March 20th, 2017
The leading news story this past few months has been the work being done by the Halton District School Board to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools and the work being done by parent groups to keep their local high school open.
It is no surprise that the two are at odds much of the time.
Part of the process required to close a school is a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) that crates a committee of people, two from each high school, who are tasked with being the official conduit for information shared between the Board of Trustees and school communities.
They were given a framework to guide their deliberations. They had no input on what those guidelines were.
The fourteen people chosen to do this work, which is proving to be close to exhausting, have a tough job to do – and the HDSB doesn’t make it any easier.
The biggest issue appears to be the data that is collected and the information the Board staff pass along.
Two surveys have been done, the first on December 8th at the New Street Educational centre where those in attendance got to use clickers to indicate their choice on 25 different questions.
The problem with the data that came out of that questionnaire was that more than 50% of the people responding were from central high school. The data was severely skewed to the Central high school view of things.
The survey was prepared by IPSOS Reid, a world class organization that found itself struggling to maintain their reputation – admitting that the December 8th event was not one of their finest moments.
The second survey was done on line and ended March 13th.
The data was in the hands of IPSOS Reid at the end of that day. Unfortunately the results are not in the hands of the Board yet – this being early Monday afternoon.
That data will have to at least be looked at by Board staff and then sent along to the 14 PARC members who have just the one evening to go over the data and arrive at their own conclusions.
The 14 PARC members are all volunteers with jobs that keep them busy during the day.
It is both unfair and unprofessional to drop a long data dump on these people at close to the last minute and expect them to make reasonable comments. There is no time for them to talk to their parent groups and get feedback.
The PARC was created to act as the official conduit for information shared between the Board of Trustees and school communities. In order for the PARC members to do this they need information on a timely basis – and that just is not happening.
The Ministry of Education Guidelines on the PAR process are new and there are clearly some changes needed.
Consideration might be given to changing the timeline these people have been forced to work within.
The Gazette had hoped to have the survey data in hand and be able to do an analysis so that the public could be aware of that the PARC members are working with.
When a public is shabbily treated by a publicly funded organization they get angry, feel they are being mistreated and look for ways to vent that anger and disappointment. That produces events that are pictured below.