Pearson parent doesn't see the Program Accommodation Review Process as a done deal.

opinionandcommentBy Cheryl DeLugt

October 12th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The intrinsic nature behind the school closures in Burlington is clearer than most may think. For almost a year now the Halton District School Board (HDSB) has been instrumental in its’ ability to have consistently provided the community a false sense of good intentions when it comes to closing our schools.

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Cheryl DeLugt and Steve Armstrong with the message from the community.

Let’s face it….our schools were doomed, some would say…”A Done Deal”. Well, that was at least what was implied by the HDSB and how the majority of the community felt from the very beginning of the Program Accommodation Review Process (PAR). As the PAR process unfolded, it became more evident that closing a school or two was their primary objective.

The mere fact that our school was named and recommended to be closed in advance of any community input or public consultation, made it obvious the board had its own agenda, which in turn became the driving force behind the HDSB efforts to assure their plans to close Burlington high schools were achieved.

It now appears, to many community members, that the whole PAR process was intended to attain a controlled means of community input sufficient enough to claim community participation as part of the Halton District School Boards’ intent and plan to close two Burlington high schools. The process itself lacked honesty, transparency, logic, reason and effective community input. In addition, those who voted on the final decision were elected officials from outside of the affected communities, making the decision to close any schools in Burlington that much easier, or at least easier on one’s own conscience.

Fiscal responsibility to our community was by no means the predominate factor considered when making the decision to close our schools and if it was, a no school closure would have been given equal consideration. The cost savings of closing schools will be in the result of some staff savings and operating costs, but there will be added costs to decommission, insurance, maintenance, that will be added with closure. If one was to look at accounting for all costs, small schools such as Lester B Pearson are in fact more cost efficient on a per capita student basis than larger schools.

pearson-high-school-sign

Was Lester B. Pearson high school “doomed” from the beginning?

Early on in the PAR process, it was apparent that there was reluctance and obstruction by the HDSB to engage in open and meaningful conversations with the general public and the communities affected by the school closures. This action alone revealed the school board’s lack of transparency and made many residents question the board’s motive for moving so quickly and forcefully to close our schools.

LBP Kim

Kim, a Lester B Pearson high school parent

Perhaps the need for a greater emphasis on more open communication and input from our entire community including local and regional officials including the Mayor of Burlington, should have been actively part of the process. The Halton District School Board just recently announced its’ effort in exploring community partnerships now. In an effort of fairness, democracy, and the Ontario Ministry of Education principles, the HDSB had a moral and legal obligation to have explored other creative options more aggressively including possible community partnerships prior to proposing any school closures.

While the HDSB focuses their efforts on the transition process for Lester B Pearson high school and their desires for a “NEW” Administration building, many members of the community will now redirect their attention on the Burlington citizens appeal to the Ontario Ministry of Education now approved Administrative Review (AR).

With the AR soon underway, the need for better collaboration between the City of Burlington, its’ residents, and the Halton District School Boards prior restriction of information and the dissemination of correct, timely information in a transparent fashion will become apparent.

While the Halton District School Board continually reiterates to the public that the Administrative Review will NOT reverse their decision, it should indeed question it to a fair degree. The purpose of the Administrative Review (AR) is to thoroughly review the board’s honest commitment, integrity and ability to follow the HDSB and Ontario Ministry of Education policies while conducting the prior PAR process plus determine if there is need for HDSB procedural change.

LBP Rachelle Papin 2

Ward 4 school board trustee Rachelle Papin at a school council meeting.

In light of the approval of an AR, and with consideration of the facilitators findings, the community expects our elected Trustees to welcome the opportunity to openly review and change their June 7th, 2017 decision based on newly revealed supportive facts that the process they followed led them to a decision which was indeed without a doubt “flawed”.

After-all, how can and why would any school board or elected official stand behind a decision that they know was made using questionable methods, non- transparency and incorrect information and executed process?

A question we ALL should be asking at this point …especially the school board Trustees.

 

Cheryl De Lught H&SCheryl is a Registered Nurse who was a member of the Program Accommodation Review Committee that was unable to reach a consensus on which if any Burlington high schools should have been closed.

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1 comment to Pearson parent doesn’t see the Program Accommodation Review Process as a done deal.

  • Diane

    It was difficult for the LBP community not to feel this was a done deal when 12/19 proposals indicated LBP closing. The red herring was Central which lulled many others into a false sense of security. The switch caught Bateman students and parents off guard.

    Strange comment at the time when Miller was asked about why the switch to Bateman. He indicated, (paraphrasing) that it couldn’t look like the fix was in. One is left to wonder what he meant by that comment. It certainly looked the fix was in for LBP.

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