Hamilton school closure delayed over ministry funding
Delay in provincial decision could also impact high school closures
Hamilton's public school board still hasn't heard from the province regarding how much money it will get for new schools, and the wait has delayed at least one school closure.
Prince Philip Elementary School was scheduled to close in June 2013, but that closure will now be delayed, said Ken Bain, associate director of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
The board is still determining how long it can wait before the closure of eight local high schools is delayed as well.
"That's a question we're trying to come to terms with ourselves," Bain said. "If for some unknown reason we don't hear for an awfully long time, who knows what the impact will be. Certainly what I can confirm is that Prince Philip won't close in June 2013."
The board has asked the Ministry of Education for more than $87 million to fund a list of capital projects. That's nearly a quarter of the $350 million that the ministry has allocated for the whole province.
According to a report presented to trustees when they voted on May 29, the board is asking for $31,374,375 for a new 1,250-student high school in the lower city. This school would replace Delta, Sir John A. Macdonald and Parkview, which are slated for closure in June 2015.
The board has also asked for $25,466,000 for a new 1,000-student high school on the mountain, which would replace Hill Park, Mountain and Barton high schools, which also have a June 2015 closure date.
The third priority is money for a new Dundas high school, which would replace Parkside and Highland high schools, which are also scheduled to close in June 2015. Margaret Wilson, a ministry-appointed facilitator, is studying that closure decision. She is compiling her final report and will present it to the ministry "in the coming weeks," ministry spokesperson Andrew Morrison said. Wilson can examine but not overturn the decision.
The board is also asking for $5,839,591 for improvements to Dalewood and George R. Allan in light of the planned Prince Philip closure.
If the ministry doesn't grant all the board's funding requests, then the board will look in its own budget for possibilities, Bain said.
Prince Philip supporters are looking at this as an opportunity to lobby the board to keep the school open for good. Craig Burley, a Prince Philip parent and member of the group We Need Three, says the group is still deciding what form the lobbying will take.
"Our view is that since the board needs to reopen the decision that it made, that means revisiting the whole decision," he said.
School boards across the province submitted a combined $3 billion in capital funding requests for 350 projects to the ministry, Morrison said. The ministry hopes to have made a decision by the end of the year.
"All submissions will be evaluated using a range of criteria (such as urgency of the need) to determine how the funding will be distributed amongst boards," he said in an email. "Projects that address significant accommodation pressures are a high priority for the ministry."