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

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 24th, 2017



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

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

Eric who PARC

Steve Armstrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Steve Armstrong with Cheryl DeLught

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

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

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

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

Parents in front of maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collard and Miller

Amy Collard eye-balling Stuart Miller

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

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

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

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

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

  • Steve Atkinson

    What a farce. Skewed surveys, incorrect numbers, flawed process, no community engagement. Bewildered staff and trustees. Absent MPP, meddling Councillor, last-minute flip-flop by the Director, hasty report. And our children will pay the price for years to come while the school board crows about “improved programming”. Playing politics at the cost of childrens’ education. It is truly despicable.

    • Tom Muir


      I think you mentioned the Ombudsman, and that Office mention of Administrative Review, as options open to moving forward on doing something about this.