Skinner school board delegation: we have some uncomfortable decisions to make.

highschoolsBy Staff

May 22nd, 2017



Jeremy Skinner, a Ward 5 resident with three students enrolled at Robert Bateman delegated to the Halton District school Board trustees and set out before them what his view of the issue before them was: “The challenge before us is how to maintain student equity in the delivery of programs and opportunities when student enrollments change.”

Skinner Jeremy

Jeremy Skinner

“I believe that the question before us is whether we have sufficient capacity amongst MM Robinson and Dr. Frank J. Hayden to permit the closure of Lester B. Pearson and whether we have sufficient capacity below the QEW to close Robert Bateman?”

Skinner said he felt “obligated to suggest that we “punt” by partitioning some or all remaining Secondary Schools to include students in Grade 7 and 8 like Aldershot and Burlington Central. This will have a positive affect on each Secondary School’s utilization rate which will buy us sufficient time to validate what our ultimate Elementary & Secondary School Network should look like and how best to transition to it.”

The benefits doing this include:

protects capital and staff investments which have already been made at Robert Bateman and Lester B Pearson.

provides flexibility in the board’s capacity response to spikes in future enrollments in Burlington North by enabling three Secondary Schools to respond.

Benefits Grade 7 & 8 students through exposure to a wider range of programs and opportunities such as the technical trades at an earlier grade.


Current elementary school catchment boundaries will need to be reassessed and redrawn as required.

Current secondary school catchment boundaries will need to be reassessed and redrawn as required.

Elementary schools may result in underutilization and thus may have to close.

Skinner added that “In the case of Lester B Pearson, I believe that the short-term risk for closure is too high because too much is dependent upon redirecting student enrollments associated with Dr. Frank J. Hayden to other Burlington-North Secondary Schools. I believe that this risk could be mitigated through Trustee led community discussions to seek agreements for student enrollment to Burlington-North Secondary Schools.”

Skinner then enlarged his field of view and said: “We need to consider the City of Burlington’s revised Official Plan, currently in draft, which identifies 8 major areas of intensification. They are:


The city’s latest approach to directing growth.

the Downtown Core and related Downtown Mobility Hub;
Uptown Centre located at Appleby and Upper-Middle Road;
Mobility Hubs which surround the Aldershot,  Burlington and Appleby GO stations;
The Fairview St. Corridor, and
Most major plazas

The intent is to provide for mixed-use of residential, retail and commercial development of these lands. This will likely take the form of:

relocating the bulk of ground level parking underground or into multilevel purpose built parking towers;

locating retail and/or commercial on the ground and lower floors which comprise the podium of mid-height and high-height residential buildings; and

integrating townhomes and/or stacked townhomes.

An illustration as to what is envisioned, can be found on the east side of Appleby Line from Corporate Dr. to Iron Stone Drive, just below Upper-Middle Rd. Please note that most of these areas of intensification are in South-Burlington. Regardless as to location, they must be considered in future Long Term Program Accommodation (LTPA) plans.

Appleby - East side south of dundas

Appleby Line from Corporate Dr. to Iron Stone Drive, just below Upper-Middle Rd

Given the information above, Skinner “questions as to whether we will have sufficient capacity in South Burlington in the longer term to warrant the closure of Robert Bateman which is best positioned to serve the proposed Appleby GO Mobility Centre.

He suggests “Partitioning Secondary Schools permits us to restore some of the Secondary School catchments back to what they were prior to the erection of Frank J. Hayden which covers North-East Burlington. Then we would adjust each Secondary School catchment to accommodate our best forecast of student enrollments from new residential neighbourhoods.

Bateman high school

Should the Boar of Trustees go along with what the Director of Education has recommended Bateman high school would be closed, demolished and the programs they deliver would be distributed to other high schools.

“Regardless as to which, if any, Burlington Secondary Schools are to close, I believe we are dependent upon HDSB to ensure that current students who are most vulnerable to change and those who seek a career based upon Technical Trade Skills.

“Accommodation of these students and their programs will require significant investments to any Secondary School which is to receive them.

Nelson HS aerial rendering

Many of the programs currently offered at Bateman high school would be transferred to Nelson high school. New facilities would have to be built – at a cost of $12 million

“I seek clarification for the statement made that “ Nelson will need to add technical shops and special need facilities to accommodate students transitioning from Robert Bateman.”

Skinner concedes that “that we have some uncomfortable decisions to make. The decision to even contemplate the closure of one or more secondary schools has a significant impact to the community fabric.”

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7 comments to Skinner school board delegation: we have some uncomfortable decisions to make.

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Thank you for your comments. Sorry, but you will not see my name on a ballot anytime soon as I would prefer to continue to advise on policy. Please be sure to convey what you want to see regarding the Director`s recommendations soon. Time to do so is running out.

  • Sharon

    Agree with you Stephen!

  • Stephen White

    Great assessment Jeremy! Very well-reasoned and thought out.

    Amazing how all the people writing on this issue (i.e. Tom Muir, Jeremy Skinner, etc.) are so much more informed, incisive, reasoned and logical in their analysis and discussion than the Board of Education personnel who, supposedly, are the experts on this subject.

    Maybe we just found our new Public School Board of Education School Trustee for Ward 5 in Jeremy. He would be an improvement over the incumbent.

  • Gary Scobie

    Mr. Skinner has made a well thought out delegation. Now that we are nearly built out in our urban area, the infill of intensification will drive new student numbers, and I’m just not sure of the accuracy of HDSB planning forecasts.

    The knee-jerk reaction to close two schools to make up for the low current enrollments, some caused by building Hayden High School too soon and over-filling it with “drafted” students, is premature. We may soon need one or both of these schools recommended for closure for an influx of students from intensification. It’s too big of a risk to close them now in my opinion.

    • Tom Muir


      The Hayden build is far more than “some” of the cause.

      They built what is now 1500-1600 surplus seats there, with more to come according to projections, which is pretty close to the number of surplus seats the Board Director is telling us we now have.

      That’s where the “low UTZ” of the other schools, now on the block, came from for sure.

      This is all documented.

      • Gary Scobie

        I understand your point Tom. But I said and meant “some” of the low enrollments because I don’t believe Hayden is a cause of low enrollments at Aldershot and Central. I think those are related to neighbourhood demographic catchment issues at this current time in history. I fully understand your reasoning concerning the other high schools.