one address to communicate with the PARC member representing their school

There was discussion about support for PARC members who might be finding the content of some of the email objectionable and inappropriate.

parc-quickie-dec-8-16

The PAR committees meeting immediately after the early December public meeting.

Scott Podrebarac, a Board of Education Superintendent and chair of the PARC said that the PARC people have had meetings and that minutes are being taken. However, the trustees have not seen these minutes.

Superintendent of Education, Gord Truffen, who oversees information technology for the board, expressed some concern over the confidentiality of email addresses and told the Board meeting that there hasn’t been all that much traffic to the members of the PARC at the email addresses created for them.

MMW + Leah Reynolds

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with ward 1 and 2 school board trustee Leah Reynolds. Meed Ward sits on the PAR committee which will produce a report for the Director of Education who will use the contents of the report in his recommendation to the trustees on which high schools, if any, to close.

What trustee Reynolds wants are the opinions people are expressing so that she can have a clearer sense as to just what the community wants. She doesn’t feel she is getting what she feels she needs.

There may be a communication problem. Reynolds was the only trustee to speak to that matter.getting new - yellow

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Who decides if the school buses are going to be running - the top dog who gets the first report at 5:30 in the morning.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 12th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

The nightmare is” said Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller, “for me to decide that the school buses should not run and then see a significant change in the weather hours later.”

Miller was explaining to school board trustees last night how the decision to cancel school bus service when the weather is bad.

Stuart Miller

Stuart takes those 5:30 am weather report phone calls.

“I got a phone call at around 5:30 (my wife remembers exactly what time the call came in) telling me that the weather reports were not good.

Miller then makes a number of call to other school board’s in the area to see what they have planned. He has to make a decision by 6:30 am and prefers to have made up his mind by 6:00 am.

“There is freezing rain in Toronto but the local spotters report nothing in Oakville or Burlington – but the reports have the weather heading west.

“So I decide that the roads are not good enough for safe passage and I cancel the service.

“And sure enough – it is close to balmy sunshine weather in the southern part of the region and blizzard like weather in the rural areas.”

Miller explained that his decision is based on what he determines to be in the best interests of the students and the men and women who have to drive those school buses.

school bus in snow fall

Winter weather means slower bus service and at times a decision to cancel the service.

Many of the buses he explained have several runs – and if they are late completing one run the students are left standing in the cold for as much as half an hour while the bus drivers work with difficult roads.

So now you know – the decision gets made at the very top – and he gets that first call at about 5:30 in the morning.

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Mild temperatures and rainfall, combined with the partial melt of existing snow-pack, we mean increased flows in creeks and streams.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 11th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Conservation Halton advises that Environment Canada is forecasting 15 to 25 mm of rainfall beginning later this evening and continuing into early Thursday.

Based on the forecast of mild temperatures and rainfall, combined with the partial melt of our existing snowpack, we may experience an increase in flows and water levels in our creeks throughout the Halton watershed.

Cons Halton water shed safetyWidespread flooding is not currently anticipated. Our reservoirs are holding at winter levels which allow for larger storage capacity for circumstances of this nature.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to stay away from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts and dams. Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will issue further messages as necessary.

Conservation Halton will issue an update to this Watershed Conditions Statement –Water Safety message only if significant changes in the forecasts occur. This Watershed Conditions Statement will be in effect through to Friday, January 13, 2017.

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Impaired driving charges lower this year - but still to high.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 10, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has released its impaired driving statistics for 2016, including its annual December RIDE campaign and overall year-over-year totals.

wefb

Police conducting RIDE campaigns.

Results from RIDE, a program held from December 1-31 in partnership with community agencies such as MADD Canada and funded in part by the Ministry of Community Safety, are as follows:

• 266 roadside tests conducted
• 51 impaired driving arrests (this compares to 31 arrests during the same period in 2015)
• 47 three-day suspensions issued
• 2 seven-day suspensions issued
• 5 24-hour suspensions issued (G1/G2 drivers)

Overall impaired driving arrests in Halton Region, however, decreased from 425 in 2015 to 404 in 2016.

“Impaired driving by drug or alcohol is a threat to community safety, and the reality is it isn’t a holiday, weekend or night-time problem,” said Nishan Duraiappah, Deputy Chief of Police. “As such, it is and will remain a top priority for our Service all day, every day of the year. Enforcement alone isn’t the answer, and we will continue to partner with other organizations to weave elements of prevention and social development into our work towards enhancing traffic safety in our community.”

In addition to enforcement programs like RIDE, officers conducted preventative projects at licensed establishments throughout Halton to educate patrons on impairment. Volunteers had the opportunity to check their blood alcohol levels on-the-spot by providing breath samples into roadside screening devices. Fifty-two (52) men and women participated. Of these, 29 registered a pass (under 0.05 mg alcohol/100 ml blood), 15 a warning (between 0.05 and 0.08 mg alcohol/100 ml blood), and eight failed (over 0.08 mg alcohol/100 ml blood).

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.

To ensure that the impaired driving message was heard by all drivers of all ages, High School Liaison Officers attended several Halton high schools to deliver its annual RIDE 101 education program. RIDE 101 teaches students about the influence drugs and alcohol can have on a driver’s perception and ability to complete simple tasks by enabling them to experience the world through the lens of goggles that mimic its effects.

These measures and others are part of the Service’s broader Community First policing philosophy that focuses on incorporating the four pillars of (community) safety and well-being into service priorities: Emergency Response, Risk Intervention, Prevention, and Social Development.

More information can be found at www.haltonpolice.ca under Community or by following @HaltonPolice on Twitter or Facebook.

In the meantime, residents are reminded that impaired driving is a crime in progress and to report it immediately by calling 9-1-1.

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Politicians and Integrity - involves living so people are able to trust in the promises that are made.

opinionandcommentBy Dr. Wendy Hofman

January 10, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Integrity is an integral part of leadership.

In politics, it is becoming non-existent. It is fair to say that there are still politicians who have integrity but the number is decreasing. Integrity is all about being honest in all aspects of one’s life.

In order for a political party to earn the respect of the public each member of its party executive and the MPP’s must have integrity. The interest of the public must come ahead of personal interest and gain. Integrity should be the governing rule of how politicians make decisions and policies. Having integrity is a lifestyle choice and should be life-long.

How can integrity in politics be regenerated when corrupt practices are widespread? It is quintessential that the prerequisite for such an endeavour is absolute political will. The Party and its leaders must be dissatisfied with how they are governing. The decision to change can be internal from those that are uncomfortable governing without integrity or it can come about through public scrutiny and effective political opposition. Party faithfuls that have become disenchanted and disgruntled are signs that positive change must occur in order to retain the membership.

How would it appear if politicians governed with integrity? Integrity is evident in thought, speech, behaviour, and decision-making. It involves living so people are able to trust in the promises that are made. Imagine if deliberately misleading the public would result in a forced resignation of a politician? What about short-changing the public by flip-flopping on decisions? Integrity must be part of how politicians lead.
On the integrity spectrum donations, lobbying, and access to political leaders can be quite murky issues.

Instead of meeting with voters and potential members and debating on issues, politicians are now found in lavish fund raising dinners with donors.

Imagine if most Ontario politicians had integrity? Our province would not be in the state financially or morally that it is in today. There is hope for this province and the whole of Canada if politicians choose to be honest with their constituents regarding policies and promises.

wendy-hofmanDr. Wendy Hofman – a Professor of Counselling and Clinical Counsellor

These are the opinions of the writer who has been actively engaged in the political process in Burlington.

 

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Central high parents to premiere a CBC television drama in the high school auditorium Monday night.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 7th, 20017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It’s back to school for everyone on Monday – the students show up sometime before 9 am and parents arrive before 8 pm to enjoy a premiere showing of the new CBC drama Pure on Monday, January 9th in the school auditorium.

Doors open for a meet and greet with the cast and crew at 8 pm and the screening will start at 9pm sharp.
Please join the members of the cast and crew to celebrate this captivating new Canadian television series.

pure-screen-shot-buggy

The first of six part CBC mini series will be premiered at Central high school Monday night.

This event is free of charge but the school will be collecting non-perishable items for the food bank as well as donations to the Burlington Central breakfast program. This event is open to the whole community.

Central high school is one of two that were recommended to be closed as part of a reduction in the number of classroom seats in the Burlington high schools.

The community has rallied and is in the process of showing the public that the school is more than a collection of classrooms.

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It is slick, looks interesting but it isn't what it appears - they don't want you - they want your identity.

Crime 100By Staff

January 7th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is the email real?

Is there really an opportunity for you to cruise through the aisles of a shopping mall near you and spend hours looking at things but not having to spend as much as a dime – and get paid for just walking around?

There may be jobs like that out there but the email shown below isn’t going to get you one of those jobs.

shopper-scam

This isn’t a job opportunity – it is an opportunity for these people to learn all thy can about YOU so they can take much of what you own.

There is no address for the company and there is no way for you to communicate directly with them.

They want you to click on that email and send them some basic information about yourself. Once you do that they will begin grooming you; collecting bits and pieces of information about you and your finances and if they determine that you have anything worth stealing – they will bleed you dry.

Remember, if it looks too good to be true – it probably isn’t true.

Don’t let you greed and you gullibility get the best of you.

Smile and take a pass on this one.

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Data gathering process didn't seem to satify many of the parents; Central high school is the only one actively fighting to save their school.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 6th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Part 3 of a 3 part series

The Halton District School Board held a public meeting to gather data on what people felt about how public educations are delivered and paid for.  The Gazette has run a three part series on the data collected.  This is the third of the series.

The 25 questions were asked of about 350 people attending the event.  256 were given hand held clickers to enter their responses.  58.6% of the responders were from Central high school; 16.8% from Pearson and 16.8% from Hayden; 2.7% from Aldershot ; 2.3% from Nelson; 2% from Bateman and .8% from Robinson.

Quite how the members of the PARC are going to evaluate and use data that is so heavily skewed to one school will be interesting to watch.

Question 18: The Board’s current walk distance for secondary students is a maximum of 3.2 km. How important is it that your child(ren) are within the Board mandated walking distance to reach school?
Very 78.3%; somewhat 8.7%; not very 8.3%; not at all 4.7%

Bikes at Beaudoin schoolQuestion 19: Which of the following is your child’s most common form of travel to school currently?
School bus 14.5%; car 8.6%; Public transit 0%; walk 68.8%; bike 6.6%; other 1.6%

Question 20: How important is it that the Board be fiscally responsible by reducing transportation to each school?
Very 61.1%; somewhat 17.8%; not very 8.9%; not at all 12.1%

Question 21: How important is it for your child(ren) to spend their secondary years in one school community?
Very 92.2%; somewhat 5.4%; Bot very 2.3%; not at all 0%

Question 22: The Ministry does not fund empty pupil places. To what extent do you agree that the Board should reallocate its limited budget to fund these places?
Strongly 52.6%; 21.6%; somewhat disagree 12.1%; strongly agree 8.3%

Question 23: The Board’s MYP (Define) states it will maintain a minimum overall averae of 90% building capacity. To what extent do you agree with this goal around future sustainability of Burlington’s secondary schools?
Strongly agree 8.3% ; somewhat agree 14.1%; somewhat disagree 22%; strongly disagree 55.6%

Question 24: The goal in the current MYP is to use innovative approaches to student learning spaces (e.g. classrooms, gymnasiums). To what extent do you feel the current situation in Burlington high schools is sustainable?
Very 47.6%; somewhat 28.8%; not very 10.5%; not at all 13.1%

Question 25: Of the four themes which is the most important to you?
The facilitator wanted to know which of the four themes the questions were put into was the most important to the audience
The themes were:

Programing and enrollment
Physical sate of existing school
Geographical and transportation issues
Fiscal responsibility and future planning

Data on the choices was not captured

parc-quickie-dec-8-16

Members of the PARC at a quick meeting after the first public meeting at Gary Allan high school early in December.

It took a little arm twisting to get the data from the Board of Education.  The Gazette was at first told it would be made available to the PARC and then released to the public.  The Gazette persuaded the Board that it was public information gathered at a public meeting and was therefore public – and they released it the following day.

portrait of Scott Podrebarac

Scott Podrebarac, a Board of Education Superintendent and Chair of the PARC

Scott Podrebarac, a Board of Education Superintendent and Chair of the PARC,  said a more fulsome report will be prepared before the first working meeting of the PARC in late January.

Parent comment varied – little of it all that positive:

One parent said: “My thoughts are that if the purpose of the meeting was to actually gather public input, it pretty much failed big-time. If the purpose was simply for the board to be able to check off a box that they satisfied Ministry or Board guidelines to hold a public session to say they gathered public input, I suppose they accomplished their mission. The meeting occurred, but that’s about it.

parc-crowd-dec-8-16

Parents and some students at the public meeting where data was gathered.

Another said: “We thought since it was billed as a chance for us to answer their questions and ask our own questions that (a) the questions we were answering would be non-biased and easy to understand. They were neither; and (b) that our own questions for them would be answered, not simply asked and then left to float off into the air.

I don’t see how they will be able to use the data to prove anything, since many schools were barely represented according to the attendance figures from each school, and since it was clearly publicly aired over the course of the entire evening that people were confused by the questions, found them biased, and felt they were not being heard at all with their own questions.

The fact that many Superintendents and senior staff and the Director all fled the meeting instead of offering to answer those questions, certainly did not go over well.

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series

 

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Data collected on parent views about high school closings lacks balance but there are some interesting insights.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Part 2 of a 3 part series.

The gathering of the data from 256 parents who were responding to the 25 questions posed by Kirk Perris of Ipsos, the company hired by the Board of Education to facilitate the public meetings and the meetings of the PARC (Program accommodation Review Committee) was not a particularly friendly event.

Stuart_Miller___Gallery

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller

The parents were expecting a dialogue – with questions asked and answers given. The Board Director of Education chose not to stay for the meeting – he was at the Gary Allan high school greeting people but said he left before the meeting got underway on the advice of staff.

Stuart Miller is not the kind of man to avoid an issue – the public would have been better served if Miller had chosen to follow his own instincts.

The data gathered came from: 58.6% of the responders were from Central high school; 16.8% from Pearson and 16.8% from Hayden; 2.7% from Aldershot ; 2.3% from Nelson; 2% from Bateman and .8% from Robinson.

They were clearly skewed to how parents from Central high school felt.

Questions 1 to 8 were covered in the first part of this three part series.

Question 9: How concerned are you that your child(ren) has access to appropriate learning facilities (ie kitchens, science labs gyms, libraries)?
Very, 63.7%; somewhat 22.4%; not very 6.6%; not at all 7.3%

Question 10: How concerned are you that some high schools have large amounts of specialized learning spaces that remain underutilized?
Very 7%; somewhat 21.7%; not very 35.7%; Not at all 35.7%

Question 11: How important is it for your home school to have a full range of extra-curricular activities? (e.g. drama, arts, athletics, clubs) for your child(ren).

Very 46.4%; somewhat 35.2%; not very 13.4%; not at all 5%

Question 12: How likely are you to support your child(ren) participating in extracurricular activities at another school?
Very 27.9%; somewhat 26.7; not very 19%not at all 26.4%

Question 13: How important is it for your child to have access to the highest level of competition in athletics?
Very 7.3%; somewhat 11.5%; not very 26.9%; not at all54.2%

Given the number of people who responded to the question and the fact that more than 50% were from Central this question and the answers given should not be seen as the view for all the high schools. Nelson and Hayden parents would respond quite differently – which suggests there could perhaps be a couple of high schools that would have sports team with other high schools offering a different academic environment.

central-people-in-front-of-qp

Central high students outside the provincial legislature.

Does an arts high school, a science focused high school make sense? Is there going to be an opportunity for parent’s city wide have a fulsome discussion about this?

There are all kinds of questions that come to the surface as the data captured is analyzed.  Serious question but the schedule set out doesn’t all all that much time for pauses and opportunities for the parents to gather and discuss amongst them selves with their trustees in the room in a less than formal format what they as a community wants. The existing schedule might not really be serving the public interest.

The parents may need some time to be educated on just what is possible and what doesn’t work from an educational point of view.

Question 14: How important is the physical condition of your existing school to you (e.g. environmental sustainability, energy consumption, safety)?
Very 31.4%; somewhat 15.5%; not very 13.4%; not at all 39.7%

Question 15: How important is it that the board ensures that schools have an up to date fully accessible learning environment, e.g. elevators, air-conditioning?
Very 23.1%; somewhat 15.7%; not very 13.2%; not at all 47.9%

central-high-school

Central high school – the oldest of the seven schools with a rich local history and a community deeply committed to keeping it open,

Do the answers to this question reveal the different realities different high schools face? At Central the students use classroom on the third floor where there is acceptable heat in the really cold weather. Are Occupational Health and Safety Policies going to require elevators or escalators in high schools? And can older high schools be upgraded at an acceptable cost?

Question 16: How important is it to you to preserve existing community partnerships at your child(rens) current school? (e.g. swimming pool. Library, community centre).
Very 38.6%; somewhat 14.3%; not very 19.5%; not at all 27.5%

Question 17: How important is it to you to minimize the use of portable classrooms?
Very 63.1%; somewhat 10.7%; not very 10.7%; not at all 15.5%

Did anyone expect much in the way of a different response to this question?

Questions 18 to 25 will be covered in the third part of this series.

Links to related articles:

Part 1 of a 3 part series.

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One of the most refreshing minutes you will have today - the creatures we share this world with.

News 100 greenBy Staff

January 5th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

owl-burrowing

Hello!

Everyone likes nature – to be out for a walk in a forested area and suddenly see a young doe standing very still watching you. There is both an intimacy and a magic to it all.

Watching traffic stop while a flock of geese cross the road taking their sweet time aggravates for a moment until you begin to appreciate that we share this planet.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology sent out the following short video.

It will change the way you see the day – less than a minute to view – well worth the time.

Enjoy

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