Special Report: Education

School Board Mistakes Assets for Liabilities

With any sort of serious effort to add additional revenue streams, the Board could very easily augment fluctuating enrollment and excess capacity by leasing and renting out access to its assets.

By John-Paul Danko
Published October 25, 2013

this article has been updated

As someone who owns several businesses, I have been struggling to understand how the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) can be so casual about closing and then immediately and permanently disposing of its schools.

The only explanation that I can fit to this bizarre, self-destructive course of action is that the Board actually considers its schools to be liabilities and not assets.

Queensdale School: a liability?
Queensdale School: a liability?

Schools from a Business Perspective

For a moment, let's think about schools from a business perspective. Say you own a large commercial property. You don't have a mortgage and for some amazing reason, you don't even pay property tax. All that you have to do is pay for is regular maintenance.

(You also have a huge, bloated and expensive management structure costing you a fortune in overhead, but we'll get to that in a moment.)

Further, because of some brilliant foresight by your business' founders nearly 100 years ago, your property also happens to be in a fabulous location, surrounded by potential clients.

Can you think of anyone that could screw up a business opportunity like that? It's practically a foolproof situation - but apparently not when the Board is involved.

Business Solutions for Declining Public School Enrollment

Now let's hypothesize that your sales have been slowly slipping for years. Your future sales projections show that your long-term sales are going to drop about 30% lower than your production capacity and then will stabilize there long term (analogous to the Board's enrollment and capacity projections).

What's worse is that you also have several local competitors that have been very successful in reducing your market share over the years, while you have done essentially nothing to attract new clients.

As a business owner, an immediate three step course of action should be obvious.

1. Your marketing strategy is failing - you need to attract more clients away from competitors.

I have seen and heard ads for private schools, religious schools, even separate schools - but I have never once seen an ad for the public school Board. Why would the Board just assume that parents of students would seek out a public school and enroll their kids there by default?

At our neighbourhood school (Queensdale) we lose a significant number of potential students to our local separate school (St. Peter and Paul) and to the Board's relatively local single stream French immersion school (Norwood Park).

Something as simple as a neighbourhood targeted Adwords or Facebook campaign in coordination with time sensitive print, TV and radio advertising would do wonders to drive enrollment that is currently being lost to competing school boards.

2. Your overhead is killing your profitability - you need to improve efficiency.

Things like a bloated management structure, elaborate unessential office facilities and spending capital on new construction rather than maintaining current assets creates a drastically inflated level of overhead, which in turn kills profitability.

In the case of the School Board, an obvious solution to high overhead would be to utilize the facilities that the Board already has (which are again already owned and paid for except for the small cost of regular maintenance) instead of proceeding with building brand new, very expensive schools and office buildings.

As a structural engineer, I have done hundreds of rehabilitation versus replacement net present value financial analysis for various multi-million dollar public infrastructure projects. Rehabilitation is almost always favorable over replacement because the net present value of regular repairs and maintenance spreads out costs like a mortgage, as opposed to the giant onetime cost of new construction.

Yet somehow these basic mathematical financial principles do not apply to the Board. (I am sure it wouldn't be that hard to find some significant efficiencies within the Board's management structure, either.)

3. Your product is outdated and no longer desirable.

If a product is not currently selling as well as it once did, clearly there is something wrong with the product. The Board has systematically underfunded maintenance on schools for so long that it is hard not to blame parents for looking for alternates.

Two recent examples are Sherwood Secondary School and Linden Park Elementary - both of which are in terrible shape because of a deliberate strategy by the Board to withhold regular maintenance. Both schools suffer declining enrollment as a result.

In another example, the three elementary schools recommended by the Board to close in the Central Mountain Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) - Queensdale, Eastmount Park and Linden Park are the only three schools on the central mountain that do not currently have full day kindergarten. Again, all three suffer declining enrollment because their competition offers a better product.

Further, in the case of Queensdale, the closest local competing school St. Peter and Paul also offers French immersion which is another very attractive incentive for parents to avoid the public school system.

You may have noticed a trend evolving here. Schools that the Board currently wants to close (and ones that barely escaped closure like Sherwood) are systematically denied maintenance and programming that would make them more attractive to parents, and then the poor condition is used to justify their closure.

It is very disturbing to imagine that the Board has actually taken deliberate steps to sabotage enrollment in order to justify school closures, but there are many indications that this is exactly what is happening.

Business Solutions for Excess School Capacity

Again, thinking about schools as business assets instead of liabilities: once you have focused your marketing campaign to attract new clients (students), you have made a serious effort to cut overhead (by repairing and utilizing the full capacity of facilities you already own and trimming a bloated management structure), and you have done everything possible to improve the desirability of your product (maintenance and programming), the next step is to look for additional revenue streams.

As a business owner, I live and breathe for additional revenue streams. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about different ways to make more money from the assets that I already have. Unfortunately, searching out additional revenue streams is not even remotely considered by the Board.

The truly sad fact is that the Board is actually mandated by the Ministry of Education to look for community partnerships, but there appears to be no serious effort to do so.

In the case of the Central Mountain ARC, the Board sent out a vague form letter to various businesses asking for proposals to use school space with a deadline to reply by September 13, 2013.

No business plan. No proposed rental rates. No listing of available space. No lease terms. No commercial real estate listing. No real desire to actually enter into a business partnership - just a thinly veiled excuse of going through the motions purely to have something on paper that the Board can show to the Ministry indicating they could not find any business partnership opportunities.

Think about how easy it would be to lease school space to local businesses if there was a serious attempt to do so. These are buildings that are only used nine months out of the year and from 9-3 daily.

Many schools - such as George L. Armstrong on Concession, which is a gorgeous historic structure and has an entire floor currently sitting empty - would be perfect for long-term leasing partnerships with professional businesses such as health care professionals (Armstrong is practically right across the street from Juravinski Hospital), insurance companies, accounting firms and so on.

In fact, we even have a very successful example of this exact scenario at Central Elementary School right here in Hamilton. Because of declining enrollment, Central was at one time slated for closure.

Central School (RTH file photo)
Central School (RTH file photo)

Instead of closing the school, in a rare example of vision, the Board leased the entire top floor to an insurance company. Then, when enrollment increased again - proving the Board's original enrollment projections to be bogus, incidentally - the insurance company left and the Board had the space to accommodate increasing demand.

Other schools would be more suited to after-school, weekend and summer rentals. Think about the growing popularity of fitness classes like Zoomba, yoga, kickboxing, martial arts - the list goes on. A school gym or empty classroom would be the perfect location for these types of businesses to operate.

Better yet, there is already a captive, local ideal client base - all of the parents of the kids attending the school!

Then, of course, there are summer camps and the myriad of children's activities that would kill for the option to access school space on a regular basis - theatre groups, sports groups, art and music groups and so on.

The bottom line is that with any sort of serious effort to add additional revenue streams, the Board could very easily augment fluctuating enrollment numbers and excess capacity by leasing and renting out access to its assets.

Of course, the Board would have to first recognize that its schools are assets.

Last Resort - Consolidation

Once a struggling business has done everything it can to increase its client base, cut overhead and add new revenue streams, its last resort is to consolidate operations.

The reason that consolidation is a last resort rather than a first resort is because it involves divesting of assets in return for a short-term infusion of cash. Once an asset is sold, it is gone forever and if the revenue its sale generates is not enough to significantly rejuvenate a business, the business is just postponing inevitable bankruptcy.

This is to say that permanently selling off assets is a very serious action, and should only be undertaken with a sound, long-term business plan.

I honestly question whether the Board actually understands that you can't sell real estate twice. How else can you explain the Board's recent closure spree and fire sale of school properties? From a business perspective, it's madness - unless of course you think you're selling off liabilities.

The 2014 Municipal Election Can't Come Soon Enough

As we watch the saga at Scott Park unfold, it is hard not to reach the conclusion that the Board trustees and Superintendents are hopelessly out of touch with reality.

How else can you explain a decision to sell a property in 2004 for $650,000, expropriate it for $1,000,000 in 2013 and then spend another $2,000,000 in 2014? And for what? That's $2,350,000, plus the cost of legal fees and construction - for a 165-space parking lot.

This is pure madness.

Fortunately, there is a municipal election just around the corner.

It is no secret that sitting Trustees are often reelected simply on the basis of name recognition. It is our duty as a City to make sure that does not happen again in 2014.

In the meantime, with eight high school closures and three mountain elementary school closures looming, the scheduled closure of Prince Philip school in Westdale and the East Hamilton City ARC, West Flamborough ARC and West Glanbrook ARC currently in progress, as every community across the City needs to explore every action that can limit the amount of destruction that the Board causes between now and October 2014.

The time to stop this farce is now.

Next Public Meeting

The next Central Mountain ARC public meeting is Tuesday, November 5, 6:00 PM at G.L. Armstrong School, 460 Concession, Hamilton, ON L9A 1C3.

If you live in the Eastmount Park community, you had hardly any presence at the first public meeting. You need to rally and attend this meeting!

If you live in the Linden Park community, you've already lost Hill Park, don't let the board take away your elementary school without a fight. Organize and attend this meeting!

If you live in the Armstrong community. Your school is about to get 300 new students by next fall, but not a cent on new renovations or maintenance (except two new kindergarten rooms). You need to mobilize and make sure your school gets fair treatment. Come to this meeting!

If you live in the greater community, closing elementary schools effects the viability of your entire community. Support your walkable community - come out to this meeting!

If your kids go to the separate school board, closing walkable schools effects entire neighbourhoods including you. Raise your voice in support your friends and neighbours - attend this meeting!


Update: - updated to add the notice about the upcoming ARC public meeting.

John-Paul Danko is a professional engineer and small business owner.

41 Comments

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 07:28:05

Asking because I plainly have no idea: What sort of insurance considerations are involved in the rental of other public facilities?

Also, what would the fixed costs be for maintaining vacant buildings in a state of rental-readiness?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 08:40:38 in reply to Comment 93696

You call an insurance company and you get insurance. It's certainly cheaper than building a new school.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:04:04 in reply to Comment 93702

And the City would save tens of millions on rec/community centres too.





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By doable (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 07:41:13 in reply to Comment 93696

Whatever it is, it must be doable because the board did it with Central School.

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 08:31:34 in reply to Comment 93697

It is doable i went to a school 50th aniversarie this past weekend and the school still looks awsome and its not a school of the HWDSB

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 08:59:23

Oh and one more thing we paly VollBall at the school and from what a heard they also have Zoomba everry week

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:15:16

City of Hamilton:

Participants carry minimum $2M Commercial General Liability Insurance per booking, endorsed to include the City of Hamilton as additionally insured. Proof of insurance is required prior to release of facility permit.

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/0E98D89C-0163-4644-912C-234B71FB5CA0/0/2013_FacilityBookingApplicationForm.pdf


HWDSB is basically the same, only the permit holder "shall indemnify and save harmless Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, its officials, trustees, employees and agents from and against any and all liability whatsoever resulting from injury or damage to person, persons or property by reason of or as a result of the use and occupation of the premises directly or indirectly." And if you can't arrange insurance, they'll do it on your behalf and tack the cost onto your permit.

http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/schools/school-rental/#RulesandRegulations

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:17:37

It is no secret that sitting Trustees are often reelected simply on the basis of name recognition. It is our duty as a City to make sure that does not happen again in 2014.

Woo hoo! Sounds like you have a good handle on some of these larger issues plaguing the board. Can I read this as an admission you'll be running [hopeful]?

Comment edited by Borrelli on 2013-10-25 09:18:32

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By 1234 (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:27:08

Add that Delta High School is one of the of most significant school buildings in the province from an architectural and cultural landscape perspective. Students fought and sometimes died in WWII, politicians and elite sport athletes went to Delta. The gothic revival building is constructed with materials such as old growth timber that is not available any longer and Tyndall limestone, one of the tree great building stones used in Canada and is in some of our Parliament Buildings. The double brick walls are laid in flemish bond pattern, very material and labour intensive. You will find that most of our buildings in the east end were built in similar fashion, Memorial School and Jimmy Thompson Pool are 2 examples. Why? People knew the importance of constructing the best buildings they could, indicating permanence, stability and integrity. What an inspirational place for a young person to learn. As you say we have a very short-sighted board and our only hope for sanity is their removal. Let's all hope this happen and that a plan as you have outlined be adopted. Thank you

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:42:46

The following are examples of factors that the ARC may assess under each of the four considerations. ARCs are encouraged to introduce other factors that could be used to reflect local circumstances and priorities which may help to further explore the value of the school(s).

Value to the Student

•ƒ quality of the learning environment at the school;
•ƒ student outcomes at the school;
•ƒ range of course or program offerings;
•ƒ range of extracurricular activities and extent of student participation;
• adequacy of the school’s physical space to support student learning;
• adequacy of the school’s grounds for healthy physical activity and extracurricular activities;
ĥ accessibility of the school for students with disabilities;
• safety of the school;
•ƒ proximity of the school to students/length of bus ride to school.


Value to the School Board

•ƒ student outcomes at the school;
•ƒ range of program or course offerings;
•ƒ availability of specialized teaching spaces;
ĥ condition and location of school;
•ƒ value of the school if it is the only school within the community;
•ƒ fiscal and operational factors (e.g., enrolment vs. available space, cost to operate the school, cost of transportation, availability of surplus space in adjacent schools, cost to upgrade the facility so that it can meet student learning objectives).

Value to the Community

•ƒ facility for community use;
ĥ range of program offerings at the school that serve both students and community members (e.g., adult ESL);
•ƒ school grounds as green space and/or available for recreational use;
ĥ school as a partner in other government initiatives in the community;
•ƒ value of the school if it is the only school within the community.

Value to the Local Economy

ĥ school as a local employer;
•ƒ availability of cooperative education;
ĥ availability of training opportunities or partnerships with business;
•ƒ attracts or retains families in the community;
• value of the school if it is the only school within the community.


http://www.npsc.ca/media/1348/ministrypupilaccomodationreviewguidelines.pdf

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:56:30 in reply to Comment 93715

Problem is, those 'values' can all be spun to fit the agenda du jour and/or thrown out the window entirely by individual trustees when it ultimately comes down to the vote.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:21:46 in reply to Comment 93722

The real problem is that the entire ARC process is a ruse that gives the public the impression of participation but in reality simply enables the board to forward their private agenda by allowing them to tell the ministry they consulted with the public.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:29:13 in reply to Comment 93724

Yeah, it's like they're grading schools using scratch-n-sniff stickers and coloured stars.

Squishy subjectivity aside, it also seems to allow the MOE to spin responsibility for the closures: The province didn't mandate the closures; they just empowered local authorities to allocate a stable and transparent funding formula as they thought best.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:31:04 in reply to Comment 93726

Can we forget that the Board was caught tweaking its criteria weighting so it could rationalize its decision to leave the downtown and retreat to its suburban compound near Lime Ridge Mall?

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-10-25 10:32:41

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By Mia (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:16:37

In response to the considerations in the ARC process, past experiences in Hamilton have demonstrated the value of the process. When has the Board ever voted in favour of an ARC proposal? Dundee ... no, Westdale ... nope, Sherwood/Hillpark/BArton ... No ( it was an individual's plan they voted for). Let's stop the madness. Calling all potential trustees .... Your community needs you!

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By Mia (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:47:07 in reply to Comment 93723

Sorry ... I meant Dundas not Dundee

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:28:13

Self-fulfilling prophecy 101: decide that enrollment at a neighbourhood school is going to decline in the future, stop maintaining the school, let it fall into a state of disrepair, decide to close the school. As a result, families with young children are discouraged from moving into the neighbourhood and the population of school-age children actually does decline.

All across North America, downtowns and inner-ring suburbs are bursting back to life as people rediscover the joys, advantages, economies and conveniences of living in dense, mixed, walkable neighbourhoods.

In Hamilton, our blinkered, myopic farce of a public school board is doing everything in its power to ensure the revitalization of old intact neighbourhoods doesn't reach us as well.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-10-25 10:28:39

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 16:57:38 in reply to Comment 93725

To be fair, I'd like to think we're not the only city with a public school board taking these kinds of actions...

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:27:13

Please read the paper I linked to in this document. It's in bold red. It's a paper put together by the University of Regina. It's simply time to take control of these decisions away from the board. Let them deal with education. Let the communities decide/design the future of these buildings themselves.

Chicago is on the verge, with 50 schools on the chopping block, of the largest school closures in American history. This is worldwide.

Time for a moratorium on new school construction and closure of any schools.

We need to reach out to all schools going through this process, get them to read this, and work together to engage the broader communities. Think beyond parents with children. Think about all your neighbours. Think about the immigrants who speak very little English and maybe don't know how to be engaged because of these limitations, and maybe they have teen children who could help voice their parents and other families like them, needs in our communities.

Canada seems to be leading the charge on Schools as Community Hubs. Obviously our board isn't interested so let's be interested ourselves.

I'd also like for all of you to fill out and pass along this one question survey. It may seem silly and pointless, but I would love to drive a point with the results.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-10-25 11:28:16

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 13:59:55 in reply to Comment 93732

There is an fb group. Hasn't been very active lately, but you might find some info there.

Comment edited by highwater on 2013-10-25 14:00:54

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 14:23:44 in reply to Comment 93740

Thank you for this, Highwater. A shame to think that the Trustees may not have read that paper. It makes sense what's outlined in that doc and it's not like it's something new.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 15:04:51 in reply to Comment 93741

It wouldn't have made a difference. Many people made similar arguments throughout the arc and it had no effect. May have even worked against us as we were portrayed as a bunch of fancy-pants elitists putting our selfish desires for healthy, sustainable communities ahead of what's best for kids, because apparently those are two opposing interests. :P

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 16:21:17 in reply to Comment 93744

Well we seem to have some youth running for council so I hope the same is true for Trustees. This old school or no school thinking is going to undo the great things we have been doing in this city.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2013 at 09:59:46 in reply to Comment 93746

I'm hopeful about change.

There will still be fights down the road at some point, though in aIl honesty I also find it hard to imagine that a reaping as wrenching as that of the current Board's ARCs -- 8 of 18 HWDSB high schools and an as-yet-undetermined number of our 95 elementary schools binned -- will come along again anytime soon.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 13:53:32 in reply to Comment 93732

I am very familiar with that University of Regina report. Sent a link to it to all the trustees during the Dalewood ARC as a matter of fact. In fairness, I doubt they even opened my email let alone the link.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:50:54 in reply to Comment 93732

Thanks for this!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:53:53 in reply to Comment 93734

Please share and add and encourage others to, add to it. I haven't seen much about secondary schools as community hubs but I think you could go more with a business model with those schools as those facilities are doing just that, preparing kids in their final stages of education for business/workforce.

Thank you John-Paul, for another great piece. The liabilities and assets and relationship of schools as businesses is great yet also angering in that those in charge don't seem to look at this in the same manner.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-10-25 11:55:55

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By Ed (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 17:50:57

Governance is becoming a real challenge at most school boards in Ontario, and Hamilton is no exception. Is it crazy of me to get a bit concerned about what a trustee's true motivation is when I see them at political rallies or on our local cable channel discussing federal and provincial politics? My thought (and I'm sure it's not possible, but just a thought): as a requirement of becoming a trustee, all trustees once elected should have to sign a pledge indicating they will not pursue another political office (federal, provincial, municipal) until a set time frame (say 5-10 years) after they have stopped being a trustee. Takes all future political ambition and maneuvering out of education. This is one level of governance where I really believe there is no place for partisan politics or for that matter any elected officials to have stated party memberships. Is this way off base? Would love to hear some feedback.

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted October 27, 2013 at 15:40:03 in reply to Comment 93749

Is this, or has it been, an issue with this current Trustee contingent? Simmons maybe? Definitely not Bishop...she'd love to hold that seat for eternity. White? I ask because I haven't heard their names bandied about in a larger political context. I don't think it's a bad idea to suggest that those that sit as a Trustee need to keep their eyes off of anything else political for a certain time period. I'm not sure how that would look, legally, in a way that would stand up to a challenge.

In terms of what I would like to see from a Trustee, it simply boils down to this: a) a progressive vision for education in Hamilton , b) has a sense of what is driving urban trends at this point and down the road, and c) a desire to work closely with the city. Not too difficult, I don't think.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 21:28:10 in reply to Comment 93749

I agree with youu Ed. No partisan political stances for Trustees or members of council. Once you make a political colour known or take a position as an mp or what have you, you should no longer be eligible for Trustee or council positions. There should be no loyalty for a party in those roles. Your party, views, are that of the people you represent and those people, are made of of varying political colors. Council and Trustees shouldn't even be able to vote beyond municipal politics perhaps. Maybe federal and provincial party members shouldn't be able to vote municiply?

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By PearlStreet (registered) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 11:49:25

We are speaking to a teaching group / union of unrealistic idealists and socialists. Its the 'old book smart, street stupid'. It made my father leave the profession. Reality check, you can't keep misspending forever.

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted October 27, 2013 at 15:43:30 in reply to Comment 93766

I'm not sure about that. I don't think very many Trustees have "teaching" experience. The average teacher spends very little time thinking about Board decisions as they have very little impact on the average teacher.

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By jmcg (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:19:01

HWDSB trustees decisions are made by Executive Reports to standing committee meetings which use Bullying tactics .E.G. Scott Park debacle for H.S. To fit H.S.on 3.4 A.like putting size 10 into side 5 shoebox.HWDSB model tear down a building put up a parking lot for$$ 5m. good planning
Boards decision build $32.6 m Education Center (TAJ MAHAL)on 10 acres tear down school for 485 parking spaces.Before north Center H.S for 1280 students.
What is HWDSB proprieties STUDENTS or bureaucrats /maintenance trucks?
Voice your opinion at HWDSB Boards meeting Monday Oct. 28 2013 at 6.00pm city hall chamber.
Senior Taxpayers Coalition (Voice of our children and Grandchildren's for Further )
J. McGreal

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By Laser (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 17:03:33

Let's not forget that Queensdale had major renovations 8 years go to the tune of in excess of 5,000,000.
These renovations included new high efficiency boilers, all rooms air conditioned, new electrical panels inside and out, new hall ceilings, new hall lighting, new doors and windows, new playground entrance steps, access ramps, new fountains and related plumbing, completely refurbished washrooms. How can you do all this and then close the building?

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted October 27, 2013 at 16:11:37 in reply to Comment 93782

8 years is two terms. That is an eternity for someone who doesn't actually care about the outcome of their public decisions.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2013 at 12:11:15

Have all ARC reviews happened under the current regime of Trustees? As in the past 3 years? Should one term be able to inflict this much change/damage? Would we have a leg to stand on if we reached out to upper levels of government, asking them to force a moratorium on new school builds and ARC reviews in Hamilton until the 2014 election? This should be too many decisions for one term of government to decide. If all the same bodies are elected and the reviews and decisions continue along a similar path post election, then perhaps we can conclude at that point that although some people are not happy with these reviews, we as a community were ultimately content with leaving education decisions to our school Trustees.

How many schools will they have been closed/scheduled to close by 2014 if they continue with the rest of the ARC reviews? How many brand new schools will they have approval to build by then? Dundas, North and South high schools? Not to mention the new board office which was not at all required. How many heritage buildings owned by our board, have they demolished/will have approval to by 2014?

Have we as a city followed Trustees actions this much in this municipal bodies existence? Would we really come across as out of order to if nothing else, at least postpone reviews, closures, and new build proposals until an election to see how a possible (hopeful) new panel with perhaps a different outlook, handles the remaining reviews and overall vision for the future of education in this city?

Surely many in the upper management of our province and even this country, would agree that this is too much change to occur in one term?

Many regions in Canada, the US, and Europe including Toronto, are adopting Schools as Community Hub models (or however they refer to them in their local areas but the general models are of a similar nature). Why not Hamilton?

Hundreds of thousands are upset across this province alone. Millions likely, worldwide.

Will the entire future of Education in Hamilton be decided by the time the next election comes around? Now they want to re-work the Trustee boundaries as per an email that has circulated around parent council members of my girls school.

Will there be anything left to salvage for those of us thinking about being a part of building an education system designed truly on the communities vision for the future of the school system in the Hamilton-Wentworth district?

We hear so often, "We can create change with a newly elected body." If all the T's are crossed and I's dotted on all ARC Reviews, school closures, and new Trustee boundaries by the time a new panel of Trustees is elected, there will be nothing left for them to vote on. They'll be handed a broken employee manual, and a beaten, battered, and disgruntled constituent base with a long and trying road ahead of them to try to undue, if they have any such power, the damage of one single term of office.

We need to ask, and it would be great to have our councillors support in putting such a plea together to provincial and federal leaders.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-10-28 12:46:45

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 17:02:25

I have noticed above there is discussion about partnering with the city to create community hubs/rec centres.

I know the city recently turned down such a partnership offer for a number of reasons, but I was wondering if any people can contribute to a discussion of how past partnerships have worked out?

I seem to recall a mountain high school where the city helped pay for something...a new gym or theatre perhaps...and the school board has now decided to close the school, leaving the city with a lost investment?

I also seem to recall some kind of mixed use school/rec centre which, when I read about it a year or so after it opened, was barely being used as a rec centre because construction had not properly segregated the school portion from the rec centre portion, meaning rooms that were intended to be available to community groups to rent were not available outside of school hours....is that correct?

From those two examples, I can imagine why the city was wary of entering into another partnership. Are there other examples, or better yet, any positive examples of a partnership between the school board and the city?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2013 at 13:15:57 in reply to Comment 93929

How about social services being dumped on us to cover costs. Those services/not for profits could save a ton in operational costs if they moved into schools.

Hey Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton-Burlington, how about a permanent home inside the old Scott Park HS? Connected to a beautiful, historic pool and soon a community/seniors centre. Next to a huge park. Big gym, a theatre for showing movies perhaps. We'll set aside room for a club house available after hours for Bigs and LIttles to utilize too.

Let's move Parkview students into that facility used for specialized learning, safe quiet environment, that also serves other children's needs like Big Brothers or the like.

If you offered space to Mountain (although it would be nice for them to continue to have their own facility as well), and you open up the Parkview curriculum to welcome students in other schools not reaching their full potential for various reasons. You could create quite a community hub in that old building. Move the Football Hall of Fame, create a home for the Hamilton Sports Hall of fame, put a coffee shop/eatery right off King (punch in a big window on either side of entranceway), and turn it into a bit of a street facing business that supports that communities needs.

I would love for US to purchase Scott Park. For us to create this new school perhaps under a separate/public board umbrella because separate school should be about different learning; not religion, that recognizes kids that learn differently (which is all of us for that matter), and teaches kids about everyone in their community and builds strong community members.

I'd like to know why the separate board isn't called just that. The Hamilton-Wentworth District Separate Board. Why is it the Catholic board? Is Catholicism really the minority faith? I would think agnosticism or atheism would be more inline with reality as this quote states:

A 2006 study suggests that atheists constitute a religious minority in the United States, with researchers concluding: "Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."10

I'd rather not get into religion but the bottom line is, the separate board should be named just that, with different types of schools under that umbrella. I'd rather us not publicly fund schools based on religion but if we think this is okay to continue, that Mosque seeking funding for a new centre which would include a school, should be the beneficiary of some public dollars too to support their school system.

I wonder if we have grounds to start our own publicly funded school, with Parkview @ Scott Park, as the template for not only the type of education, but a testing grounds for Schools as Community Hubs.

Does CAS need one building? Can they work out of multiple ones? Would it be better if they were spread out amongst the communities who utilize these services? What about Blood Services? Walk in clinics? What else receives funding that could benefit by utilizing empty school space therefore coming up with a solution for the funding burden our city faces for social services, giving students from Mountain and Parkview a property learning environment, and running a school that has income sources meaning the board can focus on education and worry less about building operational costs.

Then we keep SJAM because our desire is to bring more families downtown. We designate and re-purpose 100 year old King George. Then we designate and keep Delta Collegiate as a high school. It's our Central. It's our Westdale.

This is my perfect scenario for our North Arc.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-10-30 13:26:12

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2013 at 12:51:49 in reply to Comment 93929

I also seem to recall some kind of mixed use school/rec centre which, when I read about it a year or so after it opened, was barely being used as a rec centre because construction had not properly segregated the school portion from the rec centre portion

That would be Dr Davey School/Beasley Community Centre.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 17:31:35 in reply to Comment 93929

Like Hill Park which is physically connected to a City rec-center and pool. What happens to the rec-center when the highschool is sold off? The City gets screwed by the Board is what happens.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2013 at 12:42:38 in reply to Comment 93932

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