Part 1 of a series: Schools to be closed - Director's conclusions.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 22nd, 2017



Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education sent a 40 page report to the trustees he report to and included 18 appendices with it.

It is a document that is not going to keep everyone happy.

The basic recommendation is to:

Bateman - crowd sceneClose: Robert Bateman High School to be closed June 2019 and students re-directed to Nelson High School and M.M. Robinson High School.

The International Baccalaureate Program to transfer from Robert Bateman High School to Burlington Central High School, effective September 2019.



pearson-high-school-signClose: Lester B. Pearson High School to be closed June 2018 and the students re-directed to M.M. Robinson High School commencing September 2018.

French Immersion program to be moved from Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School as of September 2018, beginning with the Grade 9 program.

Students from the “Evergreen” community (currently undeveloped) will be directed to M.M. Robinson High School.

There’s a one-page exec summary, 40-ish pages to the report and 18 appendices of varying length. It comes in at well over 200 pages.

The Gazette is going to break the report out into sections and report on each.

Bateman closing rationale

Pearson closing rationale

The selling of Board of Education property

The financial implications.

The bigger picture

We start with Miller’s conclusion:

The Burlington secondary Program and Accommodation Review (PAR) has been a challenging situation for both the Halton District School Board and the communities they serve. It has been especially difficult as all of the schools impacted in this process have served their communities and students well for many, many years.

Miller prep at Central

Director of Education, Stuart Miller.

However as challenging as the process has been, and the resultant perception of its outcome, Burlington’s low enrolment in secondary schools and their projected continued decline has created challenges for the Halton District School Board in providing the same equity of opportunity for these students relative to others in the Board. The students who attend Halton District School Board secondary schools in Burlington deserve the same opportunities, both in range of courses/program offerings and in co/extra-curriculars as those in other areas of the Board.

As a consequence, the Halton District School Board of Trustees approval to initiate a PAR process was based on the two criteria of the policy that are directly related to student opportunities.

School closures in any community are a great challenge for school boards around the province. The Burlington Secondary Program and Accommodation Review is no exception and has without question resulted in many Burlington families feeling anxious and concerned with respect to their community schools and their own children who attend them. It has been especially difficult for the students who currently attend these schools as much was unknown.

However, school closures also present opportunities. The recommendations in this report will create two composite schools, one in the northwest and one in the southeast that house a variety of regional programs, and serve a wider range of students. These recommendations will allow some students in regional programs to be closer to their home, and spend less time on a bus.

Additionally, the recommendations will provide more funds, through both proceeds of disposition and reduced operational costs, to allow for facility upgrades to the remaining schools. They will allow for a geographic balance in the City of Burlington.

The recommendations will also allow for a greater number of students in most programs, but in particular the mandatory Ontario English curriculum, which will also allow for greater breadth and range of course selections. They also allow for a more flexible timetable supporting student choice. The recommendations allow for a greater number of co-curriculars and extra-curriculars, again allowing for greater student choice.

There is still an issue with the low enrolment at Aldershot High School. This will continue to be an issue, and the Halton District School Board is committed to supporting these students as it does with all others.

The location of Aldershot High School made it much more challenging to address the declining enrolment; however as with other municipalities within the Halton District School Board, the recommendation is to support one school in Burlington with low enrolment. Moreover, the school will be explored as a magnet or thematic school, which may potentially increase enrolments in the future.

The specific recommendations in this report will continue to support community schools, allow the majority of students to walk to school, will enhance program offerings, reduce course conflicts, enhance co/extra-curriculars, and most importantly continue to provide high quality instruction and support of Burlington’s secondary school students. The recommendations contained within this report are intended to improve and enhance the equity of opportunity for all Burlington secondary school students. This will allow the five remaining Burlington secondary schools to thrive as dynamic, engaging learning environments for decades to come.

Miller with students Mar 7-17

Miller engaged students throughout the public process.

The students likely to have the greatest concern with respect to this report are those presently at the schools recommended to close, and who will be transitioning to a new school.

It is incumbent upon the Halton District School Board to ensure and support a smooth transition of these students. This is paramount. Funds will be made available to support both the transition and integration of these students into their new school.

For students yet to attend Robert Bateman High School and Lester B. Pearson High School, their home school will be either Nelson High School, M.M. Robinson High School or Burlington Central High School. Prior experience would indicate these students will see these schools as their home school.

There is still much work to do, not the least of which is the transition and integration of the students. This process will be tasked to a diverse committee under the supervision of a superintendent.

There is no question this has been a challenging process for the entire community of Burlington secondary students and their families. However the Halton District School Board was facing, and indeed had faced a challenge in providing equity for those very same students for the foreseeable future.

The choice was to allow a situation that deprived secondary students in Burlington the same opportunities as other students in the Halton District School Board, or to address this inequity and make a recommendation to enhance these students’ secondary school experience.

The primary focus of the Halton District School Board’s secondary schools is to prepare students for what comes after (post-secondary, career, pathways) they leave our schools. It is essential the Halton District School Board prepare our students with a broad range of pathways and program opportunities.

In the Halton District School Board’s Multi-Year Plan, the vision is “Every student will explore and enhance their potential, passions, and strengths to thrive as contributing global citizens”. The intent and spirit of this report and recommendations is to fulfill that vision for every student attending Burlington secondary schools now, and for the years ahead.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.