Province agrees to study Dundas school closure decision
The Ministry of Education is appointing a facilitator to study the decision to close Parkside Secondary School in Dundas.
In a letter Monday afternoon, assistant deputy minister Gabriel F. Sékaly told Parkside supporters that a facilitator will be appointed as soon as possible.
The facilitator will review the process the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board used to arrive at the decision to close the high school.
Bob James, one of the Dundas residents who compiled the appeal, was pleased.
"This is a significant hurdle," he said. "This is good news."
Parkside was among eight high schools trustees voted in May to close. The appeal was limited to commenting on the board's process.
The Parkside appeal focused on the guidelines the board used to review the school, the information profile it used and the rate at which trustees received information.
Of particular interest, the group said, was a business case they put forward for keeping the school open, which they argue trustees didn't receive quickly enough.
In a response to the ministry, the board defended its process, saying the information was distributed "very early in the West accommodation review process."
A group of parents objecting to the decision to close Hill Park, Barton and Mountain also filed an appeal.
Late Monday afternoon, the ministry declined that request, public school board chair Tim Simmons said.
The decision to appoint a facilitator for Parkside is not a surprise, nor is it unusual, he said. Rather, it's "part of the process.
"When a school board makes this many decisions around its schools, we're bound to get some reviews."
The board is happy to co-operate with the ministry, and "if they need any additional information, we'll give it to them," he said.
"We look forward to co-operating with the facilitator and assisting them in any way we can so they can complete their work in a reasonable amount of time."
Supporters of a west-end elementary school, Prince Philip, also requested that the Ministry of Education appoint a facilitator. The ministry turned down the request in late July.
Even with a facilitator appointed, the ministry has no legislative mandate to overturn the board's decision regarding a school closure, Sékaly wrote in his letter.
But as for a facilitator, "the selection process is underway and the successful candidate will be appointed as soon as possible," he said in the letter.
Parkside is scheduled to close in June 2015. The board has also voted to close Highland, Delta, Parkview and Sir John A. Macdonald. It hopes to build three new high schools — one on the mountain, one in the lower city and one in the west end.