Pearson alumni challenges statements made by trustee who voted for closure of the high school.

opinionandcommentBy Staff

June 10th, 2017



Parents with an interest in what has happened to the two high schools that are going to be closed by the Halton District school Board are beginning to voice their concerns.

LBP George Ward + Rory Nisen

Rory Nisan, on the left, a Lester B. Pearson alumni who credits the small enrollment school with much of his career success.

Rory Nisan, a Lester B. Pearson alumni, takes issue with the explanation Burlington Ward 3 and 6 trustee Andrea Grebenc released yesterday.

“She is adamant about 1000 being the necessary number of students” said Nisan. “This is the crux of her argument for closing our school. However, are mega schools optimal, especially when they are way over designed capacity?

“Absolutely not. They are a far worse scenario than having all three schools at 800-plus students, which is easily achievable (we provided her with the data and a clear plan for this).

“Simply giving back the students that were taken away when Hayden opened would fix the problem. Her vote guarantees that MM and Hayden will be well over capacity for many years if not indefinitely.

“She knew this when she made her decision.”

Nissan adds that Grebenc says there “seemed to be more course conflicts than students”. These are empty words. They don’t take into account that the student experience would have been greatly enhanced with 800 students, a number that is easily achieved by bringing Hayden’s capacity down to appropriate levels.

“She also knew this when she made her decision.”

“She notes” said Nisan that “all of the extracurriculars in which she participated as evidence of how much she loved Pearson. However, with MM and Hayden becoming two mega schools with over 1400 pupils each in 2021, students of those schools will have far fewer opportunities than she did.

“She knew this also.”

Lester Pearson at Upper Middle and Headon

Lester Pearson parents demonstrating at Upper Middle and Headon

Nisan, using the material Grebenc provided said that “Again, 1000 students is the minimum, she says. But she voted in favour a dual campus solution for Bateman even though that school only has 747 students (2017).

“Why didn’t she support (or even show any consideration of) a dual campus for MM and Pearson? Why is she more innovative in thinking about Bateman than a school that so many of her constituents have a stake in?

“She knew this was a possibility, in addition to giving Pearson some of Hayden’s students, when she made her decision.”

The 1000 student target that Grebenc appears to see as close to optimum “is not supported by any data that came forth through the entire process. Pearson was never meant to have 1000 students. Several other schools in Burlington will continue to have significantly less than 1000 students after this process is complete. She never mentioned closing any of them” said Nisan.

“She knew this too.”

“She notes that there were 1000 students when she was there because she went through her yearbook and “counted every face”. She fails to mention that there was OAC (grade 13) when she was a student.

“I went through my yearbook (1998)” said Grebenc in her statement. “Pearson was a bustling school that year. The porto-pac was packed. Our sports teams were solid, and I don’t remember ever having a course conflict.”


The high school will have emptied parents cast ballots in the October 2018 municipal election.

Guess how many grade 9-12 students there were? asks Nisan:  686.  Another 151 OAC grads rounded out the student body.

“She had these numbers at her fingertips when she made her decision.”

Trustee Grebenc’s short intervention used the word “I” 34 times.

Trustee Grebenc’s statement, filled with rhetoric and hyperbole, and devoid of any data or arguments that passes even superficial scrutiny, was a failure” said Nisan.

“Our students will have to pay the price.”

Related article:

Why Grebenc voted against keeping Lester B. Pearson high school open

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12 comments to Pearson alumni challenges statements made by trustee who voted for closure of the high school.

  • Sharon

    Miller is wrong that a new slate of trustees can not overturn the decision. Trustees have 6 months to overturn any decision. That 6 months up will be in December. And how far in will the Board be? And who cares? We are talking about kids and their education. I have heard Miller say on a few occasions. “What is best for the students.”

  • Steve Atkinson

    Spoke to a co-worker today who went through this process in another city in Ontario some years ago. His experience was identical. A foregone conclusion from the outset. The “community engagement” is an empty promise. Thats why they all ignored the delegations, simply not part of the plan. We are a nuisance to be tolerated. I looked at the guidelines for Administrative Review of the PAR on The Ministry of Educations website. It does not review the decision, it only reviews the process. Another blind hole, a dead end.

  • Diane Miller

    This was a continual question asked by some trustees. Since 2018 is an election year, what if another group wants to reverse or change decision. Response, “we will be too far along in the process for it to be reversed.”

    • Hans


      IMO “too far along” seems very unlikely and that response is designed to dim the hopes of those opposed to closures. The school board will still own the properties and reopening them would simply create some work for board staff.

      It would be wonderful if some more intelligent people were elected in 2018 and they ordered a decision reversal, along with “right-sizing” the Hayden student population to a more reasonable 90% of capacity (obviously no school can ever operate effectively at 100%), and with NO trailer park on any school properties.

  • craig

    Will there be time to elect a new slate of trustees who can reverse this ill comceived closure. My kids went to MMR so no vested interest her but reading all the numbers details and speaking to kids at Hayden this group of trustees totally messed up and we need to fix the mess. Concern is before we can get some better minds who understand the reasons not to close it will be too late. Are any of the Burlington Trustees worthy of re-electing?

    • Steve Atkinson

      Unfortunately, Craig the Director timed the hasty closure of LB Pearson for June 2018, BEFORE the elections. Despite the first PAR meeting where we were told that the HDSB favours letting students graduate in the school they started. That in other PARS they grandfathered the existing students. Not true, my Grade 10 daughter will not graduate at LBP because of the fast-track to closure. Bateman was granted an extension. Try getting an answer on this one from HDSB ! Remember its “for the good of the students” !

      • craig

        For the good of the students I like that humour maybe Stuart miller wants to be a comedian can’t be any worse at that then he has been thru the closure process guess can’t get rid of him eh or maybe new slate of trustees can?

      • Teri

        Bateman got the extension because their trustee brought forward a motion to change the closure date. Too bad trustee Papin didn’t do the same for Pearson.

    • LBP Alumni

      Here’s the problem as I see it; a constituent in Georgetown won’t care that two schools in Burlington were closed so Jeanne Gray, who is the trustee for that ward and appeared to have no issue with closing LBP & Bateman, will not be held accountable for her decision.

      These dimwitted trustees chose Miller as director and then so easily accept his obtuse vision of how Burlington’s high school system should function. There has got to be a better way of running things!

  • Marshall

    Not in her ward but Andrea Grebenc must join the list of the un-electables. In fact most of the HDSB should be turfed for allowing this travesty to occur.

  • Steve Atkinson

    Steve Armstrong provided a brilliant analysis of the 1000 student theory. Too bad no one at HDSB or Trustees or Ministry of Education even bothered to acknowledge it.

  • Hans

    Rory Nisan makes perfect sense; e.g.: his point on the effect on student populations of losing Grade 13; student participation opportunities will be diminished by overloading/overcrowding schools; and that after system reconfiguration there will be other schools that will not meet Grebenc’s phony arbitrary closure criterion of a minimum 1000 students.

    Andrea Grebenc makes no sense at all and her ability as a trustee is in doubt. She should not be re-elected.

    As someone who attended a high school of ~500 students for grades 9 & 10 and completed grades 11 to 13 in a school of 1000+, I can say with certainty that the smaller high school was more effective for me.