It's been a year that included decisions to close eight high schools, a controversial move out of the downtown core and now teacher job action. And Tim Simmons will do it all again as chair of Hamilton's public school board.

The business owner and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustee was acclaimed to continue his role as chair at the board's initial meeting for 2013 on Monday.

Simmons and the board took heat this year for a number of decisions. One involved disbanding a task force formulating a plan to locate the board's Education Centre at the former Canon Knitting Mills property in Beasley, a decision Simmons voted against.

But his ability to speak for the board rather than himself is what makes him a good chair, said trustee Wes Hicks when he nominated Simmons.

When speaking publicly, "he represents trustees and not necessarily his viewpoints."

Simmons was acclaimed on the same day local public high school teachers started job action. Elementary teachers are also without an agreement.

That's front of mind for everyone, said Simmons, who represents Ward 3 from Wellington to Ottawa Street. The board would still like to reach negotiated settlements.

"Our doors are always open and we hope that things can settle down in the near future," he said.

Other challenges:

  • The board is still waiting to hear from the Ministry of Education regarding its funding request to build three new high schools, among other capital projects.
  • The board is building a new $31.6-million education centre at its Crestwood location at 50 Millwood Pl.

Pat Daly, chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, addressed the board. He spoke of the need for two school systems, and for those systems to work together.

"Children in Hamilton are better off with two school systems," Daly said, citing each board's "unique mission."

"Now more than ever, we need for school boards to work together, particularly on a co-terminus basis."

Trustee Robert Barlow was elected for another year as vice-chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

The Catholic board will have its initial meeting of 2013 on Tuesday.