There was nothing wrong with the decision the Public School Board made to rent Pearson high school to the Catholic Board. The problem was the way the public was informed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 7th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sometime in April of this year the Director of the Halon District School Board (HDSB) said he got a call from the Director of Education for the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB).

The HCDSB had a problem and she felt there just might be a solution to that problem.

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Assumption High School.

When the Assumption school on Upper Middle Road was built (1977) it was to be a Middle School. It became a high school over time. As a high school it was missing a lot of the needs of a high school particularly the labs.

The HCDSB wanted to build a new high school but could not get the funding they needed from the province.

They were able to get funding for a major renovation which in itself created problems. In would take an expected five years to complete renovations with students in the school which wasn’t something the HCDSB was looking forward to.

In 2016 the HDSB began a Program Accommodation Review of its high schools. In June of 2017 the HDSB trustees voted to close two of the seven high schools in the city.

PARC with options on the walls

Parents from every high school in Burlington took part in a Review process. As a committee they were unable to arrive at a consensus as to which schools should be closed.

Parents at both Bateman high school and the Lester B. Pearson high school were upset over the decision. They felt the process used by the Board was unfair and that the process set out was not followed. They took advantage of the opportunity to ask for a Review of the process.

The Bateman and Pearson parents could not appeal the actual decision – just the process. The Facilitator of the Review could suggest to the Minister of Education that the PAR process be done a second time.

The province considered the request for a Review and appointed Margaret Wilson to do that Review of the decision the trustees had made.

Miller Diane addressing Wilson HDSB

Margaret Wilson listening to parents who believed the Program Administration Review was flawed.

She turned in her report early in January of this year said: “Based on my review and consultations, I conclude that, while there were violations of the Board PAR Policy, they were such that they had no material effect on either the deliberations of the PARC or on the final decisions of the Board.”

With that decision the HDSB could begin the process of closing two high schools and arranging for the transfer of students to new high schools.

Pearson was to close in June of 2018 and Bateman was to close at the end of the school year in 2019 – which was extended to 2020.

The Director of the HDSB began the process of putting transition programs in place – moving the Pearson high school students to M.M. Robinson and moving the Bateman students to new facilities that would be built at Nelson high school.

The Gazette has been told that it was when the Margaret Wilson report was made public that the HCDSB Director made the call to the Director of the HDSB asking if they could rent the Pearson high school building for a short period of time.

Exactly when that call was made is not yet certain. It would appear that there was a 90 day period during which there were conversations and the arriving at a rental rate had to be determined.

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Halton District School Board Director of Education speaking to parents at Central High School.

Stuart Miller, the Director of Education took the request to his Board of Trustees and in a closed session on May 2nd and explained to them the details of the request and what the HDSB was able to do.

A rental agreement was put together, the HCDSB approved it on May 1st and the HDSB approved it on May 2nd.

The decision was released to the public on May 3rd.

Parents and students who were going through the very emotionally difficult process of moving to a new school were not impressed with the decision and began to believe that the plan to close Pearson and let the Catholic school board use the building was always the plan.

That suspicion was fostered by the HDSB making the decision in a private session and then saying very little when the decision was made public.

The facts are that it was not until the Catholic school board knew that Pearson was going to be closed that they approached the HDSB to discuss a short term rental of the Lester B. Pearson building.

The HDSB just reacted to the request to lease the school.

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The Halton District School Board in session

They just didn’t involve the public nor prepare the parents for the decision that was going to be contentious.

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2 comments to There was nothing wrong with the decision the Public School Board made to rent Pearson high school to the Catholic Board. The problem was the way the public was informed.

  • Sharon

    If I was Pearson Grade 12 student that is exactly what I would be doing. Transferring to Assumption. Not the same name but at least the same school. One is better then nothing.

    I would still like to know why the decision was not made public until May 3rd? And why at the Board meeting on May 2nd it was evident that Andre Grenbec wanted the motion off the table quickly. Especially asking Richelle Papin “do you actually want to talk about this?”

  • Hans

    Students who attend Pearson may wish to switch to the Catholic board so that they can finish high school without transferring to another location..

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