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

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 9th, 2017



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

Grebenc - expressive hands

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

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

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

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

Trustees Grebencand Gray BEST

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

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

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

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

PARC Feb 9 Reynolds and Grebenc

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

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

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

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

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

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

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

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

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

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

  • Affected Taxpayer

    It is very easy for ‘armchair’ politicians to share opinions based on their perspective of facts. Burlington had to close schools to maintain viable programs, this should never have been a ‘save my school’ game. The trustees did the difficult job they were elected to do, one that required thought, data and follow through. People can slant hte numbers to spout their narratives, but the fact remains that Burlington is over services in secondary schools and closures are necessary. It is always an easier pill to swallow then it is in someone else’s backyard.

    • Tom Muir

      I don’t know how your armchair swiveled in its perspective of all the information and debate presented here, but you missed the facts of how the the Board built the “over services in secondary schools” without telling us beforehand, and stung us all later to pay this debt with closures.

      They cost Burlington dearly. And they wanted paid twice. Swindlers.

      Your seeming failure to know this means you slant your own spout that has no factual discussion for your own narrative.

      The savings are trivial, and program viability can be improved with optimal distribution of the enrollment. Closures are not necessary, and you provide nothing to support that they are.

      The trustees did nothing with this data, people say, and I can agree, there was no follow through, and none of their thought was shared with me or anybody else I know. I asked repeatedly for 7 months.

      Got zip. Where were you?

      Maybe you know better and can provide some evidence of this.

      What trustees did was wave what was done by, and just covered it up with no mention. They don’t want to question their past decisions with any light.

  • Denise Knowles

    I don’t think she took the time to listen to the parents of the students….what kind of a person who did go to the school. She did a lot of bragging about herself….
    Idont think she used comment all. Her tears give me a break….all her bragging about what she accomplished going to Pearson, dones not match her decison..its a growing community, I don’t like people like her.
    ..good luck on your next election…and maybe you don’t care..

  • Sharon

    Next year’s election will be interesting! I hope that Burlington does not forget Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

  • Cassandra

    If only the Trustees used common sense when voting!

  • Steve Atkinson

    Sadly, this shows that Steve Armstrongs’ extremely detailed analysis of the 1000 student policy was ignored. Its’ as though delegations and letters never happened.

    I do not doubt that all Trustees worked diligently in their own way, my personal experience was that I received almost no feedback or discussion during the process. An average response to my many missives ( usually “thank you for your thoughts” ) was 3 out of 11 or less.

  • George

    Dear Trustee Grebenc – good luck on the next election!

  • LBP Alumni

    Pepper, you mentioned Grebenc delivered her comments at the board meeting “with a solid dose of hard common sense”. Her decision missed much of the common sense of the situation though. I think this is summed up very well by a Pearson parent’s letter to Trustees this week, shared on the Save Lester B Pearson High School page:

    Dear Trustee,

    Today is decision day. The day when you, the Board of Trustees, will vote on whether to accept the Director’s report, and close two High Schools (Lester B Pearson and Robert Bateman) in Burlington, or whether to go another route.
    Over the past months, you have received many passionate and evidence-based letters, some of them pages in length. For the sake of brevity, I will go a simpler route. Common sense.

    Common sense indicates that it does not make sense to close the second and third newest high schools in the city.

    Common sense indicates that it does not make sense to close Lester B Pearson while building of new homes is still occurring in the north of the city. Turnover of homes, particularly in the areas of Brant Hills, Mountainside, and Palmer, from older citizens to young and growing families also means more students.

    Common sense indicates that it does not make sense to close a smaller high school (which contained a full range of programming prior to the building of Hayden) in a time where anxiety in teenagers is on the rise.

    Common sense indicates that closing Pearson Co-operative Nursery School will be detrimental to the community as a whole.

    Common sense indicates that more cars on the road, due to students no longer being able to walk to school is not what is best for those students, our environment, or the city.

    Common sense indicates that the PAR process should have allowed for parents of children in Elementary School a chance to sit on the committee.

    Common sense would lead you to the decision that simply moving the current boundaries, and more evenly sharing the number of feeder schools per High School, particularly north of the QEW, solves the majority of the current problems, while also allowing for further changes over time. This decision will bring back the students who have elected to switch Boards to attend Notre Dame and Corpus Christi, and stop future high school students making the same choice.

    We have put our trust in you, the trustees, to do what is right. I hope that common sense is the basis of your decision making tonight. Common sense, and what is best for the students themselves.

    Authored by Carrie Van Kessel, parent of students in Grades 3 & 6