Local school board chairs expect to hear in the next few months whether Hamilton's boards will be included in a provincial push to amalgamate.
Patrick Daly, chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, and Tim Simmons, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board chair, were in a conference call with the Ministry of Education Tuesday afternoon.
The call confirmed that the ministry expects some school boards to amalgamate. But which ones likely won't be known until January, Simmons said.
“It's concerning,” he said. “My concern would be around job losses on the administrative side of things.
“My experience with amalgamation in the City of Hamilton is that it was many years before we saw any cost savings.”
Hamilton's public board is already the eighth largest in the province, serving more than 47,000 students. The Catholic board has 29,766 students.
“I'd be interested in knowing what the ministry thinks the size of a school board should be,” Simmons said.
Daly hopes Hamilton's Catholic board won't be touched.
In Tuesday's conference call, “there was nothing to suggest we'd be part of any amalgamation,” he said. “I would be surprised if we were.”
Daly agrees there would “little to no savings” in amalgamating boards.
“But we expect to hear much more over the coming months.”
Schools boards were last restructured 15 years ago, ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler said. There are 72 school boards in Ontario.
“We are asking boards to work with us over the next year to find savings while protecting small class sizes, full-day kindergarten and almost 20,000 teaching and support staff jobs,” he said.
“It is too early to tell which boards, or how many, will be amalgamated.”
Public and Catholic boards will not be merged, the province said in a news release this week.
There are 72 school boards across Ontario. Since 2003, enrolment in Ontario has declined by 128,000 students, the ministry said.