School board trustees vote to form Program Accommodation Review Committees to review the staff recommendation to close two high schools - Central and Lester B. Pearson.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2016


There will be a Program Accommodation Review (PAC) – and it is going to keep the parents hoping.

Board of Education trustees voted last night 10 – 1 to form Program Accommodation Review Committees.

The possible closure of both Burlington Central High school and Lester B. Pearson high school are now distinct possibilities.

There is a tremendous amount of work to get done and the learning curve is going to be very steep for the parents.

A Program Accommodation Review is something a board of education has to do when the enrollment in a school falls below 65%.


Central High school could handle an additional 275 students – but they just don’t live in the community.


Lester B. Pearson is a small school to start with and enrollment is projected to decline.

The recommendation the Board put on the table was to look at closing both Lester B. Pearson and Burlington Central High school.

Central High is a large school with a very strong connection to their community – they hit the ground running and have made strong arguments for not even holding a Program Accommodation review at this time.

The trustees didn’t see it that way and voted to take the next step which is to form a Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC). (Note the school board people love acronyms – get used to them.)

The task now is to create the PARC’s.  Burlington Central is well prepared for this next step.
Lester B. Pearson (LBP), a much smaller high school and it doesn’t have the depth as a community school that Central has. We will return to the LBP situation.

Trustees - Papin - Oliver - Grebenc

Trustees Papin, Oliver and Grebenc

The Board of Trustees is responsible for deciding the most appropriate pupil accommodation arrangements for the delivery of its elementary and secondary programs. Decisions that are made by the Board of Trustees are in the context of carrying out its primary responsibilities of fostering student achievement and well-being, and ensuring effective stewardship of school board resources. The Board of Trustees may consider undertaking pupil accommodation reviews that may lead to school consolidations and closures in order to address declining and shifting student enrollment.

Trustees - Gray - Reynolds - Collard

Trustees Sams, Reynolds and Collard.

The PARC process has been revised and this is the first time the Halton Board has had to work under the new rules which shorten the amount of time to go through that process.

Here are the steps that are going to be taken:

● Director’s Preliminary Report to the Board of Trustees; DONE
● Preparation of the School Information Profile(s); these are ready to now be turned over to the PARC that is to be formed.
Each high school will have its own PARC
● Board of Trustee’s approval to undertake a Program and Accommodation review process; They did that on October 19th.
● Communication with all stakeholders about the process, opportunities for involvement, and identifying outcomes; The Board staff are going to have their work cut out for them on this level.
● Establishing the Program and Accommodation Review Committee; The jockeying for the spaces on this committee is going to be interesting to watch.
● Consultation with Local Municipal Governments/Community Partners;
● Public Meetings;
● Final Staff Report, including a Community Consultation section;
● Public Delegations to the Board of Trustees;
● Decision by the Board of Trustees; and,
● Implementation and Transition Planning.

A PARC will be formed following the consideration by the Board of Trustees of the Director’s Preliminary Report.


Parents getting the agenda explained to them by the Board o Education communications manager.

The PARC will consist of the following persons:

A Trustee as an ad hoc member, and Superintendent, both from an area not under study;

From each affected school:

the school Principal or designate (resource only)

two parents/guardians from each school, one of whom will be nominated by the School Council Chair; the other will be selected by the Superintendent(s) through the submission by parents of an expression of interest. The Superintendent will review all parent representations and endeavor to ensure that all affected geographic areas and programs are represented.

All Trustees are invited to attend PARC working meetings to observe the proceedings.


Dania Thurman on the left – one of the more active parents at Central High school.

The PARC is to be created within five business days of the motion to form the PARC was passed – which happened yesterday. Things begin to move very quickly at this point – and it is going to be difficult for the parents at Lester B. Pearson to keep up.

Once the PARC is constituted, it will invite a municipal Councillor or delegate to join the Committee. The Committee will be deemed to be properly constituted whether or not all of the listed members are willing and able to participate.


Matthew DiSouza – a Lester B. Pearson student

The Board will invite PARC members from the school(s) under review to an orientation session that will describe the mandate, roles and responsibilities, and procedures of the PARC.

That is what the community is going to immerse themselves in – the people selected for the PARC is important – getting the right people is important.

How did we get to this point? Well enrollment numbers were the first indicator that a change was needed. Burlington has seven high schools, Oakville has six. And Oakville has a larger high school population than Burlington.

Director of Education Stuart Miller explained that the preferred size of a high school is 1200 students. He added using that number Burlington has one and a half too many high schools.

That is the lens the board of education bureaucrat use – they have to look at the numbers – the province requires that they do just that.

However, it is the parents that are at the top of the food chain. It is their money that pays for everything and it is the education of their children that is at issue.

It is now up to the parents to come up with the ideas that will resolve the problem on the table.


Director of Education Stuart Miller getting a briefing.

Miller said a number of times that the option put on the table is rarely if ever the option that gets chosen. Which is fine but in order to be able to come up with the best option parents need to ensure that they do not lose control of the process.

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2 comments to School board trustees vote to form Program Accommodation Review Committees to review the staff recommendation to close two high schools – Central and Lester B. Pearson.

  • Steve

    Also, an astonishingly large number of housing units can be crammed in this large open space. A drooling proposition for the advocates of intensification (overcrowding).

  • John

    “the people selected for the PARC is important”

    It’s not only important for the schools under consideration it’s essential for all students and tax payers in the city.

    Balancing the PARC members with trustees and superintendents from outside the effected schools with parents that are understandably and even expected to have a certain amount of bias in their recommendations, will produce the best possible solutions.

    The city will be invited to play a roll with an appointed representative. Avoiding appointments to the PARC that have obvious conflicts or have expressed pre determined conclusions will not only benefit the process it will contribute to unbiased and objective recommendations that will benefit the students, regardless of the school the attend.