Trustee Collard gives the Director of Education a very rough ride - promises more of the same when they meet next.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 18th, 2017



With two evenings of delegations behind them the 11 trustees began their own deliberations and Amy Collard headed straight for the recommendations that were put forward by Stuart Miller, Director of Education who was a bit taken aback – he thought he was there to defend his report and here was a trustee wanting to change it before the meeting had hardly started.

Collard and Miller

Trustee Amy Collard was not happy – Director of Education Stuart Miller was not all that interested in answering her first barrage of questions – he anted to defend his report. If looks could kill!

It was that kind of a night – one that began at 7:00 pm and adjourned at 11:15 after agreeing that it wasn’t going to be an adjournment but rather a recess until May 24th.

Trustee Danielli had had more than enough, Collard said she could go until 6:00 am if she had to.
There was a point in this process where the recommendation the Director put forward to close Bateman and Pearson high schools had momentum; that is no longer the case.

That doesn’t mean what Miller recommended is lost – but these trustees are asking some hard questions and they want answers.

Wednesday evening they did engage the six delegations that were heard and they had a lot of questions.

One point that was made clearer – a decision to close a school does not mean that it gets sold. In order to sell a school there has to be a vote to declare it surplus – then it can be sold. While Miller didn’t spend a lot of time on that point he did say that Boards have been known to keep a school closed but as part of the asset inventory.
That might be the angle the trustees decide they can live with.

Steve Armstrong + Cheryl deLught - Pearson

Pearson PARC members Cheryl DeLught and Steve Armstrong were not on the demonstration line but they were very much in the public gallery Wednesday night. Armstrong has not given up on saving Pearson.

Trustee Danielli asked Planning Manager Dom Renzella about the recently released 2016 Statics Canada numbers and he said that the Board doesn’t pay much attention to that data because it is a look at what has taken place – his concern was what was going to take place.

Later in the evening Renzella used Statistics Canada to support a decision made.

The trustees are finding the going quite heavy but they are clearly in for the long hall and are going to make a decision based on what they heard from the delegations and how the Director and his team of Superintendents answers the questions.

Early in this process – back in October, Bateman was a school that was not being considered for closure. That changed and the public began to see and hear the Bateman story that was unknown to most people except those directly involved.

Their was concern about how any transition might take place if the Bateman high school was closed. The trustees were told that the Board has gotten very good at transitioning students and they would do an even better job if they had to move vulnerable people from Bateman to Nelson.

This decision on school closing is far from a slam dunk – it is still very fluid.

Bateman parentsThere was a rally outside the Board offices – bigger this time than anything else before it – maybe it was the warmer weather. This time it was just the Bateman parents; the Central parents won their case and they are staying right off the radar screen.

PARC member Marianne Meed Ward, also city council member for ward 2 put in an appearance.

Much more to report on.

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12 comments to Trustee Collard gives the Director of Education a very rough ride – promises more of the same when they meet next.

  • Stephen White

    If Board officials approved the creation of Hayden High School (as previous writings from Tom Muir have strongly suggested), and they are now looking at closing Bateman and Pearson High Schools, this is truly damning. No one with any degree of practicality, business smarts or common sense should ever have advocated building a brand new school and spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money when there were potentially two schools that would be adversely impacted elsewhere. The only caveat for building a new school would have been if an existing school were in such a serious state of disrepair that upgrading it was financially unrealistic which, clearly, is not the case here.

    The fact that the target for closure has shifted from Central to Bateman and Pearson indicates not only behind-the-scenes political influence but also indicates that the business case for closure is neither solid nor based on a sound business rationale.

    • Tom Muir


      My evidence is proof that the Board approved Hayden, not just suggestive.

      I have written extensively about this here and sent all the evidence to the Board and Trustees. Despite this irrefutable evidence there is still no admission of this by anyone at the Board.

      If you want what I have, I can send it to you if I get your email. Maybe through Pepper to me, then not here.

      I of course agree with your damning comment. I found out about this back in October of 2016, and because it was being covered up, is the reason I have persisted in investigation and writing about it. There is no transparency or integrity at the Board on this matter.

      There was no rationale, business or pupil place needs, or anything else. It was knowingly planned to be the way it has turned out, with data that shows this, and the Board just went with it, with the October 15, 2008 approval of the Capital Plan, by all but two Trustees (P. Russel and M. Dilly) dissenting

      A November 18 2009 resolution of approval from the Trustees to conform with a Ministry requirement that PODs be included as part of the financing, is reported As Carried. I have all this evidence.

      Subsequent Boards, Staff, Directors, and Trustees have all carried this forward knowing and approving each step required in the process to construction.

      There was no acknowledgement of the consequences built into the plan they kept approving and moving forward by anyone in these groups.

      It could have been cancelled or deferred at any time prior to legal contractual commitments.

  • Peter Menet

    You implied that there was behind-the-scene political influence. Having attended six of the seven PARC meetings I can assure you that no one has influenced the Director of Education, Mr. Miller, behind-the-scenes. Mr. Miller is a very approachable man, but he is not for turning.
    The present trustees were elected in 2012. It was the trustees elected in 2008, and two Director’s ago, that made the decision to build Hayden. i understand that only one trustee from 2008 is on the current board. If wrong then please correct me. The blame for Hayden is not with the current trustees.
    During the PARC process a considerable amount of data used to develop the original recommendation was found to be faulty. New data was presented and new conclusions were drawn. The members of the PARC committee fulfilled the mandate given to them. The PARC committee could not reach a consensus and sent five options to the Director. From those five options the option 23d formed the basis for his final recommendation.
    Your last comment is taken from the viewpoint that education is a business. The education of our children is not a business. There are many instances where money is not spent equally amongst our children but instead is spent equitably. We should be very pleased that this is the case and not like that found in many jurisdictions south of the border.

    Peter Menet

  • Tom Muir


    I’m thinking that the present Trustees were elected in 2014. Next election is 2018.

    If so, and if terms are 4 years (they changed from 3 but I’m not sure when), then the two previous elections were 2010, and 2006, so terms were 2006-2010 and 2010-2014.

    The evidence I have on this matter indicates that both of these groups of trustees, at least, were involved in the decision making and approvals, even though the application was started in 2009, and this Growth School Application, Capital Priorities Template, clearly indicated in data, the implications of building Hayden.

    But this was just the start, and the complicity goes on for several more years and boards of trustees.

    While only one from the 2006-2010 term is still a trustee today, I believe, and have been told, there are several trustees from the 2010-2014 term still on the Board today.

    All of these previously serving trustees were involved in decisions and approvals made in the process of planning and building Hayden.

    I have evidence of needed approvals and trustee information knowledge into mid-2011, when the Board’s request to proceed with construction was submitted to the Ministry.

    Subsequent to that time, every LTAP, each of which has to be approved by the trustees, indicates progress reports, and shows how the opening of Hayden would drain the other schools, and what the enrollments and utilization would be before and after.

    All of these LTAPs clearly spell out the implications for the other schools that were first published publicly in 2008-2009.

    The boundary review study was what was done to fill Hayden, and that was done in the 2010-2014 term, and would require trustee knowledge, decisions, and approvals.

    So there is a lot of blame for this mess and injustice to go around. Some of those directly to blame are still on the Board.

    I would also say that from what I was told, the PARC was given options that all involved closures and with only one non-closure, right from the start. The push from the Board staff and the Director was always to close 2 schools. The PARC, put into an Arena to fight it out, never had much of a chance for consensus.

    In my opinion, this was just another part of the same plan that was started with, to get schools closed as a predetermined target outcome.

    And yes, I agree, this is not business, but the administrators are counting comparative pennies, and targeting a bottom line reduction of surplus seats that they themselves created on purpose as a strategy.

    The children are just widgets, counted as pupil places, or surplus seats, to be moved around into Mega schools at the will of the Board, that denies any wrong, rationalizes what they want to do as harmless, and projects the fault for it all onto the schools, parents, and residents.

    • Peter Menet

      Thank you for the correction. The current board was elected in 2014. All my dates are off by two years.
      Peter Menet

  • Peggy Russell

    Mr. Menet, there was 1 Trustee in 2008 who did not vote for Hayden to be built and also asked for a recorded vote on the motion to build Hayden, myself.

    At the time the discussion and the advocacy I did regarding the Hayden build based on the HDSB Capital Plan projections did not make any sense to myself and I knew that it would put other existing secondary schools in Burlington at risk in the future, but alas my pleas and arguments fell on deaf ears.

    Unfortunately there were a number of individuals from the Hayden community who advocated very hard to have Hayden built and their Trustee at the time worked with the Director, the City, the parent community and other Trustees to get the build done.

    My deision to speak out against the build cost myself the run after I retired in 2010 as a Trustee, for Ward 5 City Council seat, as many individuals in that Community remained to be angry with myself for not voting for the Hayden build and actually went door to door in their Community advising their neighbors not to vote for me for a City seat based on my vote regarding Hayden.

    I am not upset about this, as this is Politics afterall and my concious would not allow me to stoop to others level, but it is important that the Public understand just how many individuals workled to get Hayden built, the pressure they put their Trustee under at that time to get the school built, irregardless of the outsomes down the road.

    I am sure if you dig deeper you can figure out who all those players were and this story might become even more intriguing to the Public.

    Peggy Russell
    Retired HDSB Trustee, former Vice-Chair of the Board
    Ontario Public School Boards representative for 6 years and OPSBA Policy Work Team for 7 years

  • Mark d

    The bottom line Hayden high school never needed to be built and there were legal documents in 2009 stating that the Ministry of education would fund for the building of that new school with future sale of land. The bottom line Hayden high school never needed to be built and there were legal documents in 2009 stating that the Ministry of education would fund for the building of that new school with future sale of land I guess that would be Lester B Pearson High School, Robert Bateman high school. Why have all the six remaining schools been penalized because of the building of Hayden. This is pure corruption, or incompetence. You decide which one of the two

  • Peggy Russell

    Mark d, I agree Hayden should not have been built, look too who benefited from this build and who is now attempting to deflect onto others, so their role in the Hayden build will not be revealed.

    Seriously, I am not going to state who in a Public Forum, but I ask you all to do your homework and dig a little deeper and not let them get away with their attempt at deflection or their attempt to put the blame on someone else, especially staff.

    Peggy Russell
    Retired HDSB Trustee and former Vice-Chair of the HDSB

    • Tom Muir


      Thanks for chiming in and providing your eye witness account.

      However, you also muddied the waters that I’m seeing through, as your suggestion that we look for who benefited, and their attempts to deflect on others to hide their role, baffles me with its too much generality.

      I don’t think you exonerate staff or anyone with this, as they have been driving this bus without much visible fiduciary duty or professional ethics. They have politicized themselves with their silence.

      Director Miller told me in a February telcon, that he requested, that he wouldn’t get into the Hayden matter because it is too political for him.

      Can you please provide more resolution, or some focus, so the homework can have some practical direction?

      As you have left it, one is left with hands waving.

  • Peggy Russell

    Dear Tom,

    I would point you to the community of Hayden, look at past parent representatives from that time period, who would have been involved in advocating for a school build there and then connect the dots, no I will not play into this any longer either and will not do others peoples research for them and will not leave myself liable in any way, so really it is up to the community of Burlington to connect the dots and figure it out, it really is not that difficult.

    I am retired and that is for a reason, I spent over 20 years as a an active Community advocate for children and 10 of those years as a Trustee, that cost me more to do the job than I was paid to do it, I spent thousands on legals,fighting Trustees and Board staff to do the right things for children, gave up most of my vacation time every year from my day job to do the job of Trustee and served my Community responsibly, not anymore, sorry my friend it is not difficult to look around the Board table and figure out who played what role when.

    I will leave it at that and wish you all the best.

    Peggy Russell

    • Tom Muir


      Somehow I missed this post of yours despite looking through things every day.

      The parents then were just organized and lobbying, but where they got the idea a school was warranted on the basis of Ministry defined “need” of too many students for existing capacity, I don’t know.

      The determination of need for the construction of new pupil places in Ontario is based on the relationship between enrollments and the number of current and projected pupil places, using the enrollment/Ministry Rated Capacity Ratio as the starting basis – for example 90%.

      It is very clear from the data sent to the Ministry, and that I had to submit a Freedom of Information request to get, that this criteria of need, based on enrollment trends and expected utilization was not met in Burlington for Hayden.

      Nonetheless, the extra capacity got built, and this had to be done by manipulation by successive Boards, Directors, Trustees, and assorted others.

      Some of those responsible are still involved in the current mess, but not all, and muckraking to name all is, as you imply, a fool’s errand.

      Even now, there is no transparency and no accountability for this dishonest use of public resources in this continuing manner.

      Closing two schools in Burlington to cover up for this unjustified build just makes this behavior even more outrageous

      You are right, it really isn’t all that difficult to connect the dots if you can identify and follow them.

  • Jeremy Skinner

    I reached out to Gail Gortmaker at HDSB seeking information as to follow-on meeting to that which was held on May 17th in Pepper’s article above.

    Her response was: “The Board chose to ‘recess’ rather than adjourn the May 17 meeting. That’s why it’s still the current meeting” [on the website]. “When they resume (after the ‘recess’) tomorrow night at 6 p.m., it will be a continuation of the May 17 meeting, picking up from the point in the agenda where they left off. It will be livestreamed (as our Board meetings are) — available through our website.”

    I hope you will join me to witness this meeting to be held in the Boardroom located at the J.W. Singleton Centre, 2050 Guelph Line, Burlington.