Supporters of Parkside Secondary have started to shift gears a little, and are looking for ways to make the transition to an amalgamated school in Dundas more palatable for students.
That's not to say the Parkside Works group isn't still pushing to keep Parkside open, says group member Bob James. “But now we're looking at how to make the best of what we've got here,” he said. So supporters met at a town hall meeting Friday night to hash out just that.
Back in January, the Ministry of Education granted the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board nearly $40 million for capital projects, including a new high school in the lower city.
'The school board has something to answer for. They've mismanaged.'—Bob James, Parkside Works
But the ministry is not funding a new high school on Governor's Road, which some had rallied for to replace Parkside and Highland schools. Instead, Parkside is set to close and Highland School is to receive around $15 million in renovations to accommodate students from both schools.
Some parents have been worried that Highland will receive only modest renovations, and students will end up getting taught in portables.
“Both schools need renovations and air work,” James said. “They've been pretty neglected for the last ten years or so.”
But as it does seem Parkside will be closing, steps are being taken to ease the transition for students. School teams for sports like football and basketball have started to amalgamate before the merger. For 2013 and 2014, students can actually take some classes at Parkside and some at Highland, with shuttle buses running back and forth.
“We have to make sure students get a decent experience,” James said.
James says Parkside Works' long term goal is still getting more money for a school in Dundas — but for now, accommodating students is a priority. Still, the Parkside closure has left a sour taste in his mouth.
“The school board has something to answer for. They've mismanaged,” he said.
“To have everything close here doesn't make sense to us. We're taxpayers too.”