The city and the public school board are close to reaching a formal agreement for a joint high school and recreation project in the Pan Am precinct.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and city staff are close to putting pen to paper to formalize the project, said Daniel Del Bianco, the board's senior facilities officer. The city has already written a letter in support.

"We have to move forward with the project sooner rather than later, so I'm hoping before too long we'll have a signed and executed agreement," Del Bianco said.

The new joint complex would include a high school for 1,250 students, which the board must open by September 2016 to comply with its provincial funding requirements for $31.8 million. The school will replace Delta, Sir John A. Macdonald and Parkview schools, which are scheduled to close. The city hopes its portion would include some sort of recreation facility for seniors.

The project will be located between Lottridge, Barton, King and Gage streets.

The board has hired MHPM Project Managers for the high school. It will issue a request for proposal for prime consultants by late May 2013, Del Bianco said.

It hasn't finalized a location yet, and is still looking at several sites, he added.

The city is eager to see the project move forward, said Coun. Bernie Morelli of Ward 3 last week. It is prepared to spend $15 million gathered through various sources on the project, which would "respond to the needs of that community," he said.

The school board is also negotiating potential land deals for its new school southeast of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway. That new 1,000-student school will also open in September 2016. It will replace Barton, Hill Park and Mountain schools, which are scheduled to close.

MHPM Project Managers is working on that project too.

The board will also do $15 million in renovations to Highland Secondary to accommodate students from Parkside Secondary, which is scheduled to close.

Facilities management staff have met with the transition committee and hired MHPM Project Managers for the project, Del Bianco told trustees. The board will select an architect in May and construction will begin in November.

The board is also renovating George R. Allan in the west end to accommodate students from Prince Philip, which is scheduled to close. Phase one of the renovations will go out to tender this month, with work beginning in June.

Dalewood school is also being renovated, with tender documents being prepared in June 2013 for the first phase of the work.

Fewer high school teachers needed

Trustees also heard Monday that as many as 36 high school teachers could lose their full-time permanent positions this year.

Because of declining enrolment, the board needs 41 fewer high school teachers than it did last year. And only five teachers are scheduled to retire, said Pat Rocco, superintendent of human resources.

Typically, high school teachers are offered occasional teacher positions and rehired as teachers when others retire, Rocco said.

Declining enrolment also means six fewer principals and vice principals and four fewer school clerical workers.

The board is hiring another 50 elementary teachers to address full-day kindergarten needs, said Denise Dawson, manager of budget services.