Demonstrators will protest local high school closures in front of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board this afternoon.

A local group calling itself SOS (Save Our Schools) Hamilton will gather in front of the board's Education Centre at 100 Main St. W. at 5 p.m. It will protest the board's recent decision to close eight high schools and potentially build three new ones.

The goal is to bring together everyone worried about the board's decision, organizer Matt Jelly said. He expects about 200 people holding signs and voicing their concerns.

"More than anything, we want to introduce the issue of school closures to a wider audience," he said.

The protest is timed to coincide with the board's farewell open house for the Education Centre building, which is expected to be demolished this summer.

Schools scheduled to close:

  • Delta
  • Sir John A. Macdonald
  • Parkview
  • Parkside
  • Highland
  • Barton
  • Hill Park
  • Mountain

Jelly doesn't want to disrupt that event, but "I thought it would be a good day to have people come down," he said.

In May, the board voted to close Delta, Sir John A. Macdonald and Parkview schools and replace them with one new high school in the lower city.

It also voted to close Parkside and Highland in Dundas and build a new school on the Highland site.

It will also close Mountain, Barton and Hill Park and replace them with one new high school southeast of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

Even people without children should care about that, Jelly said.

"Schools are the centres of our neighbourhoods, as parkland and as community centres," he said. "They're important for Hamilton's long-term viability."

People have a right to voice their concerns, board spokesman Jackie Penman said.

"We understand that school closings are difficult for the community."

The Education Centre is slated for demolition. The board will move its temporary offices in July and eventually a new building at its Crestwood site on the Mountain.

McMaster University is purchasing the current property for its new $85-million McMaster Downtown Health Campus, and will potentially sever the land for additional uses.

Board officials will open a time capsule laid under the building's cornerstone in 1966 tonight, Penman said.

"We're inviting everyone who wants to come to the building and see it and participate in the opening of the time capsule."

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Here's a video Jelly made to promote the demonstration:

S.O.S. HAMILTON: PROTEST THIS TUESDAY #HamOnt from Matt Jelly on Vimeo.