Commentary

Schools Out

Two east end Hamilton high schools face extinction.

By Paul Vicari
Published March 04, 2011

The Secondary Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) North is deciding the fate of Hamilton's lower-city high schools.

As it stands, Delta at 1284 Main Street East and Parkview at 60 Balsam Avenue are slated to close in 2013. Students will be routed to Glendale, Orchard Park, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Winston Churchill.

Delta High School (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
Delta High School (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

The view from above is clearly dollars and cents; it's the logical decision to close schools with fewer students.

The view from down here, on the other hand, is this plain sucks!

Questions

Is this their way of saying, We give up on East Hamilton?

Is it dying? Isn't the elimination of institutional uses like schools damaging to communities?

Can east Hamilton residents spare the 'dollars and cents' to send their children to school on the other side of the city?

Will the aggravation of commuting to school (rather than walking) lead to higher dropout rates?

Does the scarcity of schools limit future demographic changes and rejuvenation of east Hamilton neighbourhoods?

Middle Ground

The battle has begun to save Delta and Parkview, but it might not be enough. If indeed enrolment is expected to drop in the coming years, maybe our only hope is to minimize the damage by closing one of schools and redistributing students to the other.

This may favour Delta, which, in addition to its architectural presence and distinction as Hamilton's oldest high school (1925), has more students than Parkview, so it makes sense to uproot fewer students.

This is unfair to Parkview, though, as it is a vocational school that teaches valuable trade skills to students.

The ARC is holding a public meeting on May 3 (location TBD). Once a location is announced, it will be posted in the RTH Events Calendar.

Paul Vicari lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a web developer in Toronto.

45 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 07:19:56

comment from banned user deleted

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 08:20:47

Dear. Another architectural gem cast aside by the school board.

Some years ago, the board cast off the former Princess Elizabeth School in West Hamilton; here's a Google Maps street view. It's a really pretty little school - prettier than almost any that the board has now - and it's slowly going to hell.

I would not mourn the closing of schools such as Delta and Princess Elizabeth and Dundas District if only our new schools weren't such ugly monuments to short-sighted bean-counting and faddish utilitarianism.

I was about to say "at least we're not so likely to pull such a building down as we once would have been", but wasn't the school board set to demolish the Stinson School?

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-03-04 08:22:39

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 08:50:03

C'mon Hammer Daddy's, read between the lines and connect a few dots!

Is this their way of saying, We give up on East Hamilton?

Is it dying? Isn't the elimination of institutional uses like schools damaging to communities?

Our communities are being gutted by many things other than the elimination of a few high schools. Communities die when their health and wealth are stripped away, therefore rejuvenation can only occur when health and wealth come back together and play.

Can east Hamilton residents spare the 'dollars and cents' to send their children to school on the other side of the city?

Terry Cooke once said, "I think we have a positive obligation both to acknowledge that reality and to use the lens of income integration and try to find ways to better mix the composition in our neighbourhoods and our schools."

"Any time you have a mixed grouping of students, there's a richness that emerges," said John Malloy, director of education for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. "The other piece that's really important -- and we hear this from our parents all the time -- is the importance of neighbourhood.

"So when it comes to a school board working on its own, it's hard to say this is how we might move toward a different kind of groupings in our schools because most of our parents want to send their child to the closest neighbourhood school."

Will the aggravation of commuting to school (rather than walking) lead to higher dropout rates?

"The Code Red series documents deep inequities within the city including a difference in life expectancy of as much as 21 years between the richest and poorest neighbourhoods, plus staggering school dropout rates and other poverty statistics one might expect to find in south-side Chicago or in Third World countries, Cooke said."

Does the scarcity of schools limit future demographic changes and rejuvenation of east Hamilton neighbourhoods?

No, the scarcity of health and wealth place limits the kind of change we all hope for. My East Hamilton neighborhood isn't doing bad and both of our children are recent Delta grads. I'm sure Harry Stinson could make something useful out of the old school if and when the doors are closed.

As an aside Paul, on a previous post I assumed you were a property developer by your brief bio at the time. I see this has been corrected and that you develop for the web. Sorry about that, but my challenge still stands: As you may know, this character "|" is a pipe and while plumbing may be my day job I follow a similar script at night. In either case $100 could fill quite a few pints!

To good health and wealth, Cheers

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-03-04 09:05:56

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 09:28:27

I know that it shouldn't be my priority... I know I should be mainly concerned about the well-being of the students that go to these schools and whether they'll do better in a more affluent school despite the lousy commute they'll be facing.

But all I can think about is the fate of that gorgeous old building. I have to say, 90% of the time I part company with RTA when it comes to saving buildings - most of the time the ship has already sailed and the building is rotted out, or the building is an artifact of the brutalist nadir of architectural history (like City Hall).

But I don't want to see Delta go.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 09:54:10 in reply to Comment 60697

I don't want to see Delta go

Neither do I but TPTB are continually rearranging our city. Unfortunately for you and me they are deaf, dumb and blind to our economic reality and how far we're getting behind.

Everything done in Hamilton is a band-aid type fix, what we need are old-fashioned leaders with some new brand-name hyped tricks.

BTW - I usually don't post when I'm supposed to be plumbing but I took the day off so I'm just sitting here thumbing in vain belief some solutions from RTH are forthcoming...

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-03-04 10:00:56

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Limbaugh (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 10:07:25

Building a new Ivor Wynne stadium is hardly giving up on the east end...

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 18:36:34 in reply to Comment 60699

The school board is not building IW.

Permalink | Context

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 10:36:43 in reply to Comment 60699

Half a new Ivor Wynne stadium, and I don't think the kids can go to school there. Oh and the community stadium they COULD play at, it's being demolished to make room for parking for 9 games a year, so much for the east end.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 11:17:55 in reply to Comment 60701

There is a brand spanking new school right next to Ivor Wynne so I don't like to hear any cranking which spites the east end. Let me buy you a few beers as a retainer for my ears since "Fixing Hamilton's problems is a no-brainer" you make perfectly clear.

Let's throw around some ideas together along with a couple stout Guinness, they just might flow out better and help us promote business.

Permalink | Context

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 10:30:04 in reply to Comment 60699

Building a new Ivor Wynne stadium is hardly giving up on the east end...

I agree absolutely! There is also a brand new sports bar right around the corner and they serve Guinness, my personal favourite...

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 18:38:21 in reply to Comment 60700

I'm sure when the board hears about the sports bar they'll change their mind.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By STeve (registered) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 11:48:09

This is horrible news for East Hamilton. One more reason for a family, or young couple thinking of starting one to look to locate elsewhere in the city.

Everyone who cares should be contacting Ward 3 Councillor Morelli and asking him to fight publically for the schools. In the 20006 & 2010 Election (yes, same promises in both elections because he's so popular he can just dial-in his campaign) he campaigned on fighting to maintain schools.

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/39...

  1. Fight to maintain and keep open our inner city schools and to recognize their key role as community centres.

Phone: 905-546-2702 Email: Bernie.Morelli@hamilton.ca

BTW: They are tearing down Sanford Avenue School, http://www.flickr.com/photos/metro_image...

Other places (Dundas, Murray, Stinson) they turn old schools into condos. In the east side they tear them down :(.

Permalink | Context

By Andrea (registered) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 13:58:03 in reply to Comment 60703

Delta is @ Main & Wexford; in Ward 4 - Sam Merulla's ward.

http://map.hamilton.ca/Static/PDFs/WardM...

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 11:52:20 in reply to Comment 60703

In the 2006 campaign, Morelli simultaneously promised to fight to keep community schools open, and also to fight intensification.

After giving that a minute to sink in, I contacted Morelli to ask how he was going to keep neighbourhood schools open without, you know, also getting enough people to live in those neighbourhoods to keep the schools populated.

I never heard back from him.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 11:52:26

This is all the result of Harris' ludicrous funding formula which refuses to allow cities to build new schools if they have "excess capacity", meaning essentially that if you want to build schools, you must first close schools.

Of course the question of which school closes is largely decided by which neighbourhoods have the most influence and clout - ie: the wealthier ones. Westdale, Westmount, Waterdown, Ancater - we will see little risk to these schools. But for those in rough neighbourhoods (and with correspondingly low test scores) will have little defense. And as I mentioned recently, this only furthers disparities between areas.

Anybody know what's happening with Sherwood? Last I heard it was also on the list. Reminding us that living on the mountain doesn't exempt ya from these threats.

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 13:39:10 in reply to Comment 60705

It's not a matter of being in wealthier areas. The schools you mention are all full or over capacity. Thats why they were excluded.

Other schools in better off areas are on the chopping block. Sherwood that you mentioned is one of them. The other 2 that they mentioned were Barton and McNab.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2011 at 06:40:57 in reply to Comment 60735

It's not a matter of being in wealthier areas. The schools you mention are all full or over capacity.

The two are connected: older schools in affluent neighbourhoods are over capacity because those neighbourhoods are attracting lots of families; whereas older schools in poor urban neighbourhoods are under capacity and slated for closure.

It's easy to point fingers at the HWDSB, but if we want these facilities to remain open, we need to present a credible plan to attract enough people into their catchment neighbourhoods to keep the schools viable in terms of enrollment.

I look at my own neighbourhood in the southwest lower city and note that in the 1970s and '80s, it was in the same downward spiral of disinvestment as the east end neighbourhoods. For a variety of reasons, that spiral started to reverse in the '80s and '90s and the neighbourhood once again became a desirable place for families to live.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 13:42:03 in reply to Comment 60770

True, but it's a chicken and egg thing. In the 70's and 80's there wasn't as much pressure on the boards to close under-capacity schools in older neighbourhoods in order to fund new schools on the fringes, so the schools in your neighbourhood were allowed to remain open, which in turn helped to attract families.

Also, it would be interesting to know what kind of funding formula was in place back then. I believe someone commented that the current funding formula that calls for schools to eliminate extra capacity in order to qualify for funds for new construction, was introduced by the Harris Tories.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2011 at 13:48:59 in reply to Comment 60782

Absolutely. The Funding Formula is still broken. The Liberals seem to have forgotten their own realization some years ago that schools are supposed to be hubs for community activity and not just student processing factories.

Permalink | Context

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 14:04:02 in reply to Comment 60784

>> The Funding Formula is still broken.

You're right, we should give parents the money (education vouchers) and let them decide where they want their children educated.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2011 at 14:04:07 in reply to Comment 60705

My wife teaches at Westmount and most of the people there want the school to be closed and rebuilt elsewhere. The building is horribly under-maintained, over-capacity, and is located far from the main bus arteries (which is particularly absurd since it's supposed to be a city-wide System School instead of just serving the regional kids). The board keeps putting off doing any maintenance on it because they plan on moving the program to a new school and then ditching the building... but no such new school exists.

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 13:19:10 in reply to Comment 60718

Small correction, it's only 2 blocks from Mohawk Rd. They have easy access to bus service. I know, I went there back in the 70's and used to take the bus everyday to get there.

Permalink | Context

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2011 at 12:10:00 in reply to Comment 60718

I went to Westdale...and it was pretty ghetto in terms of the building itself, and supplies we had (books, ancient computers etc). The term "demolish and rebuild" was definitely thrown around in hushed voices. It may be a very rich school, but it's still "inner city" as these things go. A distinction which seems to be creeping outward every day.

Still, I can't imagine seeing what's now threatening Delta or Parkview befalling either Westdale or Westmount.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2011 at 15:14:33 in reply to Comment 60730

Really? I went to Westdale and I always loved the building. I mean the windows and lockers needed work (like most of the schools in the system), but back then they built to last.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-03-07 15:14:45

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 15:26:02 in reply to Comment 60787

And they've since replaced all the windows.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By hammertime (registered) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 15:28:13

Maybe the board better start looking after Westmount, it isn't that old. In fact I remember when it was built and I believe it still has an indoor swimming pool. Something most schools do not have..

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 13:16:18 in reply to Comment 60719

They are currently rebuilding the pool with federal infrastructure money. If they need a new school they could very easily rebuild on that site. It is a huge property.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 16:21:26

This is upsetting. It is quite possible that the school with the least resistance will get the axe. I would hate to see Delta chopped. Residents should contact their trustee...

http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/aboutus/trustees/rmulholland/index.aspx

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Peter (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 00:08:02

Good luck getting a teaching job in Hamilton. I've lost track of all the schools slated for closure; yet another reason for young professionals to look elsewhere for employment.

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 13:21:58 in reply to Comment 60725

They are closing the old schools so they can build new ones. They won't be losing any teachers.

Unfortunately, because of provincial funding formula's thats what they have to do to build new schools in areas where the population has shifted to.

Permalink | Context

By Peter (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 01:20:21 in reply to Comment 60733

Not in all cases. For example, Parkside's closing and students/teachers will be relocated to either Highland, Waterdown, Ancaster or Westdale. Also, Mountain, Sherwood, Barton, Delta and Parkview are all slated for closure and as far as I can tell, the board is planning to build only one school, somewhere south of the LINC [big surprise there]. In the end, fewer schools means fewer jobs, which is, as I already stated, yet another reason for young professionals not to plant roots here.

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 17:56:51 in reply to Comment 60739

They may be closing more than one school but those kids will be relocated somewhere. If they move the kids they will still need teachers to educate them. They have limits on class sizes. The schools that they move those kids to will need more teachers.

The way it works is they base the number of teachers needed on how many students attend each school. The empty schools or under capacity schools only have as many teachers as are required, based on whatever formula they use.

Comment edited by bigguy1231 on 2011-03-06 17:59:05

Permalink | Context

By Franca Lingua (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2011 at 16:50:50 in reply to Comment 60761

The only way that school boards could rationalize making do with fewer teachers is if they were willing to let class sizes increase. And that would obviously never happen.

Permalink | Context

By Peter (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 21:35:02 in reply to Comment 60761

You're right, teachers and students will find their way to other schools one way or another. But in terms of new teachers, or those wishing to relocate, they can forget about it. There's zero demand for new Secondary School teachers in Hamilton and it's been that way for years. That's what I've been yammering on about.

Comment edited by Peter on 2011-03-06 21:38:50

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Tnt (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 01:18:00

Funny I don't notice any Catholic schools on the chopping block.

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 13:32:25 in reply to Comment 60726

Thats because most Catholic schools are much newer. They did not receive full funding from the province until the late 80's. Once they got that funding they went on a building spree. As a result most of their new schools were built in growing areas of the city.

They have also rebuilt some schools in the lower city, Cathedral High School is one that comes to mind. It was located on Main St. in 2 different buildings at one time before it was moved to it current location.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 11:23:08 in reply to Comment 60726

A number of Catholic schools have closed.

Permalink | Context

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 18:03:26 in reply to Comment 60729

Considering, the Catholic board is for the most part at or over capacity they really don't have a need to close schools. But they have closed a few over the years, usually for maintainance reasons.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 14:06:36

good thing there are no plans for LRT, intensification and a nodes&corridors plan along Main/Queenston in East Hamilton.
Once again, the school board is on their own planet....

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By hammertime (registered) | Posted March 05, 2011 at 16:31:41

The school boards in Ontario have always been on their own little planet with their own agendas. Sad if you ask me..

Permalink | Context

By Peter (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 01:22:41 in reply to Comment 60737

Not only Ontario, all over the country...hell, all of N America in fact!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Steve (registered) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 17:06:59

re: Catholic School Closures. St. Columba a Catholic School in the Main & Sherman area was slated to close in June 2010. It apparently won a reprieve for a couple of years, but is still on a closure list.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 06, 2011 at 17:19:12 in reply to Comment 60756

Off the top of my head, there's Christ the King and St. Mary's. I'm sure there are others, and of course many being eyed for closure.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted March 08, 2011 at 07:19:12

Back up the Chevy for a midnight move c'mon little girl you're gonna have a new school...

Steve Sinnicks Thursday's, 8-11pm at Buckeye's Smokehouse, 224 Ottawa Street North (next to Limoncello in the Delta Secondary catchment). So, if you see me there say hello and state your business, I'll be happy to buy you a Guinness.!

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-03-08 07:25:57

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Hamilton Grandma (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2011 at 22:44:43

Maybe the Catholic board could buy Delta.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds