Horwath responds to school closures

Says moving students out of core is disappointing, shortsighted

Video: HWDSB Chair Tim Simmons on why we left the core.

Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath responds to a letter from the Beasley Neighbourhood Association concerning school closures. (Sheryl Nadler/The Canadian Press)

Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath says the decision to close Hamilton high schools and move the education centre to the Mountain from downtown is "very disappointing and shortsighted."

She said although the decisions were made by the local school board,  trustees had little choice under the circumstances.

"The school board has to take some responsibility for the decisions that they're making, certainly the Liberal government has to take responsibility as well," Horwath said. "School boards have been forced to close schools."

The Ontario NDP leader spoke following the release of a letter from the Beasley Neighbourhood Association on Friday, asking her to speak up on the issue.

In its letter, the neighbourhood association said, "The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board twice turned their back on Hamilton's most vulnerable neighbourhoods, voting not only to close three high schools, but also to abandon the core by disbanding a taskforce looking to keep the HWDSB Headquarters here."

The association urged Horwath to challenge the board and the minister to reverse the decisions.

In an interview, association co-president Michael Borrelli said, "We're hoping that at the very least, she can bring this up at Queen's Park and hold the Education Minister's feet to the fire. This is her neighbourhood, it's her riding, it's where she's from."

Last month, trustees voted to close eight schools including Delta, Sir John A. Macdonald and Parkview high schools in the lower city. The board is also moving from Main Street West to its Crestwood site near Lime Ridge Mall.

"I don't think it (school closures) looks towards the future of Hamilton or larger civic issues. To create the Hamilton I want to see, we need to support the families that live in the core," explained association co-president Sylvia Nickerson.

Horwath agreed, saying, "You don't attract new families to a community if there's no school for their kids to go to. It's a short sighted policy which has serious implications for the viability of some of our inner city neighbourhoods."