Board looks at closing 11 schools despite calls for moratorium

Hamilton public school board trustees will look at closing 11 elementary schools next week and replacing them with three others amid a chorus of voices asking for them to stop.

City councillors are asking the province to impose a moratorium on school closures

Millgrove Elementary School is among those trustees will discuss closing next week. The local public school board is getting a staff report that recommends closing 11 elementary schools and building three new ones. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Hamilton public school board trustees will look at closing 11 elementary schools next week and replacing them with three others amid a chorus of voices asking for them to stop.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will get a trio of staff reports on east Hamilton, west Flamborough and central Mountain on Monday. They recommend closing schools from Millgrove to Rosedale. The board also plans to close Bell Stone in west Glanbrook and sending its students to Mount Hope.

The board should stop, said Monique Taylor, NDP MPP for Hamilton Mountain, in a media release Thursday.

“The school board wisely put off decisions on school closures in some parts of the city,” Taylor said. “Today, I’m calling on the province to direct the school board to do the same thing in the remaining areas.”

Taylor isn’t the only politician who has weighed in to the issue this week. On Wednesday, city councillors unanimously voted to ask the premier to order a moratorium on school closures.

“In speaking with a number of parents not only in the east but throughout the city, there are announcements forthcoming that will be staggering in impacting neighbourhoods throughout the city,” said Coun. Sam Merulla of Ward 4.

“There’s not going to be one part of this city — rural to urban — that’s not going to be impacted by the decisions forthcoming.”

Board meetings for public delegations

West Glanbrook: April 7

West Flamborough: April 29

East Hamilton: May 5

Central Mountain: May 6 

Accommodation review committees in all four areas have made recommendations. Board staff will present their reports to the board at a special board meeting on Monday. The community then has 60 days to give feedback before trustees make a final decision. Public delegations are scheduled for April and May.

Taylor wants the provincial per-student funding formula changed to put more emphasis on schools as community hubs. She’d like to see them house various other programs, such as recreation, health and social services.

“Our neighbourhoods are threatened by school closures but we can find creative solutions to save them,” she said. “The government needs to give us the time and space to do that.”

Jessica Brennan, school board chair, has no issue with the idea of a provincially mandated moratorium on closures.

“I certainly agree with the idea of stopping and breathing around school closures,” she said. She cites a December motion where the board voted to take a break from next year’s scheduled accommodation students.

School board special board meeting

Monday, March 24

7:30 p.m.

Hamilton city hall council chambers, 71 Main St. W.

Accommodation review committees consider a school’s value to a community as part of their decision, she said.

The province should listen to the city, said Coun. Brad Clark of Stoney Creek at Wednesday’s meeting.

“If they do dismiss this without looking at it, they’re doing it at their own peril.”

Millgrove school in Flamborough is dear to the community and would mean young children spending a lot more time on buses, said Coun. Judi Partridge of Ward 15.

Millgrove residents “literally don’t know what’s hit them,” she said.

After the city sends its letter, she said, it’s important to follow up with lobbying efforts.

The board staff reports will come to a special board meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Hamilton city hall council chambers.

Trustees will also look at whether to name a new high school southeast of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway after Chris Hadfield, Nelson Mandela or Norah Henderson.

Staff recommendations:

Central Mountain: Eastmount Park, Linden Park and Cardinal Heights to close in June 2015.  Additions would be built on Pauline Johnson, Ridgemount and Queensdale.

West Flamborough: Dr. Seaton, Greensville and Millgrove to close in June 2016. Beverly Central and Spencer Valley will be replaced or expanded.

East Hamilton: Parkdale, Roxborough Park and Woodward to close in June 2015, and Rosedale in June 2016. Viscount Montgomery will be replaced, or additions made to Viscount Montgomery, Hillcrest and WH Ballard.

West Glanbrook: Close Bell Stone this year and send the students to Mount Hope.


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